Breastfeeding an infant in the first few days after birth can be a challenge. For a first time parent, there is nothing quite as disorienting as arriving home from the hospital with a newborn and no instruction manual. The conflicting advice from well-meaning family, friends and professionals abounds: Never wake a sleeping baby! Wake the baby to feed! Don’t give the baby formula! Give the baby formula! Breastfeeding is always painful in the beginning! Breastfeeding should not be painful! And on and on. . .

So, what are new parents to do when the nurses, lactation consultants, pediatricians and family all give different advice? The internet is chock full of “factoids” —in other words, the beliefs of the author though not necessarily evidence-based, medically sound, or comfortable for you. Some decisions may be black or white, but many should be guided by the parents’ priorities and values rather than the internet or well-meaning friends. Circumstances change rapidly, questions arise, and priorities change so it is important to line up your trustworthy resources such as pediatrician and board-certified lactation consultant before you have the baby.

Here are some feeding tips for the first few days:

  1. Put baby to breast immediately after birth if possible and hold baby skin-to-skin as much as possible after birth to encourage baby to breastfeed more frequently (at least every 2 — 3 hours around the clock in the critical first days).
  1. After breastfeeding, and especially if you can’t put baby to breast or baby is not latching (or you are not sure), hand-express to remove colostrum from your breasts and feed it to baby with a spoon or syringe.Early removal of colostrum (the small amount of first milk) in first hours and days, ensures best possible milk supply. Colostrum helps prevent dehydration in your baby before milk is plentiful. It also acts as a laxative to help baby expel meconium (first bowel movements).
  1. Every time baby is fed using a bottle, spoon, or syringe during the first days (not directly at the breast), you need to hand express and/or use a breast pump to get the message to the breasts to produce more milk (supply and demand principle to preserve and/or increase your milk supply).

Consider joining me in Palo Alto, along with other new parents and their babies, in finding your “parenting voice”, as we meet to learn and discuss feeding, sleeping, post-partum recovery, developmental milestones, return to work or stay-at-home parenting, and anything else related to new family life.

There are multiple groups weekly, for parents of babies 0 — 6 months old, 6 — 12 months old, and parents of multiple-age children. All groups meet at Parents Place 200 Channing Ave, Palo Alto. For more information, please contact Cherie at 415-828-1700 or [email protected] or consult the Parents Place site.

Cherie Tannenbaum, NP, IBCLC is a Family Nurse Practitioner, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Parent Educator at Parents Place in Palo Alto. She is highly recommended by pediatricians and parents for her comprehensive individual lactation and sleep consultations and welcoming baby groups and classes. Her clients appreciate her knowledge, experience and non-judgmental style. Cherie is the mother of four daughters, two of whom are twins.