Your Birth Plan
Once you've selected your health care provider and your hospital, it's time to let them know exactly what you want regarding your birth, your baby, and breastfeeding. Complete this plan with your family and share it with your doctor, your baby's doctor, and other hospital staff.
Breastfeed Right After Birth
Breastfeeding is an important part of birth. Begin breastfeeding your baby within an hour following the birth if possible and continue to feed your baby on demand throughout the first 24 hours. Early, frequent, unrestricted breastfeeding offers health benefits to you and your baby while preventing common breastfeeding difficulties. Be patient. Your baby will feed anywhere from 8-12 times in a 24 hour period, some will nurse more, others may need to be gently awakened.
Breastfeeding Helps You Recover
When you are nursing during the first 24 hours after birth, you may notice cramping that feels similar to menstrual cramps. Don't worry, this is a protective response that helps your uterus shrink to prevent excessive bleeding.
For 40 weeks, your body satisfied his needs – providing warmth, protection, food, and oxygen. The first hours after birth can really affect how he adjusts to life on the outside. One way to ease your baby's transition to the outside world is skin-to-skin contact.
Have your baby stay in your room with you, not in the nursery. This is called rooming-in. New babies must eat frequently, day and night. When your baby is in the same room, you will see when your baby is hungry.
Many mothers wonder when and how frequently they should breastfeed their babies. Your baby will let you know when he's hungry...just watch his amazing ability to communicate with you and show you when he's ready to breastfeed.
Limit Your Visitors
It's hard to get breastfeeding going when you have a lot of visitors. Too many visitors can be overwhelming when you need to breastfeed your baby every two to three hours. There will already be plenty of hospital staff coming in and out of your room. By limiting your personal visitors, you can cut down on distractions, leaving plenty of time for breastfeeding and for important skin-to-skin contact. Take the time to rest and get breastfeeding off to a good start.
Most cesareans section births (C-sections) are unplanned. A C-section should not prevent you from breastfeeding. However, know that you may need extra help in the first weeks after your baby is born. Certain breastfeeding positions may more comfortable than others. Ask your WIC peer counselor for suggestions if you are experiencing any discomfort.
If you receive an epidural or any other labor medications, your baby might need a little more time before he is ready to nurse. Hold him skin-to-skin and be patient. It may take two or more hours before he is ready to start breastfeeding. If your baby has difficulty sucking or latching on at any time, ask for help right away!
Whether your baby is healthy and born just a few weeks early or is born very early and is too small to breastfeed, he needs your milk! A premature baby needs your milk more than ever...it will help him grow bigger and stronger.
If your baby is born with special needs, he needs the benefits of breastfeeding even more than other babies.
Twins, Triplets, Oh My!
Can you really breastfeed twins or triplets? Of course...the benefits of breastfeeding are multiplied!
Click here for some other resources that will help you develop your birth plan.