If you can imagine, being born has got to be an incredible experience. It is the greatest transition any human will ever make during their existence on earth. Most women today choose to breastfeed, even if it is only for the first few weeks of life. We know that this is the best way to nourish and feed a baby. The benefits of breast milk cannot be duplicated. Many couples want to breastfeed right away and it is very important to give the baby ample opportunity to do so during the first hour of life. Before babies can make attempts at latching and sucking—which they are programmed to do—they need to get used to breathing air, seeing bright light, feeling cold or warm, and hearing louder noises. This transition takes place within a few minutes and usually by about 20 minutes old the baby starts showing obvious signs that he/she is ready to latch and suck. It is very important that the baby remain with his/her mother during this time. Unless the baby is sick or seriously struggling to breathe, in mother’s arms and skin to skin is the best place to be. He/she can actually smell the familiar smell of “mother” and will be able to taste that this is “mother.” When baby smacks his/her lips and roots around, it is time to work on the initial latch. Some babies are born knowing what to do, others need some time to learn. At minimum a successful first attempt at breast feeding is showing interest. If the baby is interested that is a great start! For some moms breastfeeding comes very easily and naturally, others need to practice holding, positioning, and latching before they are comfortable. Much of breastfeeding success lies in correct positioning. A baby that is malpositioned will cause pain for the mom which will not help her success or enjoyment. Ask to meet with a lactation consultant at your birth facility. Have the name and number of a lactation consultant handy when you go home. Often, breastfeeding challenges come when the milk comes in, 2-5 days after the baby is born. Be patient with yourself and your baby while breastfeeding is established and get help if you need it!
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