While you may have heard “breast is best,” and that you should breastfeed your baby for at least one year post-childbirth, many new moms don’t realize how challenging this undertaking can be. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Tell others you want to breastfeed
Talking to others about your breastfeeding goals can create a supportive environment at the hospital and at home.
Meet with a lactation consultant
While you’re in the hospital, your doctor or nurse can provide a referral to a lactation consultant. This health care provider can teach you the following:
Wait to set up a feeding schedule
Feeding your baby early and often is the best way to ensure a full milk supply and a contented baby. It is best to follow your baby’s cues, not the clock, in determining how often to breastfeed. In the first few days, as you establish your milk supply, feed your baby whenever he or she shows signs of hunger. This should occur at least eight times in a 24-hour period. Feeding on demand can boost your milk supply and ensures your little one is getting enough nutrients. Hunger cues include:
Sleep in the same room as your baby
Sleeping in the same room as your baby allows you to more readily respond to your little one’s hunger cues. Place the baby in a bassinet near your bed. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against co-sleeping to reduce sleep-related deaths.
Buy a breast pump (covered by insurance)
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance companies must cover the cost of a breast pump, whether you purchase or rent one. However, plans that were grandfathered in, meaning they existed before the ACA was established in March 2012, are exempt. Be sure to contact your insurance company directly to confirm your pump is covered. Some companies may also require preauthorization from your doctor.
To learn more about breastfeeding, prenatal care and childbirth, visit UCLA BirthPlace.