Here are some tips and resources for breastfeeding success.
Talk to your doctor or midwife about breastfeeding.
While you are pregnant, tell your doctor or midwife that you plan to breastfeed. Ask what kind of support is available to help you learn how to breastfeed.
If you have a health condition or take any medicines, make sure it's okay for you to breastfeed. Most conditions and medicines won't keep you from breastfeeding.
Get help from a breastfeeding specialist.
Many health centers, clinics, and hospitals have lactation (breastfeeding) experts to answer all your questions and help you get started.
Your doctor or midwife may refer you to one of these experts. They are usually called lactation counselors, consultants, or specialists.
Get help from another mom.
Breastfeeding peer counselors are moms who breastfed their own babies and took classes to learn how to help other women start breastfeeding. Ask your doctor or midwife how to find a peer counselor near you.
After you begin breastfeeding, it's normal to have lots of questions. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or lactation counselor as often as you need to.
What about cost?
Support for breastfeeding is covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. This help includes counseling and access to breastfeeding supplies for pregnant and nursing women.
Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get help with breastfeeding at no cost to you. Talk to your insurance company to find out what this means for you. For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.
Find out about WIC.
WIC is a government program that can help you get healthy food for yourself and your baby. Ask your doctor or midwife to help you sign up for this no-cost program. Find out more about WIC.
Make a plan for after your baby is born.
You can provide breast milk for your baby even when you are apart. A lactation counselor can help you learn to pump and store breast milk for your baby to have while you are away.
If you plan to go back to work after pregnancy, talk to your supervisor ahead of time about where you can pump and store your breast milk at work. Most employers are now required by law to give you time and a place to pump milk for your baby.
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Get close to your baby right away.
Tell your doctor, midwife, or nurse that you want to cuddle with your baby skin-to-skin right after you give birth – and that you want to breastfeed within 1 hour. This will help you and your baby get off to a good start with breastfeeding.
At first, your milk will be yellow. This is called colostrum (“coh-LOSS-trum”), and it’s very good for your baby. Your regular milk will come in after a couple of days, and your breasts will feel full.
Nurse whenever your baby is hungry.
Newborn babies need to nurse often – usually about every 2 hours. And it's normal if your baby nurses more often than that. Nursing regularly is also important for you, because it signals your body to make enough milk.
Watch your baby for signs of hunger, such as:
- Moving his head from side to side (called rooting)
- Being more alert
- Acting fussy
Check out these simple steps to breastfeeding success [PDF - 1.3 MB].
Ask for help if breastfeeding is difficult.
Breastfeeding is new for you and your baby, and it will take time and practice. Keep in mind that most women are able to work through any problems they have with breastfeeding at first.
Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt.
You may think breastfeeding is a little uncomfortable at first, but it’s not normal for breastfeeding to be painful. If you have pain during breastfeeding, it may be a sign that your baby isn’t getting all the milk he needs.
Talk to your doctor, nurse, or lactation counselor if you have pain or any other problems. Ask for help so that you and your baby can enjoy breastfeeding.
Give your baby vitamin D.
Babies need vitamin D for healthy bone growth. Even if you take extra vitamin D, your breast milk won’t provide enough vitamin D for your baby. Talk to your baby’s doctor or nurse about how to make sure your baby gets enough vitamin D.