Choosing how to feed your baby is an important decision that has life-long effects for your baby and for you. Nature designed human milk especially for human babies, and it has several advantages over any substitute ever developed. Your milk contains just the right balance of nutrients, and it contains them in a form most easily used by the human baby's immature body systems. Because it was developed for your baby, your milk is also the most gentle on your baby's systems. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends breastfeeding for at least 6 months because of its association with reducing the risk for SIDS, as well as its other protective effects. Our goal as a Baby Friendly hospital is to have our new mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies.
Learn more about breast milk here.
Before Your Baby is Born
Breastfeeding can be both a beautiful and challenging experience. We believe that education before the birth of your baby is essential to success. We recommend that you attend one of our monthly Breastfeeding Basics classes taught by a Certified Lactation Specialist to prepare yourself and to answer any questions you may have.
At the Time of Birth
Our nurses are specially trained to help you with your baby’s first feeding. We encourage you to experience the Sacred Hour, in which your baby will remain skin to skin with you until they breastfeed. This is when babies are the most alert and ready to feed for the first time.
If you have a C-Section, you can still experience the Sacred Hour, but if there is a medical reason that prevents this, you may nurse your baby in the recovery room or as soon as you are stable.
On the Mother-Baby Unit
All of our nurses have received extensive training to help you establish a good latch and learn how to breastfeed. Our RN Board Certified Lactation Consultants are available several hours per day for those who need extra assistance. If you need to pump to help you establish your milk supply, relieve engorgement, or for your baby in the NICU, we provide a hospital grade Medela Symphony 2.0 pump as well as supplies for you to use as an inpatient.
Many new mothers worry that their baby may not be getting enough to eat or that they are not producing enough milk, but a newborn's stomach is so small it only takes about one teaspoon of milk to fill it. Your milk will "come in" around three to five days after the birth of your baby, however, frequent breastfeeding sometimes speeds up the process of establishing increased milk production. Supplementing during this time may delay and reduce your milk production.
Once You are Home
It is best to breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first three to four weeks in order to allow the mother's body to establish milk production and avoid "nipple confusion" between the breast and an artificial nipple. You may also want to avoid pacifiers during that time so that no hunger cues are missed. Introducing the bottle for substitute or supplementary feeding prior to four weeks has been found to contribute to a decrease in milk production.
If you plan on returning to work, you may have to introduce your baby to the bottle in order for them to get breast milk in your absence. Some babies may take the bottle with no trouble, while others find it more challenging. If you have a longer maternity leave you may want to introduce a bottle at around 10 weeks, however, there is no need to offer a bottle daily until one to two weeks prior to your return date. Click here for more tips on introducing a bottle.
- Getting started
- How milk is made
- Effective breastfeeding
- Effective sucking
- Breastfeeding difficulties - mother
- Breastfeeding difficulties - baby
- Health considerations when bottle feeding