Getting started with breastfeeding and finding a routine that is comfortable for you and your new baby takes time and patience. Both during pregnancy and after birth, your midwife can provide the education, information, and support you need to successfully breastfeed, if that is your plan.


Before your baby is born, your midwife may talk with you about your plans for feeding your baby and can help you prepare for breastfeeding. Your midwife will most likely encourage you and your baby to have skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, which helps make breastfeeding easier. After birth your midwife can continue to assist you with breastfeeding and help you in the early days as you and your baby settle into your own rhythm with nursing. Your midwife can also track how you and your baby are doing with nursing during post-birth check-ups and help you make changes if needed.


The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your new baby. Besides helping you bond with your baby, you are feeding your baby the most complete form of nutrition. Breast milk has the best mix of protein, fat, sugar, and water that babies need to grow and develop. Breast milk also supports a healthy immune system, which helps keep your baby from getting sick. Even if you need to use a bottle to give your baby breast milk, the milk your body makes is better for your baby’s overall health and digestion than formula.


Breastfeeding has benefits for your health as well. While you were pregnant, your body was storing fat for nursing. By breastfeeding you may find it easier to lose the weight you gained while pregnant. Breastfeeding also helps your uterus return to its original size more quickly. This reduces the chance of bleeding that may have continued after birth. You will usually have a longer time before your periods return after giving birth if you nurse your baby. Overall, breastfeeding is a win-win situation for both you and your baby.  As an added bonus, breastfeeding can save you and your family hundreds of dollars over time, as breast milk is free, unlike formula.


Getting Off To a Good Start

Breastfeeding does take some work and practice to get both you and your baby used to each other, but the benefits for mom and baby are definitely worth it! Some tips for getting started and helping work breastfeeding into your routine include:

  • Breastfeed as soon as possible after birth, ideally within the first 2 hours.
  • Keep your baby with you; if you give birth in a hospital, ask your hospital about rooming-in.
  • Breastfeed “on demand” – any time your baby seems hungry. Lots of women feel like all they do in the first weeks is breastfeed. By 6 to 8 weeks, you will find that you and your baby have gotten into a rhythm, and your baby will usually be able to go longer between feedings.
  • In the first few weeks, breastfeed often, without a time limit (8-12 times in 24 hours). Every baby is different. Some babies may need to feed more often. Others may be able to go longer between feedings.
  • Avoid breast milk substitutes or a pacifier until your milk supply is well established.
  • If you have to go back to work, ask your midwife for tips and resources on pumping milk. You may even be able to rent a pump that is covered by insurance.
  • Ask for help whenever you need it!


Your Midwife’s Role during Breastfeeding

As you begin breastfeeding, your midwife is an ideal professional to answer your questions. Your midwife can also point you to resources that will help you and your baby become comfortable with this new relationship, including:


Breastfeeding consultants: If you are having trouble with breastfeeding, talk to your midwife about finding a professional lactation consultant—an expert in breastfeeding. A professional breastfeeding consultant will help you with trouble latching on, painful nursing situations, trouble producing enough or too much milk, or for your baby, trouble gaining weight.


Peer support: If you are having trouble breastfeeding, have questions, or just want to talk with other mothers, your midwife may recommend visiting a peer-support group. La Leche League International is a worldwide group dedicated to breastfeeding education and support. A local La Leche League group can help you find others in your community who you can talk to about breastfeeding and being a new mother.


Information sources: There are many excellent information resources available on breastfeeding. Ask your midwife to provide you with information or point you to professional resources, such as the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health Share With Women handouts on breastfeeding and


Sometimes difficulties can occur while breastfeeding. Remember to talk to your midwife during your post-birth visits about any questions or concerns that you have during this period. Common conditions include infection or sore nipples, which may be painful but are easy to treat. Your midwife can guide you on how to ease and avoid discomfort as you adjust to breastfeeding.

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