Most newborns are ready to be breastfed within the first hour after birth. While in the hospital, your baby can stay with you instead of the nursery, making it easier to breastfeed. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for your baby during the first six months because your milk has all the nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop. It also contains antibodies to protect your baby from health problems, lowers your baby’s risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and is easier to digest than formula. You can continue breastfeeding up to your baby’s first birthday while introducing new foods. After that, you can continue as long as you and your baby prefer.
To encourage your baby to attach or “latch on” to your breast:
- Hold your baby directly against your skin right after birth.
- Cup your breast in your hand while stroking your baby’s lower lip with your nipple.
- Your baby will open his or her mouth wide in a yawn.
- Bring your baby close to you while directing the nipple toward the roof of the baby’s mouth. (Don’t bring your breast to the baby.)
Babies will let you know when they are hungry by looking alert, bending their arms and closing their fists. When they bring their fingers to their month, offer your baby your breast. If you wait until they cry, they will find it harder to latch. When full, your baby will relax and close his or her eyes.
During the first few weeks, most eat at least 8-12 times in 24 hours or at least every 2-3 hours from the start of one feeding to the start of another. Some feed from both breasts while others feed from only one. Offer both each feeding, and, if not needed, save the unused breast for next time. Many newborns feed 10–15 minutes on each breast. However, babies can nurse sometimes 60–120 minutes at a time or feed every 30 minutes.
Ways breastfeeding is good you
- Releases the oxytocin hormone, which causes the uterus to return to its normal size more quickly and may decrease the amount of bleeding after giving birth
- May reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer
- May make it easier to lose weight after pregnancy
What to eat and drink while breastfeeding
You need about 2,500 total calories per day if your body is in the normal range to make enough breast milk for your baby. You should eat fish and seafood 2-3 times a week, but avoid fish with high mercury (see pg. 19). Your physician may recommend continuing on your prenatal vitamin while breastfeeding. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids (more if your urine is dark yellow.)
You should drink no more than two alcoholic drink a day and should wait at least two hours after one drink before breastfeeding. The alcohol will leave your milk as it leaves your bloodstream. Caffeine should be drunk in moderation (200 mg a day). Newborns and pre-term infants are more sensitive to its effects so you may want to consume a lower amount the first few days.
- Don’t smoke or take illegal drugs.
- Only take prescription drugs for medical reasons (these should be discussed with your health care team before taking).
- Talk with your physician about birth control methods that are right for you. Most can be used while breastfeeding including hormonal methods. If you notice a decrease in milk while using a hormonal method, let your physician know.
Breastfeeding is good for you and your baby. Talk to your physician if you are having difficulties.
We encourage all obstetrical patients to look into prenatal classes at Cabell Huntington Hospital. Childbirth classes are available as well as classes on breastfeeding, infant CPR, new baby care, and sibling classes. For information or to register, please call 304-526-BABY.
Community service organizations
- Cabell County Family Resource Network: 304-697-0255
- United Way, Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership, Education Matters, Financial Stability and Success by 6: 304-523-8929
- Huntington City Mission: 304-523-0293
Early childhood/development/day care
- Birth to Three: 304-523-5444
- Head Start & Pre-K: 304-697-4600
- LINK Child Care Resource & Referral: 1-800-894-9540
- TEAM for WV Children: 304-523-9587
- WV Help Me Grow: 1-800-642-8522
- Cabell-Huntington Health Department: 304-523-6483
- Ebenezer Medical Outreach: 304-529-0753
- Medicaid: 304-528-5800
- WIC – Cabell County: 1-800-953-1009/304-302-2013
- WV Children’s Health Insurance Program: 1-877-WVACHIP
- Family Child Care Food Program: 304-751-5253
Crisis and emergency needs
- Maternal Addiction & Recovery Center (MARC): 304-691-8730
- Abuse Hotlines (children and adult protective services, domestic violence): 1-800-352-6513
- Branches Domestic Violence Shelter: 304-529-2382
- Information & Referral (referrals, utility assistance, food and clothing pantries, etc.): 304-528-5660
- Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222
- Marshall OB Concern Line: 681-378-4662