Expert Breastfeeding Secrets

The new breastfeeding you

Most new parents can and should make their first breastfeeding attempt within an hour of giving birth, says the AAP—but it could be many more feedings before you’ve got the hang of it. What’s a breastfeeding novice to do?

Get help.
Prepping yourself with classes and books—as well as a hands-on lactation lesson with a breastfeeding counselor while still in the hospital—can be immensely helpful. But many new parents say they wouldn’t have been able to keep breastfeeding had they not gotten the help of a lactation consultant after being discharged.

“I read a La Leche book and had breastfeeding under control at the hospital, but had to call a lactation consultant when I got home,” says Jennifer Vallens, 37, a new parent and former human resources director and mom to Evan, 3, and Mason, 22 months. “I completely lost the hang of how to latch when I was on my own.” To find a lactation consultant in your area, visit La Leche League International at or the International Lactation Consultant Association at

Be patient.
At first, you’ll likely be breastfeeding your baby for up to seven hours a day (30 to 45 minutes per feeding), says Paula Caplan, R.N., a certified lactation education counselor (CLEC) and cofounder of Milkin’ Mommas ( in Calabasas, Calif. Just try to remember: “After the first few weeks, the baby works more efficiently and it goes faster,” Caplan notes. “In fact, studies show it takes an infant 21 days to imprint the task of breastfeeding.”

Take care of yourself.
Eating healthfully, staying well hydrated and getting enough sleep (if possible!) will keep you—and your milk supply—going. Pediatric cardiologist Ismee A. Williams, 35, new parent to Auden Eileen, 3, and Amaia Claire, 9 months, recommends eating oatmeal, drinking lots of water (“I drink around three liters a day”) and avoiding alcohol—even beer— which can decrease your milk supply. “Sleep when your kids sleep and go to bed early for the first couple of months,” adds Ophira Levant, 37-year-old new parent to Eitan, 22 months, and 5-month-old Liora.

Next: Where’s my milk?