Preparing to Breastfeed: What a Lactation Counselor Wants You to Know

Breastfeeding is much like a “dance” between mom and baby

Both have to do their part—and each has to practice to triumph. The first few days of new motherhood are a whirlwind, but keep in mind that patience and repetition can help. If breastfeeding is your goal, the following are very important first steps to take just after delivery.

Kangaroo care

Right after delivery, cuddling a naked baby directly to his or her mother’s skin (preferably near the breasts) is very important. Newborns have a heightened sense of smell and use this to seek mom’s nipple. It is also proven to have other medical benefits.

An early latch

Even if baby is sleepy, try to get him or her to latch as early as possible—optimally within the first two hours.

Room in

Use the time in the hospital to get to know your baby’s feeding and diapering needs, as well as hunger cues. If baby stays in the nursery rather than in your room, nursing opportunities are often missed.


New motherhood isn’t exactly restful, but after delivery baby is often very sleepy. Use this time to rest and prepare for regular feedings.

Avoid extras

Avoid giving baby anything (pacifier, formula) other than the breast unless medically indicated. Babies are born to breastfeed and do not need anything else.

Work together

Partners can do everything except breastfeed the baby. We recommend they take care of mom, so she can focus on baby.

Lactation help

Most hospitals offer on-site lactation counseling and lactation stores, where you can get postnatal counseling, nursing bra fittings and more. If you are early in your pregnancy and your hospital does not offer these services, I would consider delivering elsewhere.