12 Tips for Better Breastfeeding

Feed baby often. Frequent nursing is key to a well-nourished baby—and a good milk supply.  During the first month, every two to three hours is a good rule of thumb. But instead of watching the clock, looks for baby’s hunger cues, such as increased alertness, physical activity, hand sucking, mouth movements (such as opening and closing his mouth or sticking out his tongue) or moving his head side to side (as if looking for something like a breast). Try not to wait until she’s crying—a late sign of hunger.

Give yourself a hand. The number one reason new moms stop breastfeeding? Not enough milk. Prevent the problem by hand-expressing more milk after breastfeeding, which helps prompt your body to produce more milk, says Jane Morton, MD, a pediatrician in Menlo Park, Calif., and a clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University. She recommends using one hand to express anywhere from a few drops to a teaspoon of milk into a spoon, then feed it to baby. Do this five times daily during the first three days after birth. (Find a demo here.)

Set limits on visitors. We don’t blame you for feeling uncomfortable whipping out a breast in front of old Uncle Eddy, but it can mean missed breastfeeding opportunities. Plus, babies tend to get overstimulated when they’re being passed around from one ooohing and ahhing well-wisher to the next. Both are great reasons to minimize visitors—in the hospital and at home—while the two of you are still getting the hang of feeding. As Barger puts it, “If they aren’t there to scrub toilets, cook dinner, vacuum or do the wash, then they shouldn’t be there.”

Put off the pacifier. Babies who start sucking on binkies before they’ve mastered breastfeeding may have more trouble learning how to nurse and may not eat as frequently (which, in turn, could mess with Mom’s milk production). Wait at least a month before introducing one.