Breastfeeding Basics

Prepare to Nurse a Lot

How soon should you start nursing after the baby is born? “We like to see initiation of breastfeeding within the first 60 minutes of life, or in the case of a Cesarean section, within the first two hours, if possible, is preferable,” says Meek. Unlike formula-fed babies, who eat every three to four hours, breastfed newborns typically “cluster feed” or “marathon feed” (nurse for as long as two hours) in their first few days.

While it may seem like your baby is approaching your body as if it were a 24-hour buffet, the truth is that newborns need to nurse that much, says Harvey. Their suckling stimulates nerves in your breasts that send chemical messages to Experts also advise delaying the introduction of a pacifier.

“Some babies are sensitive and aren’t quite as agile at going back and forth between methods of feeding, whether the breast or bottle or nipple,” says Meek. “Once they’ve established breastfeeding, then it’s okay to introduce pacifiers.”

Also, most hospitals allow infants to “room in” with their moms, an advantage that gives moms and their babies a leg up. “It ensures mom is always available to the baby, rather than waiting for a baby to be brought in from the nursery screaming and starving,” says Meek, who notes that crying is a late feeding cue. Don’t worry—you won’t be tied to your glider forever. Over the course of the first week, your baby will settle into a more predictable feeding pattern.