12 Tips for successful breastfeeding

12 Tips for successful breastfeeding

By Dr. Melanie Bazarte and Lucille Beseler, RDN

1. Prepare for breastfeeding by getting information and training during pregnancy:

  • Read materials/watch video or take a class on breastfeeding
  • Check with your healthcare provider and/or hospital to see if and how they teach and support breastfeeding
  • Choose a baby-friendly hospital, and direct the staff not to give your baby formula or water. 

2. After giving birth, breastfeed early and often. At birth, breasts release colostrum which is rich in nutrients and antibodies. It's important to breastfeed within an hour of giving birth to promote milk production and postpartum hormones, and help the breasts make mature milk. 

3. Have your newborn stay with you in your hospital room. 

4. Learn your newborn's hunger signals. Avoid using a pacifier or bottle until nursing is going well.

5. Trust your baby to eat the right amount and that you're producing just the right amount of milk. Breast size, large or small, makes no difference in breastfeeding success. 

6. Position yourself and your baby comfortably for pain-free and efficient nursing. 

7. Be prepared to nurse on demand or whenever your baby wants to eat. Often, as many as 8 to 12 times per day, is normal. Feed according to your baby's appetite and support their growth spurts. 

8. Offer both breasts at each feeding. Alternate the breast you start with so that both breasts get emptied of the "hind milk" (the high-fat milk expressed last). This will also help reduce tenderness. Mark the last breast used with a safety pin on your bra to remind you where to start next time. Allow nipples to air dry after feeding when possible. 

9. Burp your baby when you change breasts and at the end of a feeding.  

10. Try to get over any embarrassment about breastfeeding in front of others, and about leaks that naturally occur when you hear a baby cry. Wear nursing pads and a good support bra day and night. 

11. Find, ask for, and accept help and support from family, friends, and experts. You can also join a breastfeeding support group or get lactation counseling. 

12. Prepare early for going-back-to-work nursing routine and pumping. Nursing before work, soon after work, and in the evening keeps up adequate milk supply. Help your baby adjust to drinking breastmilk from a bottle.

Adapted from Nurturing with Nutrition by Dr. Melanie Bezarte and Lucille Beseler, RDN