Start breastfeeding as soon as you can after your baby is born.
Most full term babies can begin nursing immediately after birth. This may be difficult depending on how your labor and delivery went, but your baby has a natural instinct to suckle so the sooner the better—ideally within one hour of birth. You may need to ask for some time to breastfeed before they take the baby for the newborn exam and with a normal birth, this should be granted.
C-Section mothers should try to nurse their babies in the recovery room, if possible. The first attempts may be more comfortable if mother and baby lie on their sides, facing each other. When you can sit up, use the football hold to relieve pressure on your abdomen. Use two pillows, at your side and across your abdomen.
Studies show that the more you breastfeed your baby on the first day the fewer problems you'll have later with such things as engorgement in your breasts and jaundice in the baby.
Tell the hospital staff you want to nurse and request no bottles or pacifiers be given to your baby.
Hospitals can vary greatly with their support, or lack of support, for breastfeeding. Many nurses will give a newborn an unnecessary bottle of water or a pacifier, which can hinder your nursing efforts. If possible, have your baby "room in" with you so you can get used to reading her hunger signals and spend some uninterrupted time bonding. Do not be afraid to request that no bottles or pacifiers are given to your baby and ask that your baby be brought to you for every feeding and especially if she is fussing or seems to be giving off hunger cues. You can ask to have a sign put on the baby's crib stating that this is a breastfeeding baby and no bottles or pacifiers are to be given. Once your milk supply is established and a good sucking pattern is consistently present, you can introduce bottles and pacifiers if needed. Waiting at least four weeks to get this routine established is a good basic rule.
Ask for Help.
Knowing what to expect and getting help right from the start is key to successful breastfeeding. Ask to speak with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant or breastfeeding educator while you are in the hospital. If no one is available, find one in your area. Identify someone who you can call should you need some advice or support, especially in the early weeks. Create a breastfeeding support network at home (friends, family, blogs etc).
The first weeks of breastfeeding are a learning period for both you and your baby. Anytime you start any new routine it is important to give it time to become established. Do not expect to work as a coordinated team right away. Give yourself time to recover from labor and birth. With practice you will feel more confident in breastfeeding and nurturing your baby. Most difficulties will resolve themselves within the first month so, take a deep breath…and relax!