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Mother starts breastfeeding her baby in the park

How and when to start breastfeeding?

These tips and hints will help you and your baby get off to a successful breastfeeding start.

The start of breastfeeding

If possible, mothers should be able to have undisturbed skin-to-skin contact with their babies immediately after birth. When the baby has recovered somewhat from the exertions of delivery, they are usually calm and awake and intensively perceive the new impressions around them.

All on its own, it usually begins to move on the mother’s stomach toward her breast, take it in its mouth and suck. Take your time and that of your baby. Keep it in contact with your skin. After some time, it will be ready. Every baby is different and takes time.

Mother and baby are both prepared

During pregnancy, the baby has been preparing month by month for its life and its first food source: It has practiced sucking its thumb and drunk amniotic fluid. At the same time, the hormonal system has “programmed” the mother’s body and breast for breastfeeding. So when your baby is born, everything is taken care of. As a rule, you just need to get started.

Even though it may not work immediately, you should trust yourself and your baby. Soon you will be a team that works well together.

The formation of milk

The first milk, called colostrum, is produced by the breast as early as the 16th week of pregnancy. So the first milk is already there for the baby at birth, even if the baby is born earlier than expected.

Colostrum contains essential protective substances that line the baby’s intestines and protect it from diseases. Colostrum supports the immune system and contributes to a healthy intestinal flora. It is rich in nutrients, easily digestible, and stimulates the newborn’s bowel movements. It is yellow and thick.

  • You should feed your baby frequently in the first few days to ensure they get enough of the colostrum.
  • Your baby’s sucking releases two critical hormones in your body for breastfeeding: prolactin, which ensures milk production, and oxytocin, which causes milk to be released. Some mothers feel that the milk is starting to flow by a tingling sensation or a warm feeling in the breast. You can tell if everything is going well when your baby sucks and swallows contentedly.
  • Between the second and fourth day, the breast usually produces transition milk. This is also often referred to as “milk let-down”. The breasts now become much larger. The colostrum is creamy and yellowish and feeds the baby until the end of the second week.
  • The baby now wants to nurse very often, especially in the evening or at night.

After that, the mature breast milk is formed, which looks more whitish-bluish. This is breast milk that does not change until the end of breastfeeding.

Breastfeed as often and as long as your baby likes it

Newborns have small stomachs and need frequent small meals. When the baby is hungry, it often seeks, sucks, or smacks – it becomes restless.

At the latest, when it cries and moves a lot, it should get the breast. Breastfeed eight to twelve times in 24 hours or more often – the intervals between feedings can be between one and three hours, especially in the beginning. With each breastfeeding, new milk is made, and the amount of milk gets bigger quickly, and so does the baby’s stomach.

Get help – in the clinic as well as at home

Most clinics today offer the option of placing the newborn in the mother’s room (rooming-in). This allows you to have your baby with you and breastfeed them as needed.

Choose the place of birth accordingly because rooming-in helps you and your baby adjust well. It also makes it easier for you to find security and confidence in handling your baby.

How often you breastfeed depends on your baby’s needs. In special situations, they may need to be awakened for breastfeeding, for example, if they are not gaining enough weight, if they are drinking weakly, or if they are yellowing (hyperbilirubinemia).

Most newborns want to nurse about ten to twelve times in 24 hours or more frequently.

Have the midwife or lactation consultants at the clinic show you how to properly latch your baby into a good breastfeeding position. They are especially skilled at sorting out initial difficulties and helping you avoid many breastfeeding problems.

Even when you are at home with your baby, you should not hesitate to ask your midwife or a breastfeeding specialist for advice and help if there are any problems or uncertainties. They will also be happy to help you with minor questions.

A cesarean section does not interfere with breastfeeding

After a peridural (anesthesia from the waist down), a healthy baby can be put on right after surgery. After a cesarean section with general anesthesia, breastfeeding is possible as soon as you feel able. If possible, have someone help you with latching on so that you can hold your baby well.

Premature babies grow into breastfeeding

Breast milk is essential for premature babies. If a baby is still too weak to suck, it can still be fed breast milk. All hospitals now encourage pumping and feeding with breast milk (through tubes or by the bottle).

Your midwife or lactation consultant will help you prepare for breastfeeding. If your milk is not enough, ask for donated breast milk.

Some children’s hospitals have women’s milk collection points that can provide carefully checked and hygienically safe donor milk from women.

You should be there for your baby in the premature infant ward as often as possible. If possible, place your baby between your breasts, warm it, and stroke it using the kangaroo method – dressed only in a diaper and possibly a little cap. This close skin contact usually develops quickly, and breastfeeding is also possible more quickly.

Twins can also be fully breastfed

With two babies in their arms, mothers have their hands full. Twin mothers can breastfeed both babies fully. Again, demand regulates supply, so breastfeeding is possible for twins and even triplets as long as both mother and children want it.

Other mothers opt for two-milk feeding, which means each baby is alternately breastfed and bottle-fed. Multiples should also be breastfed as needed for optimal stimulation of milk production.

Many twin mothers breastfeed both children simultaneously to align their sleep and wake times. This allows the mother to use her little downtime to rest or eat. Finding your own way and getting help and support is essential. It is helpful, for example, to exchange ideas with other mothers of twins.

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