Breastfeeding A to Z

Breastfeeding Your Baby

The first week after delivering your baby brings lots of changes. As your baby adapts to the world around them, you will be learning to adapt to parenting them. It will take patience but you will get it. Learning anything new takes time. Very soon, no one will know your baby better than you do. It’s been suggested that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. (1) That means you will be an expert on your baby in roughly 417 days!—but even if you don’t feel that way some days– no one else will have more understanding of your baby, faster than you do. When it comes to feeding your baby here are a few things that can get you off to the best start after delivery (2):

Hold your healthy newborn skin-to-skin until they have accomplished their first feeding. (3)(4)

Your baby will be most alert and awake for up to 2 hours after they are born.  This is the time to let them breastfeed. Medication given during labor and delivery may have some effect on that state, but you ideally, want to initiate breastfeeding within the first hour after birth, because after that quiet alert time, they will sleep for a longer stretch and be harder to wake to feed. (2)(4)(5)

Keep your baby with you. Having your baby room with you and having your baby’s care done in your room as much as possible is ideal. Separation of mother and baby can interfere with feeding and bonding. (4)

If you choose to use a pacifier with your baby WAIT to introduce one, until they are at least 2-3 weeks old and gaining weight. If at all possible, this allows them the chance to master breastfeeding before being introduced to another way of sucking. The way a baby sucks on a bottle or pacifier is different than when they are breastfeeding. (5) Using a pacifier has been shown to reduce the duration of breastfeeding. (5) Your baby may have trouble going back and forth between breast and pacifier because the method of sucking is different. (6)We don’t know which baby’s will have trouble. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends waiting until your baby is 3-4 weeks old and breastfeeding is well established before introducing a pacifier. (6)(7) In order to be sure everyone knows your wishes, you can put a sign on your baby’s hospital crib that reads—NO PACIFIERS.

Usually your baby doesn’t need anything besides breast milk for the first 6 months of life. (7) If the baby needs something besides breast milk for a medical reason, ask that a cup or special feeder be used instead of a bottle. We want them to be experts at breastfeeding before they learn another way to feed.

Learn to “baby watch”  versus watching the clock. Feed your baby on demand at their earliest signs of hunger. (8)    See 7 Signs Your Breastfed Baby is Hungry


  1. Gladwell, M, Outliers: The Story of Success, New York, NY, Little Brown & Co, Hachette Book Group, 2008, p 47.
  2. Holmes, AV, McLeod, AY, Bunik, M, The American Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, Protocol #5 Peripartum Breastfeeding Management for the Healthy Mother and Infant at Term, 2013.
  3. Newman, J, Pitman, T, The Latch and other Keys to Breastfeeding Success, Amarillo, TX, Hale Publishing, 2006, pp 21, 28, 152, 161-63.
  4. Mannel, R, Marten, PJ, Walker, M, Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, 3rd edition, Burlington, MA, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2013, pp 498-502, 588.
  5. Lawrence, RA, Lawrence, RM, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Professional, 7th edition, Maryland Heights, MO, Elsevier Mosby, 2011, pp 34, 203, 245.
  6. Mohrbacher, N, Stock, J, La Leche League International The Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Revised Edition, Schaumburg, IL, La Leche League International, Jan. 2003, pp 29-30.
  7. Kleinman, RE, Greer, FR, Pediatric Nutrition, 7th edition, Elk Grove Village, IL, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2014, pp 51, 222.
  8. Wambach, K, Riordan, J, Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, 5th edition, Burlington, MA, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2016, p 236.  Note: publishing date does say 2016.