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Feeding Your Baby in the Hospital

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be fed breast milk exclusively for the first six months of their lives. At Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, we also believe that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your baby. Shortly after you give birth, hospital staff will show you how to breastfeed successfully without having to use formula to supplement your baby’s diet.

The 10-Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (4:46)

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Feeding On Demand
After a C-Section
After Labor Induction
Resources for When You Go Home
  • Feeding On Demand: 12-24 Hours After Birth

    • Feeding on demand means feeding baby as often and as long as they want.
    • Sometimes, baby will want to feed every hour or more, this is normal.
    • Feeding as often as baby desires also allows you to begin to increase your supply of breast milk.
    • Your baby will be eating colostrum during this time. It is a small amount but it is all your baby needs.
    • You will be taught hand expression which helps get your milk moving.
    • You will be very tired, turn to your support person and nurse for help.
    • Remember only you have the power to make the milk that baby needs.

  • Breastfeeding After a C-Section

    If you deliver your baby by C-Section, your healthcare team will take special care to ensure you and your baby are able to breastfeed successfully as listed below.

    • Skin-to-skin in the Operating Room: Soon after delivery, when you and your baby are considered stable, the baby will be placed skin to skin with you until your surgery is completed.
    • Skin-to-skin in the Recovery Room: After your C-section, you may be able to recover with your baby right away. If this happens, your healthcare team will place baby skin-to-skin on your chest above the surgical site. This allows baby to start breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth. If you recover in a separate area, you will see your baby within 2-3 hours. During this time, your support person can be with the baby.
    • Help with position and latch: Finding a comfortable position to breastfeed in can be more challenging after a C-section delivery. Your healthcare team will help you find breastfeeding positions that lead to a good latch while minimizing your discomfort.
    • Rooming-in: Unless your baby needs to be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), your baby will be in your room with you during your entire hospital stay. This ensures baby is close by for feeding times. If you need help, call your nurse to assist you.
    • Lactation Consult: If you are having a difficult time with breastfeeding, or you need assistance finding breastfeeding positions that are comfortable for you and baby, your healthcare team can contact a lactation consult to assist you.

  • Breastfeeding After Labor Induction

    If you deliver your baby after having your labor induced by medications, you and your baby may have some special challenges with breastfeeding. See below for more information on these challenges and how you and your healthcare team can work together to overcome them.

    • Sleepy baby: The medication give to you to induce labor can cause baby to be very sleepy after delivery. When baby is sleepy, he may be less likely to initiate breastfeeding. To help baby start breastfeeding within the first hour of life, your healthcare team will encourage skin-to-skin as soon as possible after delivery. If baby is too sleepy to feed, you can wake her up by gently rubbing the underside of her foot.
    • Swollen breasts: When labor is induced, you often receive IV fluids with the medication used to induce you. The fluids can cause your breasts to swell, making it difficult for baby to latch on. Your healthcare team will help you to get baby latched-on if this happens often with the assistance of a lactation consult.
    • More Weight Loss in the Baby: If you receive a large amount of IV fluids, often your baby will have more fluid in their system. After birth, they will urinate more to get rid of this extra fluid which will lead to more weight loss. Remember this can be normal for your baby.

  • Breastfeeding in the NICU

    Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby, even if your baby is transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after birth. In fact, the extra nutrients in breast milk can help protect your baby from getting sick while in the NICU and help prepare your baby to go home as soon as possible. Your healthcare team will let you know if you are able to feed baby from your breast, or if you will need to express breast milk to give to your baby through a spoon, cup, or syringe. Ask your healthcare team if you need supplies, such as a breast pump or breast milk collection containers, so that you are able to express milk successfully. Your nurse and lactation consultants are available to assist you if you need help expressing and storing your milk.

    T I P S:
    For establishing and maintaining an adequate milk supply while baby is in the NICU.
    • Express breast milk every two hours during the day and at least twice at night.
    • Hold baby skin-to-skin on your chest as much as possible.
    • Try feeding at the breast as much as possible once your healthcare team tells you it is okay.
    • Talk to a lactation consultant if you are concerned about your milk supply.

  • Resources for When You Go Home