Like giving birth, the experience of comfortably breastfeeding your baby is almost impossible to describe.
With the right information and support, breastfeeding is comfortable and satisfying for mothers and babies.
Women & Infants Hospital supports the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation that babies should be fed breast milk for their first year of life and into their second year. This information will help you get started and answer many frequently asked questions about breastfeeding. If you have other questions about breastfeeding, please call the nurses on our Warm Line at 1-800-711-7011, Monday through Friday from 9 am to 9 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. They can provide advice and information, and make referrals to our lactation consultants if needed.
What will my milk be like?
The first milk, called colostrum, is very thick and sticky and may look like cloudy water or the color of butter. It has thousands of living cells that protect against infection, and is easy to digest for a baby learning to nurse. Your baby's stomach is about the size of his or her fist, so each feeding will only be about a teaspoon the first day and about a tablespoon the second day.
Your breasts will feel heavier and fuller by day three or four as your milk changes to mature milk. There will be more milk. This looks like skim milk and provides all the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months of life.
When do I feed my baby?
Feed your baby on cue, about every 1½ to 3 hours. Look for these signs that he or she is ready to nurse:
- Eyelids fluttering
- Bringing hand to mouth, sucking motions
Crying is a late sign of hunger. A crying baby needs to be calmed before feeding. To calm your baby, do skin-to-skin. Let your baby suckle on your clean finger with your fingernail touching his or her tongue. Stroke your baby. Talk to him or her. Swaddle or rock the baby.
» Preview the feeding cues for preterm and full term infants.
How can I get my partner involved in breastfeeding?
Having a new baby can be as overwhelming for dads and partners as it can be for moms. They often wonder how they can help. Dad/partner can:
- Do skin-to-skin with the baby. It is a nice way to calm the baby and allow the baby to learn dad/partner's scent and touch.
- Hold the baby when he or she cries, change the diaper and bring the baby to you to nurse.
- Talk to the baby so he or she gets to know their voice.
- Massage/bathe/dress/change the baby.