5 Things To Do in Your Baby’s First 24 Hours To Help Ensure Breastfeeding Success

Photography: Hannah Webb Photography

By Flannery Fontinell

The first day of life for your baby – and for you as a new mum – is exciting, thrilling, wonderful and terrifically overwhelming. Unfortunately, for many women it is a time of anxiety-provoking questions and feelings of doubt. This list is an attempt to make you feel rock-solid about your decision and ability to breastfeed your baby; I want to help you get off to a strong start. I worked on a postpartum (mother/baby) hospital unit for almost seven years: I know the first-day questions that new mums often have.

Breastfeeding is the normal way to feed an infant. We all want to see ourselves as Mother Earth…the baby comes out, you and your partner exchange loving glances, the baby latches without any effort, you make tons of milk and nobody around you has any question that everything is going exactly as it should.

Perhaps, for some people, this is exactly how things go. But for so many families I had the opportunity to care for, this lovely vision remains a bit elusive. For those of you for whom everything may not easily fall into place, here are five important things a new mom can do in the first 24 hours after delivery to help ensure breastfeeding success.

Get Skin-to-Skin

Your baby is most alert in the first 24 hours after delivery. Use this invaluable time to observe your baby’s cues for feeding: lip smacking, putting hands to mouth, tongue thrusting and wobbling head back and forth. These are signs of rooting that happen during the quiet alert state. It is paramount during this alert period to give your baby the opportunity to learn and practice a strong latch. Babies get progressively sleepier after a few hours, so this crucial moment can be missed if others are passing your baby around or the baby is in the bassinet. There will be plenty of time later for family and friends to hold the baby! 

Your baby is most alert in the first 24 hours after delivery. Use this invaluable time to observe your baby’s cues for feeding: lip smacking, putting hands to mouth, tongue thrusting and wobbling head back and forth.

Having your baby directly against your body also makes the transition to life outside the womb far easier for both mother and baby. Nature’s cool balancing act: your baby’s temperature is maintained by you: when your baby is cold, your body automatically warms up; when your baby is hot, your body cools down. Closeness = success.

Avoid Pacifiers and Formula

Introducing supplemental soothing techniques or probably unnecessary food sources in early infant life discourages your baby from making use of his/her mum as the normal source of comfort and food. Since sucking soothes infants and because stimulation of the breast encourages milk production, supplementalanything can interfere with this perfect system.

Latch Early and Often

Many breastfeeding specialists believe that early and frequent stimulation of breasts helps to develop prolactin receptors in the breasts; this can ultimately lead to an increased supply of milk and a longer duration of breastfeeding.

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