If you decide on a natural birth plan, without a lot of medications and interruptions, your baby will be more likely to breastfeed immediately after birth.
Most babies have a powerful sucking reflex straight after birth, but it is also normal for a baby to only nuzzle or lick a little. Some babies will latch on very well, while others take some time to get the hang of it.
Studies have even shown that a newborn baby can crawl from the mother’s abdomen to her chest and latch himself onto the breast straight after birth, without any help.
If the baby does not initiate breastfeeding on his/her own after 50 minutes or so, then the mother can help him/her latch on.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding Right After Birth
- Nursing your baby as soon as you can after birth, will help your uterus contract.
- Breastfeeding at birth speeds up delivery of the placenta.
- Breastfeeding at birth also helps to initiate immediate bonding between the mother and baby; this is due to the hormone Oxytocin that is released.
- Breastfeeding as soon as possible stimulates the production of milk.
- Mothers who breastfeed shortly after birth have been found to breastfeed their babies longer and more successfully.
- Suckling decreases the tension and stress of birth and labor for the baby and will help mom relax too, as she will be producing the feel-good hormones during nursing.
Tips to Make Breastfeeding at Birth More Possible
- A natural birth experience is best. Having a non-medical birth, if possible, with as little medication as you can. Drugs can make babies sleepy and less able to suck the way they should.
- Skin to skin contact between the mother and baby will help the baby stay warm after birth, and will increase the chances of successful breastfeeding after birth.
- Educate yourself about a good latch. You should never let your baby suck on your nipple alone, he/she should always have the nipple and a large part of your areola in their mouth for the best possible milk transfer.
- If your baby does not seem interested in breastfeeding immediately after birth, you can rub some colostrum on baby's lips to entice him/her.
Things That May Interfere With Breastfeeding After Birth
- An epidural can result in a baby being extra drowsy and experiencing a poor suck after birth.
- Narcotics can hamper breastfeeding at birth success.
- A Cesarean delivery. Babies who are delivered via c-sections have been found to be lethargic and less enthusiastic about sucking, for up to two weeks after birth.
- Having a premature baby.
- Having your baby put in the Intensive Care Unit. In this case, a mother might need to pump exclusively, until her baby is able to breastfeed.
Important ~ Period After Birth While Breastfeeding
- Remember that if you are experiencing very sore nipples, your baby is most likely not latching on correctly. Some nipple sensitivity, in the beginning, is normal but other than this, you should not have severe pain, cracks or bleeding. Seek the help of a lactation consultant.
- Try not to rush breastfeeding at birth, these first moments together are mostly to introduce your baby to the breast, not to fill his/her tummy.
- For the first few days, your breasts will be producing only colostrum until your mature milk comes in. This colostrum is produced in small amounts and is genuinely filling and nutritious and is enough to fill your baby’s tiny tummy.