Rhonda Patt

Ask the Pediatrician: New Moms and Breastfeeding

Q. I am pregnant with my first baby and due in September. So many of my friends have had difficulties with breastfeeding. What breastfeeding advice do you have for a new mom?

A. As an expectant mother, you have likely already experienced the phenomenon of getting unsolicited advice from everyone you know- and even from complete strangers. When you add internet searches, books and magazines to the mix, the available information is often a bit daunting and overwhelming. From the beginning, it is important to know that every mother-baby experience is different; therefore, what worked for one mom may not be the same as what works for the next. For this reason, my number one piece of advice for new moms is to listen to the experts, your baby and your own body as you navigate through the first few weeks.

That being said, here are a few key breastfeeding tips for new moms:

Feed Early and Feed Often

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding within one hour of birth so that your baby receives colostrum (early milk) that contains nutrient-rich colostrum.

Newborns should be breastfed frequently- every two to three hours. This may mean having to wake a sleepy baby. Frequent feedings will help protect your baby from excessive weight loss and low blood sugar.

Be Prepared for Complications

Hopefully, you will have a magical fairytale birth fit for royalty; however, most birth stories contain at least one unexpected twist.

Common complications for a mother could be excessive blood loss or need for a C-section. Babies, on the other hand, may have jaundice or prematurity- as examples.

Although most complications (including the ones listed above) are typically minor and temporary, they can make breastfeeding more difficult.

Plan to Use Your Breast Pump if…

You hit any bumps in the road such as

Your baby is sleepy and is not a strong feeder

Your baby loses too much weight and needs bottle supplement

You have had any previous breast surgery

For any reason you are unable to breastfeed every 2 hours during the first few days post-partum

Find a Pediatrician Who Promotes Breastfeeding

As a final note, new moms and babies need rest and privacy. Keep visitors to a minimum during the first few weeks.

Dr. Rhonda Patt is a pediatrician with Charlotte Pediatric Clinic and past president of the Charlotte Pediatric Society. Dr. Patt answers questions from local parents in her weekly "Ask the Doctor" blog. If you’ve got a question you’d like answered please email Dr. Patt at: living@charlotteobserver.com and put “pediatrician” in the subject line.