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Taking Your Baby Home
by Robert M. Selig, M.D., FAAP & Joann C. Cozza, D.O., FAAP

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5: Breast Feeding; How Do I Get Started?

Breast-feeding can begin in the delivery room. Nursing your baby stimulates your breasts to produce milk. Initially, your baby will receive only colostrum when nursing. By the 3rd to 5th day, most babies will be receiving more breast milk. Many babies are very sleepy in the first few days, and may give the impression of not being interested in nursing.

If you are not feeling too tired, we recommend nursing your baby every 2 3 hours. If you are recovering from a difficult delivery or a cesearan section, delaying the nursing for 24 48 hours will not affect your ability to nurse. It is better to feel well and be relaxed when you start nursing.

In the beginning, it is important to limit your baby to 3 5 minutes of continuous nursing on each breast. Many babies will nurse for 30 seconds and play for another few minutes and then nurse again. The play time does not count as nursing time. Short nursings will lessen the chances of developing sore nipples. The soreness may not occur until the next day.

If your baby wants to nurse longer after the second breast, return to the first breast, but change the position you hold your baby in relation to your nipple. Changing positions will change the pressure points on your nipples and lessen the chance of irritation. Different positions may also stimulate and empty different areas of your breast better, resulting in more even stimulation of your milk glands and less discomfort. The most vigorous nursing will be done on the first breast. Once your baby is nursing on each breast, remember to start the next nursing on the breast that your baby last finished. This will result in equal stimulation of both breasts.

Each day as your baby wants to nurse longer and your nipples are not sore, you can increase the time on each breast. By the 4th day, you may be up to nursing 10-15 minutes on each breast.

There is no advantage to letting your baby nurse 10 minutes at one time right from the beginning. You will accomplish the same end result of producing enough milk for your baby by frequent and short nursings, and changing positions whenever possible.

If you are feeling well, ask the nurses to bring your baby out to your room at night for nursing.


6: How Do I Know If My Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk?

After your milk has come in and is flowing well (let down reflex), most babies will nurse between 6 8 times in 24 hours. In the beginning, your breasts may feel full before nursing. Your breasts will feel softer after 5 10 minutes of nursing on each breast. With time, you will learn to gauge how long your baby needs to nurse on each breast to fully empty them. Average nursing time is 10 15 minutes on each breast.

Remember, if your baby is emptying your breasts at each nursing, he/she will have at least one wet diaper (urine) with each nursing (6 8 wet diapers/24 hours).


7: Should I Be Engorged After Nursing?

Once your baby is nursing well and emptying your breasts, you should feel more comfortable (your breasts will feel softer). In the first week until your let down reflex (flow of milk) is well established, your milk may not flow as easily. As a result, your breasts may be very full and uncomfortable. This is temporary and will lessen with more frequent nursing.

Use warm compresses before nursing and milk your breast with your hands before and while nursing your baby. Changing positions that your baby is nursing may empty some milk ducts better. Ask us for suggestions for different positions.


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