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Breastfeeding Tips for a First Time Mom

Updated on November 16, 2016
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Whitney is a mom trying to evoke a healthy, happy life for herself and her family.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and most physicians recommend breastfeeding as the first choice in nutrients for newborns and infants. Human milk is perfectly designed with the ideal blend of nutrients and antibodies in an easily digestible form. The natural antibodies that you pass to your baby through breast milk helps build a strong immune system, which may lead to fewer illnesses and a reduced risk of asthma and allergies.

Breastfeeding is also better for you.

  • You don't have to worry about mixing formula and water.
  • It's right there at all times and always at the right temperature.
  • You don't have to worry about washing bottles or rubber nipples.
  • It's economical for your budget.
  • Some nursing moms lose weight faster.
  • Women who breastfeed are less likely to get high blood pressure, high fat or cholesterol blood levels, diabetes, heart disease, ovarian cancer and breast cancer.

Milk Production

Your body starts producing colostrum around 16-22 weeks of pregnancy, so when your baby is born he is sucking the colostrum from your breasts for about three to four days. The colostrum is a thick, clear substance packed with nutrients and antibodies that your newborn needs. Colostrum flows slowly to make it easier for your newborn to practice sucking, swallowing and breathing at the same time.

Your body will start producing milk around 30 to 40 hours after the placenta has been removed. You'll notice your breast swelling, tingling and overall fullness.

If your expressing milk or leaking, you may notice the color start to change. Colostrum in clear, but when you milk starts to come in, it will have a golden yellow color. Once the colostrum is gone, the milk will become thinner with a creamy white color.

When feeding your baby, you want to make sure that you nurse long enough so that your baby gets the foremilk and the hindmilk in order to get the all nutritional benefits from your breastmilk.
When feeding your baby, you want to make sure that you nurse long enough so that your baby gets the foremilk and the hindmilk in order to get the all nutritional benefits from your breastmilk.

Tips for Proper Latching

Proper latching is one of the most important aspects in determining the quality of your and baby's breastfeeding experience. The correct latch helps your baby get the proper nutrition and makes nursing a more comfortable experience for you. Your newborn may latch on as soon as you hold him to your breast, but if he doesn't, don't be disappointed.

Be persistent and try these tips.

Find a feeding position that is comfortable for you and your baby.

Shape your breast for easy latch on. Place your left hand below your breast with your thumb at the 3 o'clock position and your index finger at the 9 o'clock position. Compress your breast into a "U" hold.

When latching and positioning your baby at the breast, start by holding him with his nose close to your nipple. Stroke his upper lip with your nipple and wait for his mouth toe open wide. Then guide the baby's mouth toward your nipple, pointing the nipple toward the roof of his mouth. Your baby's chin should be against your breast when latched. A good latch should feel comfortable with no pain. There may be slight discomfort in the beginning, as your baby learns to latch, but it shouldn't be painful. If it becomes painful, break the suction with your finger and re-latching him.

When your baby is showing signs of hunger but will not latch on, you can hand express a drop of milk onto the tip of your nipple, rub your nipple over your baby's lips so he can taste the milk. This will sometimes entice him to latch on.

If your baby unlatches or isn't sucking, you can gently rub his chin or cheek to stimulate him to nurse. Don't get frustrated. This is a learning curb for you and Baby, and the more frustrated you get, the more frustrated your baby will get.

Signs Baby May Not Be Latching Properly


  • You have sore nipples


  • Makes clicking or smacking sounds when he sucks
  • Comes off the breast after a few sucks
  • Falls asleep after just a couple of minutes of nursing
  • Dimples his cheeks with each suck
  • Has too few wet diapers
  • Remains fussy and discontent after eating

How Often To Feed Baby

To breastfeed successfully, it's important to feed the baby whenever feeding cues are shown. A new baby needs to feed at least 8-12 times within 24 hours with feedings lasting about 30-40 minutes (15-20 minutes per breast).

This means, your baby should feed every 1.5-3 hours from the start of one feeding to the start of the next.

Some babies like to bunch several feedings together and take a longer nap, so it's best to be flexible with feeding times in the early weeks until you and your baby figure out a feeding schedule.

Frequent feedings are important to ensure a healthy milk supply and to support baby's weight gain. If you notice that your baby isn't feeding as often as he should, you may want to consider pumping in-between feedings so to keep your milk production up.

Baby rooting
Baby rooting

How to Tell When Your Baby is Hungry

Don't watch the clock. Watch your baby and follow your baby's lead and watch and listen for feeding cues, even when he's asleep.

  • Sucking movements of mouth and tongue
  • Smacking
  • Restlessness or increased body movements, especially hand to mouth movements
  • Sucking on his fingers or hands
  • Opening the mouth wide and turning head (rooting) on his own or when you touch his chin or lips
  • Small, whimpering sounds
  • Crying is a late hunger sign, so try to breastfeed before the baby starts to cry.

If your baby has been breastfed and continues to cry in the first few days, check your breasts by hand expressing or pumping to make sure that you are making milk.

How Much Should A Newborn Eat

You want to make sure that your newborn is getting enough to eat without getting too much, causing your baby to spit up. But, there's just not a secret answer as to how much your newborn needs to eat.

On average, you add 2 ounces per age of the baby, so if you're baby is 2 weeks old, then he should eat about 2 ounces. That can be hard to gauge if you're breastfeeding, so knowing when your baby has had enough is dependent on her.

A full baby may begin to act disinterested in feeding. She may turn her head away or close her mouth tightly when you try to put your breast near her. She may start to fall asleep or act tired. She may spit up some of the milk.

On the other hand, if you pull your baby away from your breast and he starts smacking his lips or begins to cry, he probably wants more.

A full term newborn's stomach is the size of a small marble and can only hold about 5-7 ml (less than a quarter of an ounce) at a time. At day three, the stomach has grown to the size of a shooter marble and can hold about 22-27 ml (about 0.75-1 ounce). And by day 10, a baby's stomach is the size of a ping pong ball and can hold about 60-80 ml (about 2-2.75 ounces).

Signs Baby is Getting Enough Milk

  • Stops passing meconium (thick black or dark-green poop) after about four days and begins to pass yellow, seedy, runny poop three or more times a day
  • Has about six to eight wet diapers a day and two poops a day
  • Breastfeeds every two to three hours
  • Breastfeeds for 10 minutes or more
  • Makes a rhythmic sucking sound during feeding
  • Nurses at both breasts
  • Appears satisfied after feeding
  • Consistently gains weight


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