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The Breastfeeding Bible

Lunch at First Sight

So how does this special bond begin? The first time your baby comes to your breast is right after she is born¿ -- when she lies on your abdomen, skin-to-skin and covered with a warm towel. This is the perfect time for her to figure out what your breasts are for. When she's ready, she'll nuzzle at your breast and will probably lick and mouth your nipple. Soon, she'll begin to suck.

Both you and your baby will benefit from uninterrupted bonding after birth. Studies have shown that in unmedicated deliveries in which mothers and babies are not separated, infants placed on their mothers make crawling motions toward the breast and often find it with minimal help. This is a time to simply relax and enjoy one another; there's no need to practice everything you learned in your breastfeeding class right away. Some newborns take a few licks and a few sucks, pause, and then resume a few more gentle licks and sucks. In fact, sucking in frequent bursts with pauses in between is not uncommon for many newborns for the first few days.

This first feeding is important for several reasons. Sucking is familiar and comforting for babies¿ -- as many suck on their thumb or hand in the womb -- and helps Baby adjust to her new environment and feel a sense of connection to you. In addition, you will produce a wonderful substance called colostrum that your newborn drinks during the first two or three days. Colostrum is like a "supermilk" that's rich in infection-fighting proteins. The more frequently and efficiently Baby sucks, the more colostrum she'll get, and the sooner your mature milk will come in.

After nursing, your newborn will probably drift off into a deep sleep for several hours. You may still be ecstatic from bringing a new life into the world, but it's good for you to yield to the need for sleep, too. As you doze off, imagine the pleasant experience of your baby nursing at your breasts. Filling your mind with positive images of breastfeeding will help get your milk flowing.