So here are some tips from a midwife of almost 2 decades to satisfy baby's hunger through breastfeeding.
1. Make sure your care providers know you want to breastfeed your baby and keep your baby with you immediately after birth. Most babies do not need suctioning and they definitely don't need a warmer. Unless medically indicated (baby passed motions in the amniotic fluid), avoid the suction. It's not practiced routinely in the UK since 20 years and is rather a rude introduction to the world. YOU are the warmer. Your skin cleverly adjusts its temperature so your baby's temperature is perfect (even in a cold air con delivery room) Cover baby with a blanket, preferably from home.
2. Do plenty of skin to skin care. That means baby has a nappy on and has no clothes. Mom has a button/zip open top and baby and mom are skin to skin. Take off your baby's hat when s/he is in your arms. The smell of your un-bathed baby's head stimulates the hormones in your brain to speed up milk production.
3. Don't have your baby bathed in the hospital. The natural oils and vernix from your baby are good for her/him. A bath can make a baby cold, and then baby has to go to the warmer. The more time apart, feeds are missed, and heat loss can cause weight loss.
4. Do more skin to skin. When you are awake, do skin to skin. Dad can do it too. It's a great way for you both to bond. In mom's arms, frequent nursing will get you off to a really good start with your milk supply. The more the baby sucks, the more milk you produce.
5. Feed your baby as soon as s/he is ready after birth. Google 'breastcrawl India' on you tube and do the same. It's very simple. Most babies will do this, given a chance. Babies medicated from an epidural or cesarean will need a little help and guidance.
6. Avoid top feeds of formula. Most babies do not need it. If your baby feeds from your colostrum immediately within an hour (or two) after birth, that's a great start. You don't need to keep waking baby up and getting on a schedule right away. Your baby needs a rest after birth too.
7. Keep baby close to you. Nurseries are rightfully banned in most countries. There is little use for them. Mother and baby rest much better in the same room. Feeding on demand will help your milk supply to build at your baby's needs. Babies take a few weeks to adjust into their own pattern. Sleep when your baby sleeps if you can, limit your visitors, do plenty of skin to skin and feed baby as often as s/he wants.
8. Breastmilk digests easily and quickly. This means that your baby may pass motions just after a feed and want more again pretty soon. This is normal. You have enough milk. That's the biggest truth you need to hold on to.
9. Do what's right for you. You do not need to time and record all your feeds and there are no rules for switching sides etc.Be comfortable. Try to keep up your own intake of fluids to a minimum of 3 litres a day and more if you can manage up to 5 litres!
10. Have resources to hand. I will provide some here. Have at least two numbers of a lactation consultant who you can call or request a visit in the early days. Believe in yourself. Just as you grew your baby and birthed your baby - you CAN feed your baby.
11. Giving formula feeds to a baby expands their stomach. It takes longer to digest and feels rather like we feel after eating one too many plates of food and extra three chapatis. That's why babies sleep a long time after formula feeds. It's tempting! But in the long run it's not beneficial. A baby's stomach when born is the size of your small finger nail. Your small amounts of colostrum (that you may or may not be able to see) is enough for your baby. If your baby is very sleepy express out some colostrum and give it via a clean spoon. Once you start giving top up feeds, it becomes very confusing as what to give and when. When a baby has a top feed, it means no sucking at the breast for approx 4 hours = 2 missed feeds = affects moms milk supply. Giving formula feeds is extremely common place in hospital and convenient for everyone. Baby will be quiet, sleeps well etc. but is this the best for your baby?
12. There will be many visitors and everyone will have some of their best advice for you. Sadly, many people will question your milk supply. Be strong. Believe in yourself. Follow your baby's cues. Ask for help and support when you need it and remember the truth - you will have enough for you baby.
13. If you choose and elective caesarean, or if you require one due to circumstances firmly and kindly insist a nurse assists you to breastfeed asap. Some hospitals allow the baby to remain in the OT and feed within half an hour. If you can also do skin to skin (with assistance) this is not only a delightful way to meet and bond with your baby, it will help with spontaneous feeding, and microbiome inoculation (healthy bacterias). You will need more support, but you can breastfeed immediately and often as your baby needs with help.
14. Aim to feed your baby 8-12 times a day (roughly every 2-3 hours) Your baby will usually have a longer period of sleep once per day, hopefully at night.