Learn about how birth impacts breastfeeding. Breastfeeding complications can be linked to the birth experience, birth choices, interventions and care providers. If you can avoid unnecessary interventions, it is recommended, so you reduce the risk of complications associated with interventions. If you cannot (because birth is unpredictable) then it is good to have an understanding of the interventions and how they impact breastfeeding so you can take necessary precautions or measures to help protect breastfeeding still. If interventions are suggested it is ok to ask more questions, gain more information and make your own decision. It is also important to understand how medications in labour will affect breastfeeding. Again, if you can minimize risk of medication exposure by having a drug free birth it is recommended. This is not alway feasible so understanding the impacts, means you can know what to do to counteract the medication effects.
Skin-to-skin immediately after birth. You want to welcome your baby into your arms and on to your tummy or chest immediately after delivery. This step has so much incredible impact that the first hour after birth is known as the Magical Hour. There is very little of more importance that needs to happen more in this hour, than mom and baby being skin-to-skin. Any infant procedures can be delayed until the first breastfeeding experience has occurred. During this hour baby will start to move towards the breast, without anyone doing anything, and go through a series of steps that come before they instinctively begin breastfeeding. This might take 30-50 minutes. Be patient. Enjoy watching your amazing baby. Take in your baby's smell and look. Talk to your baby. Sing to your baby. Connect with your baby.
Once baby locates the breast and latches on, they may feed and rest on and off for an hour or two. This is now three hours post delivery. It will feel like just moments in time for you. Continuing to be uninterrupted during this time is impactful to your hormones, specifically prolactin & oxytocin, which in turn is responsible for your milk production and milk release. Avoiding separation and things like showering & bathing, is recommended. Baby will be receiving colostrum during this stage of feeding. Frequent feeding helps change the colostrum to transitional milk and starts the increase in milk volume. The oxytocin also helps your body with contracting the uterus, preventing against postpartum hemorrhage.
Limit visitors after birth and the immediate hours following the birth. I know you want to show off your baby & I know others want to meet your baby. Or maybe you do not want visitors but you are being pressured. This is the perfect excuse to not have everyone visit right away. Your partner is one exception from the handing off of the baby. Having too many people handle the baby interrupts this physiological process that needs to happen in order for long term breastfeeding success. If you would like to have visits, prepare them that baby will likely be skin-to-skin or breastfeeding. They are welcome to come see YOU but may not get to snuggle baby quite yet.
REST. So after the first breastfeeding session your baby will likely want to sleep. And you will want to rest, too. Once baby has had some rest, it will be the start of frequent feeding sessions.
The first 3 days are hard. You might feel a little like your baby must not be getting anything and that is why they won't stop feeding. This is not the case. Babies are incredibly smart and are setting the stage of their future milk supply but nursing frequently in the first few days. Switching sides often is important; start feeds on opposite breasts at each feed. Babies might have a short nap between sides and then have a longer nap after that second side. Napping when baby naps is critical. Get help with easy nutrition and meals for yourself.
Get help early! If you have pain, trauma, a sleepy baby, baby is not latching or baby is not peeing and pooping as expected, you need assistance. These are red flags and not expected and acting fast will make a big impact on your success.
Take a breastfeeding class. This will help you learn more in-depth about breastfeeding, prepare for breastfeeding and learn as much as possible and how breastfeeding works, positions and strategies for challenges that come up.