Step 1 in the breastfeeding basics was to do your homework. Hopefully you have found an intro to breastfeeding class, you’ve been on youtube searching latching tutorials and instructional videos and you’ve picked up a few breastfeeding books. While you’re sitting at home twiddling your thumbs anxiously awaiting your little one’s arrival do yourself a favor and actually flip through that book and educate yourself on what to expect.
Step 2 is to deliver your baby and nurse him/her as soon as you can. Studies have shown that infants who nursed soon after birth had a longer duration of breastfeeding than infants who were first put to breast 3 to 6 hours after birth ( Taylor, 1986 ). Infants who had skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding immediately after birth were able to recognize the smell of their mothers own milk more readily at 4 days of age than were infants who had no skin-to skin contact and breastfeeding immediately after birth. They also had longer breastfeeding duration. This recognition of maternal milk odor may be related to successful breastfeeding ( Mizuno, 2004 ). Further, babies that had this early and immediate skin to skin contact with their mothers showed increased interaction, stayed warmer without the addition of heat lamps, cried less, were more likely to be breastfed and were breastfed for a longer duration.
Of course there are situations were immediate breastfeeding is delayed (c-section, complications, drowsy newborn, etc…) and in these cases breastfeeding should be initiated as soon as it is medically possible and both mom and baby are ready. Ongoing skin to skin contact should be continued as much as possible in these early days of babies life to facilitate bonding and a successful breastfeeding relationship.
* This post is part of a Breastfeeding Basics series. Click here if you missed Part 1 *