Breastfeeding provides a bonding experience for you and your baby, helps your uterus return to its normal size more quickly, and is more convenient and economical than using formula. Your milk contains the perfect balance of nutrients in a form most easily digested by your growing baby. Breastfeeding is a skill that mothers and babies learn together. It takes time for mothers to feel comfortable, recognize feeding cues, position baby, help baby latch correctly, and establish breastfeeding. The best way to get started is to take our breastfeeding class prenatally.
"The 3 Cs"
It may take time for you to develop a strong breastfeeding relationship with your baby. Before you begin breastfeeding, it is important to review "the 3 Cs.”
You and your infant should both be:
At UPMC Magee-Womens in Central Pa. we support skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth. Skin-to-skin contact helps your baby adjust to life outside the womb by regulating your baby’s temperature, blood sugar and heart rate. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that skin-to-skin contact should be maintained until after you breastfeed your baby for the first time.
Your baby’s sense of smell will allow her to find your breast and begin to latch on. Skin-to-skin contact also helps babies stay awake during feedings and can extend breastfeeding for an average of six additional weeks.
In addition to starting breastfeeding within one hour of birth and maintaining skin-to-skin contact, we recommend a number of other practices to promote successful breastfeeding, including:
- Nursing in a laid-back position
- Breastfeeding often
- Avoiding bottles or pacifiers, until breastfeeding is fully established, unless they are medically necessary
- Learning to recognize your baby’s hunger cues
Your baby's first food is colostrum. Colostrum is a yellow to clear liquid that your breasts produce before your milk comes in. It provides your baby with essential nutrients and infection-fighting antibodies.
Other benefits of colostrum include:
- High levels of protein
- Easily digestible
- Helps to loosen excess mucus in your baby after birth
- Serves as a natural laxative to help clear your baby's intestinal tract
- Provides protection from illness due to antibodies and passive immunities
- Coats your baby's stomach and intestines to protect against stomach upset
Supply And Demand
If your baby nurses immediately after birth and frequently thereafter and is allowed to finish each feeding completely, he will have all the milk he needs for proper growth and development. Your milk production is regulated by supply and demand—the more milk that is removed, the more milk your body makes. Therefore, if less milk is removed, your body will make less milk.
Skin-to-skin contact can be extremely beneficial for premature babies. If your baby is premature, you can be sure that our nurses and staff understand this benefit and make every effort to allow you to bond with your baby. Studies have shown that skin-to-skin care reduces a premature baby’s need for oxygen and helps stabilize his vital signs. Your partner is also encouraged to provide skin-to-skin care for your baby.