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Breastfeeding Tips
Compiled by Nancy Eggleston

StorkNet celebrated World Breastfeeding Week 2003 for the entire month of August. These are the tips of the day we shared with our members . . .

August 1 ~ Milk production works on the basic principle of supply and demand. The more often your baby nurses and the more milk he takes, the more milk your body will produce.

August 2 ~ Nipple Confusion. While establishing your milk supply, offering your baby anything other than breast milk may interfere with the delicate balance of supply and demand. In the early weeks, all of your baby's sucking should take place at the breast. For more information, see Artificial Nipples/Nipple Confusion.

August 3 ~ Let-Down Reflex. As your baby rhythmically sucks your breast, the nerves inside your nipple are stimulated to send a message to your brain. This signals the pituitary gland to release two hormones, prolactin and oxytocin. These two work together to create the let-down-reflex, which is a good thing for both baby and you! For more information about let-down reflex, click here.

August 4 ~ Colostrum is the first milk that your body produces and is available to your baby immediately after birth. It is high in protein and low in fat and is produced in small amounts. Because your baby is born with extra fat and fluids to help sustain him during the first two to three days of life, he won't require anything other than colostrum--the perfect starter food for your baby! Click here to read here for more about colostrum.

August 5 ~ Mature Milk. Once your mature milk comes in, allow your baby to nurse for at least 10 minutes on each breast to ensure that she is receiving the calorie rich hindmilk. Let her decide when she is finished with the first breast and is ready to switch. The longer she nurses, the more rich hindmilk (and calories) she receives. Another added benefit of the mature milk is the natural relaxing effect it has on your baby.

Mature Milk ~ Your milk will begin to change from colostrum to mature milk approximately three to four days after delivery. The time when your milk "comes in" will vary, depending on how frequently and effectively your baby has been nursing, as well as on your body's own reaction to the birth. Mature milk is greater in quantity than colostrum, and your breasts will suddenly become fuller. It is pale white or bluish in color and may look watery and thin. The composition of mature milk changes as your baby nurses. The milk your baby receives at the beginning of a feeding is different from the milk he receives at the end of the feeding. During a feeding, as your baby extracts milk from your breast, it gradually increases in calories and fat content. Foremilk is the milk your baby receives immediately, as soon as he latches on. This first milk has a high lactose content and is composed largely of water which satisfies your baby's thirst. After a few minutes of sucking, hindmilk is released. Hindmilk has a higher concentration of fat and is similar in consistency to cream. Hindmilk is important to satisfy your baby's hunger and provide him with the calories needed to gain sufficient weight. Once your mature milk comes in, allow your baby to nurse for at least 10 minutes on each breast to ensure that she is receiving the calorie rich hindmilk. Let her decide when she is finished with the first breast and is ready to switch. The longer she nurses, the more rich hindmilk (and calories) she receives. Another added benefit of the mature milk is the natural relaxing effect it has on your baby.

August 6 ~ Communicate! It's very important that the hospital staff be fully aware of your desire to breastfeed your baby. Make it clear that you will be breastfeeding exclusively and you do not want your baby to receive any supplemental bottles of formula or glucose water (unless medically necessary). If you are having a homebirth, discuss this with your midwife and support group ahead of time. Remember, the rewards of breastfeeding for you and your baby are far too valuable to let the opportunity to get off to a good start slip away because of lack of communication.

August 7 ~ Rooming-in is one of the best ways to establish a successful breastfeeding relationship. If you are in a hospital and rooming-in is not available, let your nurse know that you would like to have your baby with you as much as possible. This will allow you to care for your baby while others care for you! At home, set up your room to keep baby near you.

August 8 ~ Plan to breastfeed your baby as soon as possible after birth, ideally within the first hour, when your baby's natural sucking reflex is strongest. Immediately after birth babies are in a quiet alert state, and most are ready and eager to nurse during this time. Within a couple of hours they become sleepy, and it is more difficult to interest them in the breast. Some babies may just nuzzle and lick the nipple instead of actually latching on. If your baby doesn't seem interested and is unsuccessful at latching on during this time, don't become discouraged. The closeness and warmth of the direct skin-to-skin contact will be comforting to both you and your newborn.

August 9 ~ Remember, breastfeeding is a learning process for both you and your baby; it may take several attempts before your baby latches on well. Once your baby is latched on properly, let him nurse until he becomes drowsy or pulls off on his own, then offer him the other breast. He may suck for only a few minutes at each breast.

August 10 ~ Proper positioning and latch-on are two of the most important aspects of a successful breastfeeding relationship. Once you have mastered positioning your baby correctly, and your baby has learned how to latch on properly, you're on your way! Your baby is correctly latched onto the breast when he takes the nipple and large portion of the areola in his mouth. Check out Elaine Moran's latching-on information and photos in our breastfeeding cubby.

August 11 ~ Remember, the best position for nursing your baby is the one in which you are most comfortable and relaxed. In the early days of nursing, one position may be more successful for you than others, but as you progress you may find other positions work well, too. Just keep in mind that you do not have to use the same position each time you breastfeed.

August 12 ~ Offer your baby both breasts at each feeding. Once she is latched on and positioned well, there is no reason to set a time limit for feedings. Let her nurse from the first breast until she comes off on her own, either by pulling off or becoming drowsy. Then burp your baby and offer her the second breast. Keep in mind that once your mature milk comes in, it is more important that she breastfeed well on one breast--ensuring that he is getting a sufficient amount of hindmilk--than insisting she take the other if she is not interested. Begin the next feeding with the breast offered last.

August 13 ~ Burping. Many babies swallow little or no air while breastfeeding and may not burp at all during or after feeding. But often newborns will gulp hungrily and may swallow excess air. After your baby has finished feeding on one breast try burping him before offering the other. One way is to hold him firmly against your shoulder, supporting his buttocks with one hand and lightly patting or rubbing his back with the other.

August 14 ~ Frequency. During the first few days, breastfeed your baby as often as every one and a half to three hours around the clock. Feeding intervals are measured from the beginning of one feeding session to the beginning of the next. For the breastfeeding pair, the first six-weeks postpartum is a very crucial time for both mother and baby, and how successful you are at establishing your milk supply during these first few weeks will play a major role in your future breastfeeding success. During this time your milk producing hormones are setting the stage in establishing your milk supply. The more often you nurse your baby during this early period, the more efficient your milk producing hormones will be--throughout lactation. Read more about frequent and unrestricted nursing.

August 15 ~ Sleepy Baby. Following the initial period of alertness during the first two hours after birth, newborns often become quite sleepy for the next several days, and some babies would rather sleep than nurse. These sleepy babies do not feed as often as they should to support rapid growth, and when they do nurse, they may take only a few sucks before going back to sleep. It is important for mothers to be persistent in waking a sleepy baby for feedings during these early days. If your baby sleeps more than a three-hour period during the day, it is necessary to wake him for a feeding. Read more about waking a sleepy baby here.

August 16 ~ Meconium is the greenish-black, sticky, tarlike substance that fills your baby's intestines while in the womb. Colostrum acts as a laxative helping to clean out your baby's bowels of meconium, your baby's first stools. Your newborn should have a meconium stool within the first 24 hours after birth and may continue to pass small amounts of meconium over the next two to three days. This is a reassuring sign that his digestive system is functioning properly. Alert your baby's doctor if none has passed by the second day.

August 17 ~ Urinary Output. Even if your baby started breastfeeding within the first hour after birth and is nursing often and well, the normal urinary output for the first two days is usually low. While your baby is receiving colostrum, he should have at least one or two wet diapers in a 24-hour period and his urine should be pale yellow to almost clear in color. Once your mature milk comes in, your newborn's urinary output will begin to increase. He should have at least six to eight wet diapers in a 24-hour period by the fifth day. Read How Do I Know If My Baby Getting Enough Breastmilk for more on this topic.

August 18 ~ Basic Breast Care. While breastfeeding, your breasts and nipples really don't require any special care. The small bumps on your areola produce a special oil which naturally cleans, lubricates, and protects the nipple. Just rinse your breasts and nipples with plain warm water during showers or baths. Avoid using soaps, astringents, or alcohol, as they are drying and contribute to nipple soreness. Multi-ingredient nipple creams or lotions should also be avoided as they are not safe for ingestion by the baby. If you are using disposable nursing pads, avoid those with a plastic liner. Change all nursing pads often.

August 19 ~ Discomfort. If your nipples feel chapped and uncomfortable, you may apply 100% modified lanolin. Lansinoh is a good product and can be purchased through our StorkNet mall. Some nipple tenderness is normal, especially during the first few days of breastfeeding. You may feel tenderness for a few seconds each time you begin to nurse as your baby positions your nipple far back into his mouth. This discomfort should subside as soon as he begins to suck rhythmically and the milk begins to flow. If not, this generally means that your latching position is incorrect. Check our latching information here. If you are still having trouble, you may want to contact a lactation specialist for help with proper latch and positioning.

August 20 ~ Hunger Cues. Newborns rely on their mothers to read their hunger signs. Your baby may demonstrate signs of hunger for up to 30 minutes before he actually begins to cry. These hunger cues may include fussing, sucking on his fingers or fist, brushing his hand across his face, making little sucking motions, or rooting--turning his head and opening his mouth as if searching for the nipple. It is important to read his signs of hunger before he becomes too frustrated and upset to latch on properly.

August 21 ~ Baby's Cues. Responding to your baby's cues, the subtle ones as well as the cries, will allow him to develop a sense of trust in others, and knowing that he can influence his world will help him begin to build his own self-confidence. Even if at times you are unable to soothe your baby, continuing to try to comfort him will give him a sense that people care about how he feels and are there for him!

August 22 ~ Frequency. Once your mature milk comes in, your baby should request to nurse at least every two to three hours, or approximately eight to twelve times in a 24-hour period. Some babies will nurse more often than this! Feeding your baby when she shows signs of hunger will allow her to learn to satisfy her own appetite. Keep in mind, breast milk is easily digested, and as with all of us, babies' appetites vary from day to day.

August 23 ~ Comfort Nursing. Be careful not to interpret your baby's desire to nurse more often as a sign that your milk supply is inadequate. It is completely normal for your baby to nurse very often at certain times of the day during the first few weeks. Remember, too, that babies nurse for comfort as well as food. It is perfectly fine to nurse your baby if she seems fussy, even if it has been only 10 to 20 minutes since she last nursed. During these early days, nursing offers your newborn a great source of peace and security when she becomes overwhelmed with her new environment.

August 24 ~ Diapers. Once your mature milk comes in, your newborn's urinary output will begin to increase. He should have at least six to eight wet diapers in a 24-hour period by the fifth day. Your baby's stools will change in color and texture through these first days. Don't be alarmed. They may sometimes be seedy, curdly, loose, or even watery. Because breast milk has a natural laxative effect, the stools of breastfed babies are softer and more frequent than those of formula fed infants.

August 25 ~ Growth Spurts. You may just begin to see a pattern develop in your baby's nursing frequency, and then all of a sudden--out of the blue--your baby wants to nurse every half-hour or so all day long. Because babies grow so rapidly in such a short period of time, they go through occasional growth spurts. During these periods their appetites greatly increase, and they may want to nurse almost twice as often. This is normal. Their more frequent nursing will increase your milk supply to meet their growing needs.

August 26 ~ If you ever feel like giving up. Caring for a new baby is very time-consuming and physically and emotionally demanding. Keep in mind that the six-week learning period is the most difficult phase, and breastfeeding your baby does become easier with time. In a few weeks you'll look back on these days and wonder why you ever doubted your own abilities! If you ever feel overwhelmed, call a lactation consultant, call a friend or relative who breastfed for more than a few months. Nevertheless, if for whatever reasons, you are unable to continue breastfeeding, hold your head up high and pat yourself on the back for giving it your best shot. Any amount of time spent breastfeeding will benefit both you and your baby.

August 27 ~ Enjoy the joy of breastfeeding. In most cases, beginning about the seventh week, things begin to change and breastfeeding your baby becomes easier. As your baby grows and his digestive system matures, he becomes a more efficient nurser and has longer periods between feedings and longer stretches of sleep at night. Nursing your baby starts to become second nature. Minor problems such as engorgement, leaking, or nipple soreness have worked themselves out and your body has become accustomed to the breastfeeding process. You are well on your way!

August 28 ~ Milk Supply. There may be times when you will question your milk supply because of symptoms you are experiencing or because of your baby's behavior. Here are just a few examples provided by author Elaine Moran. For more, visit our Breastfeeding cubby's supply issues information, or read Bon Appetit, Baby by Elaine Moran.
  • Your breasts don't seem as full? As your milk production adjusts to your baby's needs and the initial engorgement subsides, your breasts may not seem as full. This is normal.
  • Your breasts no longer leak? Leaking has no relationship to your milk production. Leaking may become less of a problem once your milk supply is regulated to your baby's needs.
  • You don't feel the let-down reflex? Some mothers never feel the let-down reflex, especially in the first few weeks, and for others it becomes less noticeable over time.

August 29 ~ Pumping. There may be occasions when you will want to express your breast milk. Whether you remove milk from your breasts manually or with a pump will depend on your preference and the particular situation. Manual expression works well to relieve engorgement and soften the breasts just before a feeding session. Using a breast pump is usually preferred during times when you need to be separated from your baby or are planning to return to work. Pumping your breast milk while you are away will help relieve engorgement and maintain your milk supply. It is also necessary to pump if you have a premature or sick infant who is unable to take milk from your breasts, or when added stimulation is needed to increase your milk supply. Read our additional information about pumping.

August 30 ~ A nursing mother's nutritional requirements are just as significant as her newborn's. The general health and nutrition of the mother is very important to a successful breastfeeding relationship. Because you must nourish both your own body and your baby's, eating a sensible, well-balanced diet with a sufficient amount of nutrients and calories is vital for your own good health. Getting enough calories and nutrients from the widest variety of foods possible is the surest way to have the most energy and the most plentiful milk supply. Read more about Nutrition for You, Nutrition for Two here.

August 31 ~ Breastfeeding Benefits MOM! By now you know all the benefits your baby gains from breastfeeding, but do you know how much breastfeeding benefits MOM? Besides lowering your risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis, the release of breastmilk has a soothing effect on your body, stimulating the production of -endorphins, chemicals that bring on feelings of peace and relaxation and suppress anxiety and irritability. These same natural chemicals promote feelings of affection, well-being, and intimacy that help you bond with your baby. And let's not forget the breastfeeding burns an extra 200-500 calories a day which helps you regain your pre-pregnancy shape a little faster. Breasfeeding is good for baby AND good for mom!

Bon Appetit, Baby, written by Elaine Moran, offers a practical breastfeeding manual, nutrition guide, six week nursing diary, new mother's journal and a resource guide. You'll find everything you need to get started and continue on for extended nursing. Many thanks to the author for providing us with much of the information in this list of tips! Please visit her interview with StorkNet.

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