Mary Kay Vogel, IBCLC
Iowa State University Extension
A NEW BABY IS COMING
You have so much to think about.
- How will a new baby fit into your life?
- Will you know how to take care of your baby?
- What will your baby need?
- What will you need?
Although we shower babies with gifts, they need only a few
things: to be fed; to be kept clean, warm, and dry; and most of
all, to feel loved. As babies adjust to this world, they need
people to comfort and care for them.
There is one gift only you can give that satisfies many of your
baby's needs: you can breastfeed. Breastfeeding gives your baby
the very best start. Every time you breastfeed, you:
- provide milk that is just right for your baby,
- protect your baby from sickness,
- feel close to your baby,
- save time and money, and
- help your body get back into shape.
NOT SURE ABOUT BREASTFEEDING?
You are not alone. Some mothers think that their breast milk
may not be good or that breastfeeding may be painful or that breastfeeding
just will not work for them. But women all over the world breastfeed
their babies in a great variety of situations. Breastfeeding,
even for a short time, benefits you and your baby.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
You will need a few things to breastfeed: information about
how breastfeeding works, an opportunity to learn how to breastfeed,
and a few people to help and support you.
HOW BREASTFEEDING WORKS
YOUR BODY PREPARES TO BREASTFEED
As your baby grows inside you, your body prepares to nourish
your baby. Your breasts get larger and begin to make colostrum,
the first milk. Colostrum will protect your baby from germs and
You only need to wash your breasts with water. Special glands
on the areola, the darker skin around the nipple, keep the nipple
FLAT OR INVERTED NIPPLES
During pregnancy, check for flat or inverted nipples. Apply
a cold, wet cloth to your nipple. The nipple will protrude, stay
flat, or sink in. If the nipple stays flat or sinks in, it may
be difficult for your baby to breastfeed. Some mothers wear breast
shells during the last few months of pregnancy to help bring out
the nipple. (For information about breast shells, contact the
professionals in the “People Who Can Help You” section.)
Your body will make just the right milk for your baby in just
the right amount. How much milk you make depends on how well and
how often your baby breastfeeds.
Most babies breastfeed well when held correctly at the breast
and helped to latch on. Then the mother is comfortable too. Mothers
and babies need time to learn. Ask for help if you need to.
Babies are hungry often because their stomachs hold only about
1/4 cup milk. Your baby will need to breastfeed every two or three
hours during the day and at least two times at night. Breastfeed
often to ensure a good milk supply, a good weight gain for your
baby, and many chances for you to relax with your baby.
LEARNING HOW TO BREASTFEED
IN THE HOSPITAL
Talk with your health care provider before the birth and with
nurses who are helping you at the birth. Tell them what you would
like to do:
1. Breastfeed as soon as possible. In the first hour after birth,
newborns are usually very alert. Your baby welcomes the comfort
of your arms and the chance to breastfeed.
2. Breastfeed every two or three hours. Your baby will get a good
supply of colostrum and have many chances to learn to breastfeed.
3. Avoid giving bottles or pacifiers in these early weeks. A baby
sucks differently on a bottle nipple and may get confused. Using
a pacifier may keep you from making enough milk.
4. Keep your baby with you so you can breastfeed when your baby
first seems hungry. Babies breastfeed best then.
5. Ask for help to make sure you are holding and latching your
1. Take good care of yourself so you can take good care of
– Make a comfortable place to breastfeed.
– Have a healthy snack and drink nearby.
– Rest when your baby sleeps.
– Ask for help with household tasks.
2. You can make sure you have enough milk if you hold and latch
your baby on correctly and breastfeed 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.
3. Until you know breastfeeding is going well, count the wet and
dirty diapers. Babies are getting enough breast milk when they
have at least six wet and three dirty diapers in 24 hours.
4. You will feel better if you eat a healthy diet. Even if your
diet is sometimes not the best, you can still make the best milk
for your baby.
5. It takes a little practice for breastfeeding to go smoothly.
If you have any questions or concerns call a support person.
RETURNING TO WORK OR SCHOOL
You may wonder about returning to work or school. If you have
to stop breastfeeding, should you even start? Yes, there are many
benefits to you, your baby, and your family even if you breastfeed
just a few weeks. You and your baby will be healthier, and your
family will save money.
Many mothers combine school or work with breastfeeding their babies.
Stay home as long as you can. Postpone big projects. Use this
time to take good care of yourself, get breastfeeding off to a
good start, and enjoy your new baby.
The people at work or school can help you continue breastfeeding.
Think about what plans you can make:
- Work fewer hours or take fewer classes.
- Bring your baby along.
- Find a caregiver close to school or work, and go there to
- Plan to pump your milk and save it for the caregiver to feed
- Feed your baby formula while you are away.
YOU CAN BREASTFEED YOU BABY
– Find out how breastfeeding works.
– Give yourself and your baby a chance to learn to breastfeed
in the hospital and in the early days at home.
– Ask for help if you have any questions or concerns.
THE PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP YOU
Share information about the benefits of breastfeeding and how
it works with the people who are important to you and your new
baby. Ask for help and support. Talk to friends or relatives who
enjoyed breastfeeding their babies. They can encourage you.
For breastfeeding information and answers to your questions, call
a lactation consultant, health care provider, WIC breastfeeding
specialist, or La Leche League (1-800-525-3243).
National Network for Child Care – NNCC. Part of CYFERNET, the
National Extension Service
Children Youth and Family Educational Research Network. Permission
is granted to reproduce
these materials in whole or in part for educational purposes only
(not for profit beyond the cost of
reproduction) provided that the author and Network receive acknowledgment
and this notice is
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child
Care – NNCC.
Vogel, M.K. (1995). *Breastfeeding basics#1: Thinking about breastfeeding
(EFNEP 245)* (Breastfeeding Basics series). Ames, IA: Iowa
Any additions or changes to these materials must be preapproved
by the author .
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FORMAT AVAILABLE:: Print – 2 pages
Level 2 – Iowa State University Extension
COMMENT:: Adapted from publication by Idaho Department
of Health and Welfare.
DOCUMENT SIZE:: 23K or 5 pages
ENTRY DATE:: November 1995
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