Breastfeeding basics for new moms

Ideally, new mothers can breastfeed within the first hour of delivery. Some doctors call this the “golden hour.” The immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth helps babies regulate their breathing and body temperature, improves the chances of successfully breastfeeding and eases the delivery of the placenta. Expecting mothers who choose to deliver at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center appreciate our family-centered, sensitive approach to maternity care.

Feeding cues
Babies need to eat whenever they become hungry. For newborns, on-demand feeding occurs about every two to three hours, or eight to 12 times within a 24-hour period. Nursing mothers of newborns often place a bassinet by their own bed to make nighttime feedings easier—babies should never be put to sleep with their parents in the family bed.

Infants tell their parents that it’s time to eat with the following feeding cues:

  • Covering the mouth with a hand
  • Making sucking sounds or mouth movements
  • Turning toward something that strokes the baby’s cheek or mouth (rooting)

Babies should be fed before they start to cry.

Breastfeeding duration
Infants should nurse until they stop on their own. After burping the baby, the mother can offer the other breast. When a baby starts with the left breast at one feeding, he or she should start with the right breast at the next feeding, and vice versa.

Doctors recommend breastfeeding exclusively for six months before gradually introducing solid foods. Mothers can nurse for as long as they and their babies wish. If a baby weans off breastfeeding before 12 months, he or she should receive formula instead of regular milk until the first birthday.

Proper latching
Getting a proper latch can take practice. If nursing is painful, there’s a good chance the latch isn’t quite right. Gently sliding a finger into the corner of the baby’s mouth breaks the seal and lets moms try for a better latch.

Here are the steps for getting a good latch :

  • Bring the baby to the breast, instead of leaning forward toward the baby
  • Hold the breast from both sides, but keep the fingers away from the nipple
  • Aim the nipple at the baby’s nose or upper lip
  • Get as much of the areola as possible in the baby’s mouth
  • Check that the baby has “fish lips” and the baby’s chin is at the lower part of the breast

Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center is a widely recognized leader in family-centered maternity care. Everything we do serves the best interests of our patients—from our Level III NICU to our compassionate breastfeeding support services. Call (702) 233-5300 to request a physician referral at our hospital in Las Vegas.

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