Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Breast-Feeding Essentials - Brief Version
It's a great idea to breast-feed. Babies who are breast-fed
have fewer infections and allergies during the first year of
life than babies given formula. Breast milk doesn't cost
anything. It is ready anytime. Breast milk is made
especially for babies.
How do I get started?
It's good to breast-feed soon after the baby is born. If
you can, hold your baby close and let your baby nuzzle your
breasts. If your baby is eager to feed, he or she will try
to nurse. Here are some things to remember:
- Start by getting comfortable yourself. Be sure to get a
drink of water, milk, or juice if you are thirsty.
- Use pillows for support.
- Hold your baby tucked in very close to your body.
- Support your baby well.
- Make sure your baby takes a large mouthful of your
breast. Wait until his mouth is wide open. Put in as
much of the dark area around the nipple (the areola) as
Nurse your baby whenever your baby cries or seems hungry.
Your baby will probably nurse at least every 2 hours or so
at first. It's a good idea to nurse at least 8 times a day
How long should I feed my baby?
Nurse your baby 10 minutes on the first breast and as long
as he wants on the second. Your goal is to have your baby
nurse for a total of about 30 minutes at each feeding.
Remember to change the breast you start with each time.
Once your milk supply is well established (about 2 to 3
weeks after birth), 10 minutes of nursing per breast is
How do I know if my baby is getting enough?
The more you nurse, the more breast milk you make. But
because you can't see how much breast milk a baby is
drinking, many women worry their baby is not getting enough.
You can be sure that your baby is getting what she needs,
- Your baby is gaining weight.
- Your newborn has 6 or more wet diapers a day and at least 4
bowel movements a day.
It's a good idea to make sure:
- You get plenty to drink every day -- at least 8 glasses
of water, milk, or juice.
- You eat a variety of healthy foods, especially foods with
- You get the rest you need.
Should I give formula or water in a bottle?
You do not need to give your baby formula or water. Your
breast milk has just what your baby needs. He or she does
not need extra water or formula. And giving your baby
formula and water, especially in the first 4 to 6 weeks, can
actually lower your milk supply. It's best to offer only
the breast, at least until your milk supply is well
What should I do if my breasts become swollen or painful?
Having swollen breasts often happens between the second and
fourth days after birth. It may take a little while for
your breasts and your baby's feedings to get in balance.
Your breasts may also become swollen if:
- Your baby is not feeding often.
- Your baby is not feeding long enough.
- Your baby is not in the right position when nursing.
The best thing to do is to breast-feed well and often!
Check to make sure that your baby is in the right position.
It can also help to express a little milk before you start
to nurse. Putting wet, warm cloths on the breasts or taking
a warm bath or shower can also help. Then the baby can
latch on to the breast more easily.
What about fluoride and other vitamins?
After about 6 months of age, your baby may need fluoride if
he is not drinking water or your water supply does not have
fluoride added to it. Talk to your health care provider
about this and other vitamins your baby may need.
Where can I get help with breast-feeding?
If you have questions or worries, call your health care
provider. You may also want to get the help of a lactation
consultant trained to help women who are breast-feeding.
Parent support groups such as La Leche League or Nursing
Mother's Counsel can also be helpful.