Infants & Toddlers
August 3, 2018

8 tips for early breastfeeding success

by 7 Tips for Early Breastfeeding Success

Early breastfeeding success starts in the hospital.


Did you know that your hospital breastfeeding experience after your baby is born can impact your success? Here are some tips to help get breastfeeding off to the best start:


1. Ask for your healthy baby to be placed skin-to-skin on your chest right after delivery.

We call this the “Golden Hour.”  Our nurses can check your baby while you get to hold and bond.  We suggest that your baby stays skin-to-skin with you until the first breastfeed is completed or at least the first hour. Prepare your family that they might need to wait an hour or so before they hold the new baby. After all, you did the hard work and you should get to enjoy your baby first. This will mean that the baby will not be weighed until later. We say the “weight can wait.”


2. Feed your baby when she starts to root, smack her lips or gnaw hands.

You can’t breastfeed too often or too long. The more times you put your baby to breast the more milk you will make!


3. Ask for that first bath to wait.

Unless there is an infection reason to bathe your baby, it helps the baby keep a higher temperature, have better blood sugar and cry less if that bath waits at least 6 to 8 hours (if not longer).


4. Try to keep your baby in your room with you.

Most procedures and exams can be done in your patient room. Surprisingly, research shows that new moms do not get more sleep by sending the baby back to the nursery. It is a good idea to have a support person stay with you to help but if you don’t have any help be sure to discuss your preferences with your nurses. They are there to support you and honor the decisions you make for you and your baby.


5. Breastfeeding should not hurt!

If you are having pain, it often means that the baby is not latched on properly or it could be an issue with the baby’s mouth. Make sure to tell your healthcare team so they can help you.


6. It is normal to worry that you don’t have enough milk.

Remember that your baby’s tummy is small. Your baby will have a weight check every day in the hospital, and your healthcare team will discuss if your baby should ever need anything other than your breast milk. If you choose to give formula when your baby doesn’t really need it, then it can make your breast milk supply decrease.


7. In our hospital, we do not recommend pacifiers for healthy babies.

Pacifiers given too early may interfere with breastfeeding.  We suggest that you give a pacifier 2-4 weeks after delivery when breastfeeding is going well.


8. Before you go home, make sure that you know how to call your lactation consultant.

Check out the Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition or call the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline 1-855-4BFMOMS.

Your local WIC lactation counselor or La Leche League can be additional sources of support when you go home.


This post was written by Anna Morad, M.D., Vanderbilt Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Director, Newborn Nursery.


Read more

Check out our My Southern Heath post “Answers to 5 common breastfeeding questions” for much more useful information on this topic.


Infants, Breastfeeding

3 thoughts on “8 tips for early breastfeeding success”

  1. MaryBeth Strassel says:

    Please direct me to the research that proves pacifier use interferes with breastfeeding. I successfully nursed four children and started pacifier use in the hospital. There was never any “nipple confusion.” My first was two ounces over birth weight at four days old. Some women choose to be their baby’s pacifier and have baby at breast all the time. But not all want that. Pacifiers–which I used after i had nursed the babies and to put them down to sleep–blessed my life when I had young children. My own grown children, having seen caveats about pacifiers have waited to introduce them–in all cases unsuccessfully. They have been exhausted with constant shushing, swaying, etc. to soothe their babies. Incidentally all four pacifier babies have grown up to be lively caring affectionate adults.

    1. My Southern Health says:

      We’ll ask our breastfeeding team for sources. In the meantime, know that we completely understand that decisions around this are very personal and we support what works to help individual moms and their children. I am glad to hear that you and yours had successful breastfeeding experiences. My daughter, who is now 24 and earning her graduate degree at Belmont’s commencement this very evening, was a pacifier user till she was over 3 years old. Like your children, she is also lively, caring and affectionate — and smart as a whip (I know, I’m biased). We were not successful in breastfeeding; we switched to the bottle after 4 weeks when she was barely back to birth weight. But quite honestly, I don’t think the pacifier had anything to do with it. In fact, if I recall correctly (it was 24 years ago!), she didn’t use a pacifier much if at all in those early weeks. There are studies and there are general observations about what happens in large groups of people, but there are always individual exceptions too. Thank you for sharing your experience. – Cynthia

      Edited to add: Here is the link to the policy information from the American Association of Pediatrics. Our experts note that there is debate about “nipple confusion.” The medical literature includes observational studies which show an association with pacifier use and shortened breastfeeding duration. Of course, “association” doesn’t prove that something causes something. So we say that pacifier use “may” interfere.

  2. Sarah says:

    Pacifier use did negatively impact breastfeeding with my first child. Waiting made a huge difference with my second!

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