BHealthy Blog

Ten Steps for the Breastfeeding Learning Curve

By Jessica Donahue, RN, IBCLC, Baptist Health Expressly for You

Breastfeeding can be a challenging and rewarding experience for new mothers. It requires patience, dedication, and love to ensure that breastfeeding is successful.

Here are some breastfeeding tips to make the learning process easier:

1. Stay healthy during pregnancy

Eating right, sleeping well, and exercising during your pregnancy is very important.  Wellness during pregnancy provides you the energy to care for yourself and your newborn after delivery. 

2. Try to have a natural unmedicated birth

Inductions, c-sections, and pain medications during labor can make it more difficult to get breastfeeding off to a good start. Sometimes these types of deliveries are necessary. But, if you can have a natural, unmedicated birth, you should consider it. Not only is healing from a natural birth often easier, but you can usually start breastfeeding very soon afterward.

3. Immediate skin-to-skin contact

As long as your baby is born healthy and full-term, your doctor should be able to place the baby directly on your bare chest with his stomach facing down on your body. Your newborn can be dried off and examined right there on your chest. Skin-to-skin contact helps keep your infant warm and secure, helps maintain his body temperature and blood sugar, and triggers his natural feeding instincts.

4. Breastfeed your baby as soon as possible after delivery

If you can, breastfeed your baby while you’re still in the delivery room during the first hour after the birth. If this isn’t possible because your baby needs to go to the special care nursery,  or you have to have a C-section, then put the baby to the breast as soon as possible. If you have to be away from your baby for a while, ask your nurse for help with hand expression and pumping. The earlier you can start removing milk from your breasts, the better.

5. Get a good latch from the very beginning

Have your nurse or lactation consultant show you how to position your baby to make it easier for them to latch on. An effective latch ensures infants can remove milk effectively, which causes your breasts to develop an abundant supply. An effective latch will also help you avoid some common, but often avoidable, breastfeeding challenges such as nipple pain and engorgement. 

6. Breastfeed your newborn often

Frequent removal of milk, eight or more times in 24 hours, is the foundation of establishing a milk supply and getting breastfeeding off to a good start. It is not abnormal for infants to feed from the breast 10 -12 times a day in the first few weeks of life.  For 9 months they were held constantly and fed continuously. Frequent feeding in the first few weeks of life is normal.

7. Keep your baby with you in the hospital, also known as “rooming in”

When you keep your baby with you it is easier to read their feeding cues and get breastfeeding off to a good start. Rooming in helps with bonding continued skin-to-skin, and makes your baby more accessible to you for those frequent feedings that he or she needs. 

8. Delay pacifier use

Breastfeeding often during the first few weeks stimulates your body to produce a healthy supply of breast milk, and pacifier use can interfere with the amount of time your baby spends at the breast. Therefore, try to hold off on the pacifier until your baby is about two weeks old. By this time, your baby will be breastfeeding well, and your milk supply should be established.

9. Avoid giving supplemental feedings with formula or a bottle

In the first few weeks of life, your breast milk is exactly what your infant needs. Like pacifiers, the early introduction of a bottle can cause difficulties for your newborn who is learning to breastfeed. You can prevent these difficulties by avoiding the bottle and any supplements for the first few weeks unless your child’s pediatrician suggests.

10. Get support

Baptist Health and the Arkansas Department of Health collaborate on a 24-hour Arkansas Breastfeeding Helpline. Any mother can speak with a lactation consultant 24/7 by calling 501-202-7378.  

Baptist Health Expressly For You is an outpatient breastfeeding resource center located on the Baptist Health Little Rock Campus. You can drop into our boutique to purchase breastfeeding supplies, schedule an appointment with one of our lactation consultants either in person or via VIRTUAL call 501-202-7378 to schedule today. There is also a location in Fort Smith for mothers in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. 

Baby-Friendly Designation Locations

At Baptist Health, we understand the importance of providing excellent women’s health care and thus have been awarded the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Baby-Friendly USA Hospital designation for our Little Rock, Conway, Stuttgart, and Arkadelphia locations. We are also dedicated to expanding successful breastfeeding initiatives across all six hospital sites, with Fort Smith and North Little Rock firmly on their way toward earning the same designation.

If moms choose to breastfeed, they deserve the best support possible. Our providers follow a set of guidelines developed by a team of global experts and consist of evidence-based practices that have been shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration. Our commitment is focused on providing mothers everywhere quality, evidence-based care for a healthy start for both mother and baby.