AT THE HOSPITAL
Nurse in the first hour. Newborns tend to be alert and responsive right after delivery, making it the perfect time to initiate breastfeeding. As long as baby is full term and doesn’t need urgent medical care, the AAP recommends placing her on your bare chest immediately following birth (or up to 45 minutes after a C-section) and letting her stay until after the first feeding. This skin-to-skin contact won’t only comfort baby, but it can also help her tap into her instinctive reflexes to latch onto your breast, Barger says.
Try being laid-back. While many women do just fine with traditional breastfeeding positions—such as the football, cradle, cross-cradle and side-lying holds—more lactation consultants are beginning to favor “laid-back” breastfeeding, in which you’re in a well-supported, semi-reclined position with baby draped diagonally across your torso. Some moms find that this position is more comfortable and allows baby to feed more effectively, explains West.
Be roommates. Newborns nurse better and mothers have higher milk production when they room together in the hospital (and at home), says West. By staying in close proximity 24/7, you’re more likely to pick up on baby’s hunger cues and nurse more often. Since not all hospitals let moms and babies room together full-time, consider finding out about your local hospital’s “rooming in” policy before deciding where to deliver, says Hoover.
Avoid hospital hiccups. One out of every three moms stops breastfeeding early if she doesn’t get good support during those first crucial hours and days in the hospital, the CDC says. Unfortunately, most medical facilities in the United States aren’t providing enough help and/or have policies and practices that can actually hurt the process. State your preferences upon arriving at the hospital and ask your doctor to leave written orders stating that baby is not to receive any bottles of formula or water, says Sally Wendkos Olds in The Complete Book of Breastfeeding (2010). Another tactic: Tape a sign to the baby’s bassinet that states “Only breast milk for me!” or “No bottles or pacifiers, please!”