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Three Best Tips For Getting Breastfeeding Off To A Great Start

Updated on May 5, 2010

I work daily with pregnant and breastfeeding mothers as part of my job, and one of my biggest priorities is breastfeeding promotion. I have seen far too many babies get sick from formula. Sometimes, moms have to try one formula after another to find one that the baby can tolerate.

One of the most heartbreaking scenarios is when the mother plans to breastfeed, but something goes wrong and she ends up formula feeding, only to have a very sick baby as a result. This does not have to happen.

The following suggestions come from my work experience with postpartum mothers.

1. Make sure the hospital staff knows you are planning to breastfeed.

If you plan on birthing in a hospital, make sure everyone who cares for you and your baby knows that you are breastfeeding! When there is a shift change, remember to let your new nurse know. Also enlist the help of the baby's father or other helper to reiterate what you are telling the staff.

You can also put a sign on the baby's crib that says "Breastfeeding baby. Do not give formula."

It is heartbreaking to hear, "Breastfeeding was going so well, and then he went to the nursery, and after that he didn't want to latch on anymore." Do you know what happened in the nursery? You guessed it. The nursery staff gave the baby a bottle.

More than likely, the person responsible thought he/she was doing mom a favor. But giving formula doesn't do anyone any favors.

Firstly, it can cause supply problems in mom. If the baby is drinking formula, mom's body will sense that the baby isn't taking mom's milk, and will produce less.

Secondly, it introduces common allergens into the baby's body, since formula is either based on cow's milk or soybean.

And thirdly, it can cause latch problems in the baby. The baby may refuse the breast, because it takes longer for the milk to come out and the baby gets frustrated.

2. Breastfeed early and often!

Breastfeed within the first one to two hours after birth. Newborns have very small stomachs, so they eat very frequently at first. Expect around twelve feedings in twenty-four hours, although every baby is different. Breastfeeding early and often will help your milk to come in.

For the first couple days, you will have colostrum, which is packed with antibodies and very high in nutrients. Then, around day three or four, your full milk will come in. Baby will not need to feed quite as frequently.

The baby will have growth spurts around two and six weeks of age, so expect feedings to increase in frequency for a short while during these times.

3. No bottles or formula!

You may be planning to return to work or school, and wondering when to introduce bottles. It is best to wait until the baby is at least three weeks old. At this point, breastfeeding is well established, and baby knows what to do. So, you can start pumping and saving your milk, and if you want to test out the bottle, it probably will not disrupt breastfeeding.

Of course, giving bottles of your milk, and not formula, is best. Continue latching the baby when you are able, so that baby gets used to having both bottle and breast.

Any questions?

I hope you found this hub helpful. If you have any questions about breastfeeding, please feel free to contact me!

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    • Mousey profile image

      Mousey 7 years ago

      Hi Heather,

      I completely agree with tip#1. Most of the hospitals are far too eager to recommend formula and pumped breast milk via bottle very early on. I understand that they are more concerned about the infant getting malnourished. However, I tend to think the hospitals should also take a pro-active stand for breastfeeding and help the new mother continue direct breastfeeding (not bottle feeding the pumped milk)Even my own hospital thought ( their heart was in the heart place) as long as the infant is getting BM, then what's the harm? Unfortunately, once the infant tastes the nipple early on, it is so difficult to get her/him back to the breasts.. Wow, I had a hard time. I did it finally though with the help of many lactation consultants and support groups.

      Yeah, wonderful and a well written hub and I hope all the new moms out there strictly follow tip#1 and ensure they have that "breastfed baby" no bottles/formula tag on the infant's bassinet.