Stefanie V. Overby, LPN
Nursing begins right after delivery. Infants will take to the breast as soon as they are born. Nursing as soon as possible will make your milk come in sooner, helping the baby to gain weight faster.
Medications taken during labor and delivery may affect the latch of the baby to the breast. The baby will feel the sedative effects of the medications given to the mother and will not be awake and eager to eat soon after delivery. The baby should still be put to the breast and encouraged to latch and nurse. It may take more coaxing depending on the amount of medication used, the duration of the labor and the type of delivery. As long as there is no health reason keeping mom from the baby, the baby should be allowed to latch as soon after birth as possible, preferably right after delivery. This does not mean that you should not have medications during your labor or delivery. This is just an explanation as to why the baby may not latch soon after delivery as you would like.
You will want to keep your baby in the room with you so you will be able to watch for feeding cues. If you are rooming in with the baby, you will know when she is awake and in a good mood. Nursing your baby when she is in a good mood will help you both to be able to work on a good latch and be successful with breast feeding.
Before your milk comes in, your breasts will contain colostrum. Colostrum provides nutrition and protection against infectious disease. This is important for your baby's health and is all she will need until your milk comes in. Colostrum has natural laxatives in it that will help your baby to have frequent bowel movements which help with the breakdown of bilirubin, decreasing the risk of jaundice. Your milk will come in about 2-4 days after delivery making your breasts feel very full. This full feeling will decrease in a week or so; this is only the blood and lymph swelling. You are making plenty of milk! The more you nurse, the more milk you will make. If you supplement, this will decrease your milk supply.
The size of a newborn's stomach is very small and can only hold small amounts at a time. This is why your baby will need to nurse 10-12 times in a 24-hour period. Nursing early in the hospital will start to build your milk supply and will help to keep your baby from getting jaundiced. Breast milk has natural laxatives in it that will help your baby to stool which leads to a breakdown of the bilirubin decreasing the risk of jaundice.
Choosing to nurse your baby is one of the best gifts you can give to him or her. Our office supports breastfeeding. We will be available for any questions or concerns you may have with your nursing experience.