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Below you will find information to help you succeed at breastfeeding your baby.

 Jump to:  Breasfeeding Guidelines :: Signs Breastfeeding is going well  ::
                  Diet Recommendations  ::  When to call your pediatrician  ::
                  When to call your lactation consultant  ::  Breast care  ::
                  Preparation and storage of breast milk

Breastfeeding guidelines

  • You will be encouraged to breastfeed your infant as soon after delivery as possible, usually within the first hour.
  • Place your baby skin-to-skin as often as possible. Your baby should have on a diaper only and be placed on your chest.
  • Allow the baby to nurse on one side until the breast tissue is softened and then offer the second breast. Allowing your infant to breastfeed until tissue is softened will allow the infant to get the hindmilk. Hindmilk is very rich, and promotes growth, and better sustains the infant from feeding to feeding.
  • In the early days of breastfeeding, it is recommended that you nurse your baby eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period, waking the baby if necessary.
  • Keep your infant in the room with you throughout your stay so that you may feed your baby on demand.
  • Let your nurse know if you need assistance with breastfeeding. A lactation consultant will visit you during your stay at the hospital.
  • During the first few days after delivery, the baby will receive colostrum, or concentrated milk that is rich in nutrients and antibodies.
  • You will notice an increase in milk volume between three and five days after delivery.
  • You should offer your breast when you see that your baby is cueing (sucking fist, licking lips, open mouth, etc.). Crying is a later sign of hunger.
  • You can expect your baby to have variable feeding patterns. It is OK if your baby does not take both breasts in one feeding.
  • Avoid the use of pacifiers, artificial nipples and supplements, unless medically indicated, until baby is latching on and breastfeeding well.
  • Growth spurts occur frequently during the first several months. Don't be surprised if you find your infant wanting to eat often. This is called "cluster feeding" and is normal behavior.

Signs breastfeeding is going well

  • Your breasts feel full before breastfeeding and feel softer after breastfeeding
  • Your baby seems satisfied after breastfeeding
  • Your baby's stool has changed to yellow-seedy by day 5 of life
  • You do not have nipple or breast pain
  • Your infant is stooling and voiding frequently by day 3 (six wet diapers, three stools in 24 hours)

Diet Recommendations

Remember to eat well-balanced nutritious meals. Eat when hungry and drink when thirsty. No specific foods should be avoided or eaten while breastfeeding. Most babies are not bothered by anything the mother eats. However, if your baby becomes fussy, you may want to investigate whether it could be attributed to what you have eaten. If you think there is a problem and suspect a particular food, remove the food from your diet for 48 hours and see if there is an improvement in your baby's behavior. Limit your caffeine intake (no more than two 8-oz. servings per day) and avoid alcohol while breastfeeding.

When to call your pediatrician

  • If your baby is fussy and cries a lot
  • If your baby does not void six times once milk is in (days 3-5 of life)
  • If your baby does not have three stools once your milk is in (days 3-5 of life)
  • If your baby seems hungry after breastfeeding
  • If you feel you need to supplement with formula
  • If your baby is sleepy and will not eat a minimum of eight times in 24 hours
  • If your baby appears jaundiced (yellow skin tone, yellow in the "whites" of the eyes)
  • If your baby's stools are not yellow by day 5 of life
  • If you feel your baby needs medical attention

When to call your lactation consultant

  • If your nipples are cracked, bleeding, and/or painful to latch
  • If you are unable to latch your infant
  • If your infant is not stooling and voiding adequately
  • If your infant is not breastfeeding 8 to 12 times initially
  • If you are supplementing with bottles
  • If you feel breastfeeding is not going well
  • If you have breast tenderness, redness and/or pain

Preparation and Storage of Breast Milk

  • Breast milk may be stored for up to three months in a freezer and six months in a deep freezer.
  • Breastmilk may be stored in the refrigerator for five to eight days for healthy newborns.
  • After pumping, label and date all milk, and use the oldest milk first.
  • Frozen or refrigerated milk may be thawed and brought to room temperature by placing in a container of hot water. Never heat breastmilk in the microwave. It may destroy essential nutrients and can cause hot spots that may burn your infant. Always test milk temperature on the inside of your wrist before serving.

Breast Care

Some of the following may make nursing more comfortable:

  • Wear a support bra if you feel you need one; if not, it is not necessary.
  • Correct positioning and latch on are very important to prevent sore nipples.
  • Break the suction by placing your little finger in the baby's mouth prior to taking him or her off the breast.
  • After breastfeeding, express some colostrum or breastmilk and rub on nipples.
  • Then air dry for 10 minutes before putting on a bra, nursing pads, etc.
  • If nipples are sore, chapped, or cracked, apply colostrum or breastmilk as above. After air-drying for 10 minutes, you may gently apply a lanolin preparation made for use on nipples, or hydro gel pads.
  • Alternating the infant's position from feeding to feeding may prevent repeated pressure at any one point.
  • Do not use soap to wash the nipples or vitamin E ointment, as this could be toxic to the baby.
  • Do not wear moist nursing pads, pads with plastic liners or bras that are too tight.
  • If you are using a breast pump, be sure to follow proper pump instructions.  Improper use may cause sore nipples.

Engorgement is a normal change in the breasts that occurs three to five days postpartum in some women. The breasts become tender, swollen, hot, and hard; you may run a fever and have a headache. The best treatment is frequent feedings. Expressing or pumping a small amount of milk may help your baby latch on.

If your breasts are too swollen to pump or express, you may use cabbage leaves and ice packs prior to pumping. Cabbage leaves may be applied directly to your breasts, with ice packs placed on top if desired. Leave in place for 15 minutes and remove for 45 minutes. This cycle may be repeated to help relieve swelling. Nursing the baby should soften the breasts; you may pump after nursing to get further relief. Some women find a warm shower before nursing helps soften the breasts enough for the baby to latch on.

If you have questions, please contact the hospital lactation consultant at 910.667.5192.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center map
2131 S. 17th Street
Wilmington, NC 28401

Education for Pregnant
Women and New Mothers

 Breastfeeding Education


2131 S. 17th Street, Wilmington, NC 28401  |  910.343.7000