Getting started the right way will make breastfeeding easier for both you and your baby.
It’s a good idea to hold your baby in skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after the birth. Usually your midwife will dry the baby off and give him to you to hold. Close skin contact helps to:
- keep your baby warm and calm
- regulate your baby’s breathing and heartbeat
- make the first breastfeed easier
After a while your baby will start to show signs of wanting to feed. The midwife will offer to help you position your baby at the breast for the first feed. It may take half an hour or longer before your baby is ready for his first feed – this varies a lot from baby to baby.
The first feeds
The milk you produce in the first few days after the birth is called colostrum. It’s full of the antibodies which help protect your baby from infection, so even if you don’t continue breastfeeding, your baby will receive some benefit from this. Colostrum is only produced in small amounts, but that’s all your baby needs at this stage.
It’s best if your baby stays with you all the time, including sleeping in the same room (the hospital may call this rooming in). This helps you learn about your baby and become a confident mum as soon as possible. It also means that breastfeeding is established more quickly. The Cot Death Society recommends that your baby shares your room for at least the first six months. Some breastfeeding mothers find night-time feeding easier if the baby sleeps in their bed, but there are times when it isn’t safe. A leaflet on bed-sharing and how to do it safely can be downloaded here.