Breast-feeding immediately after childbirth is beneficial to both the mother and the baby. According to a Health24 review, breast-feeding immediately reduces bleeding after childbirth, while it increases the baby's resistance to infectious diseases.
Information and support can help new mothers overcome breast-feeding difficulties, a lactation expert says.
Skin-to-skin contact important
A pregnant woman should tell her partner and family about her breast-feeding goals and why they're important to her, said Dr Nicole Hackman. She's a paediatrician and medical director for lactation services at Penn State Children's Hospital, in Hershey.
New mothers "will need to rely on that support during the challenging days," she said in a hospital news release.
It's important for the mother and baby to have skin-to-skin contact for the first hour after birth, she said.
"Not only does that regulate the baby's heart rate, temperature and glucose level, but it can help the baby latch on and have the first breast-feeding session," Hackman said.
She said it's also a good idea to limit visitors during a baby's first week of life. That gives mother and baby private time to bond and learn to breast-feed. It also gives mom a chance to rest when her baby sleeps.
During that first week, a new mother should try to breast-feed whenever the baby is awake, Hackman said.
Nipple pain is not normal
"Because breast milk volume is all about supply and demand, the more demand a baby puts on mom, the more her supply will increase," she explained.
Though some mothers prefer to pump breast milk, their babies can still reap the benefits of mother's milk. It contains antibodies that help babies fight off germs, Hackman said.
Lactation consultants can help mothers achieve pain-free breast-feeding.
"There may be initial discomfort, but something isn't right if there is pain throughout the feeding session," Hackman said. "Nipple pain is not normal."
She added that babies who have been given a bottle or pacifier sometimes need to be retaught to latch comfortably at the breast.