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Natural Awakenings South Central Pennsylvania

Breastfeeding Right After Birth

Apr 30, 2024 09:31AM ● By Leslie Cree

photo credit: pexels-monica-turlui-15855198    

Birth signals the end of pregnancy and the beginning of a new mother/child relationship. When a newborn is placed skin-to-skin on the mother’s chest, nine documented stages take place–Birth Cry, Relaxation, Awakening, Activity, Rest, Crawling, Familiarization, Suckling (the first breastfeeding) and Sleep.


According to The Magical Hour video, “The first hours after birth are a developmentally distinct time for a baby, and there are well-documented short- and long-term physical and psychological advantages when a baby is held skin-to-skin during this time.”


Skin-to-skin contact colonizes the baby with bacteria to “introduce” them to their new environment, the colostrum the baby consumes supports their immune system, and the infant’s suckling releases the hormone oxytocin to help the mother recover from birth by contracting her uterus. Oxytocin surges every time a baby breastfeeds and promotes bonding.


According to UNICEF, “Whether delivery takes place in a hut in a rural village or a hospital in a major city, putting newborns to the breast within the first hour after birth gives them the best chance to survive, thrive and develop to their full potential.”


According to The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, “Mothers are also uncertain about what to expect with breastfeeding and how to actually carry it out. Even though breastfeeding is often described as natural, it is also an art that has to be learned by both the mother and the newborn. Skills in how to hold and position a baby at the breast, how to achieve an effective latch and other breastfeeding techniques may need to be taught. Not surprisingly, some women expect breastfeeding to be easy, but then find themselves faced with challenges.”


Getting help early is vital to meeting breastfeeding goals. International board-certified lactation consultants (IBCLC) identify clinical concerns for mother and baby, assess feeding dynamics and provide individualized care plans in a variety of settings. A prenatal appointment identifies unique needs and provides additional education to complement information presented in a breastfeeding class. After a baby’s birth, lactation consultants help parents navigate concerns such as engorgement, latching, positioning, how to tell the baby is getting enough milk, balancing feeding, sleeping and recovery.


According to the website, “Health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding. These services may be provided before and after birth.” Lactation consultants in private practice see families in their own home or virtually.


Leslie Cree, BA, IBCLC, is an experienced lactation consultant and the owner of NursieSides Lactation Support, located in Mechanicsburg. Contact her at 717-514-7850 or [email protected]. Visit