Seven tips for successful breastfeeding

woman breastfeeding baby

Breastfeeding is a learned skill that requires patience and practice. For some women, the learning stages can be frustrating and uncomfortable. The good news is that support for breastfeeding mothers is growing. If you’re a mom-to-be or new mom, these seven tips will help you prepare for successful breastfeeding.

1. Breastfeed as soon as possible after birth. Continue breastfeeding at least eight to 12 times every 24 hours to make plenty of milk for your baby. For the first few days after birth, your baby will likely need to breastfeed about every hour or two in the daytime and a couple of times at night. Healthy babies develop their own feeding schedules. Follow your baby’s cues for when he or she is ready to eat.

2. Ask for an on-site lactation consultant to help you. Some babies latch on right away. For others, it takes more time. If you’re having trouble getting your baby to latch on properly, ask for help. A lactation consultant can explain how to manage latching difficulties and show you various ways to hold your baby while breastfeeding.

3. Learn your baby’s hunger signs. When babies are hungry, they become more alert and active. Crying can be a late sign of hunger, and latching on may be harder once your baby is upset. Offer your breast as soon as your baby shows rooting or other hunger signs. Over time, you will learn your baby’s cues for when to start feeding. Early hunger signs include:

  • Restlessness or wiggling
  • Grasping hands and feet
  • Bringing hands to mouth or face
  • Light sucking motions followed by stronger sucking
  • Rooting behavior (trying to suck on anything near the mouth)
  • Sticking the tongue out
  • Light sounds or whimpering
  • Body stretching
  • Turning the head to the side

4. Keep your baby near you. Allow your baby to stay in your hospital room all day and night so you can breastfeed often. Or ask the nurses to bring your baby to you for feedings. At home, have your baby sleep in a crib or bassinet in your bedroom so you can breastfeed more easily at night. Babies who share a room (but not a bed!) with parents have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

5. Follow your baby’s lead. Make sure you are both comfortable and your baby is latched on well. Some babies take both breasts at each feeding. Other babies take only one breast at a feeding. Help your baby finish the first breast to ensure he or she gets the “hind” milk — the fattier milk at the end of a feeding. Your baby will let go of the breast when he or she is finished, and may fall asleep. Offer the other breast if your baby seems to want more milk.

6. Prevent “nipple confusion.” Avoid using pacifiers, bottles and infant formula in the first few weeks unless there is a medical reason to do so. If a bottle is needed, try filling it with expressed breast milk before using formula. Feeding at the breast is best. Regular breastfeeding helps you make milk and keeps your baby from getting confused while learning to breastfeed.

7. Know when to wake your baby. In the early weeks after birth, you should wake your baby to feed if four hours have passed since the beginning of the last feeding. You can gently wake your baby by:

  • Changing your baby’s diaper
  • Holding your baby skin-to-skin
  • Massaging your baby’s back, abdomen and legs

If your baby falls asleep at the breast during more feedings, ask your doctor to check the baby’s weight to ensure your baby is eating enough. You may also want to see a lactation specialist to make sure your baby is latching on well.


Breastfeeding classes

Breastfeeding Essentials

Taught by a certified lactation consultant, this class provides advice and techniques for having a successful breastfeeding experience. This class is ideal for expectant moms who have decided to nurse their infants as well as those who are undecided on an infant feeding method. Support persons are encouraged to attend. Topics include the benefits of breastfeeding, latching on and positioning, breast care, returning to work and more.

Norton Suburban Hospital (future home of Norton Women’s and Kosair Children’s Hospital)
6 to 8 p.m.
Sept. 9
Oct. 8
Nov. 3, 25

Norton Hospital
1 to 3 p.m.
Sept. 3
Nov. 12

5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 21
Oct. 7

Breastfeeding: Beyond the Basics

Taught by a certified lactation consultant, this class provides more in-depth information for breastfeeding moms to help when they are away from their baby or returning to work. Topics include choosing a breast pump, proper pumping practices, workplace considerations and more. Ideal for moms-to-be and new moms.

Norton Suburban Hospital
6 to 8 p.m.
Aug. 28
Oct. 14

Prenatal and newborn classes

Ready for the big day? Norton Women’s Care provides flexible class schedules for expectant parents to help prepare for all aspects of childbirth. Find classes that work for you. All prenatal classes are free

To register for these classes, call (502) 629-1234 or visit NortonHealthcare.com/parent-classes.