During my perinatal nursing rotation, we watched a video called, “Breastfeeding Best Practices.” This video was geared for nurses to assist with teaching about breastfeeding, and I thought it would be great to highlight the key concepts I learned.
Evidenced-based tip: Studies show that babies who have immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth and access to the breast within the first hour of life have better outcomes and longer feeds when breastfeeding.
Skin-to-skin is a term used to explain the method of placing the newborn directly on the mother’s chest, with skin-to-skin contact. The heat of the skins touching will warm the baby better than having clothes on, but note that after contact baby should be clothed to prevent heat loss. This skin-to-skin method is also linked to an increase in oxytocin levels (mother’s hormone that stimulates breast milk ejection). An increase in oxytocin will help ease the let down process of milk, and also increases uterine tone after birth, which is a definite bonus!
Don’t worry if baby is a little slower to begin to feed. Keeping the baby skin-to-skin while he is sleeping will help wake the baby and initiate feeding cues when ready. Also, some mothers are worried that the general anesthesia received during a cesarean might delay the initiation of breastfeeding, or make the mother’s milk unsafe for baby. This is not the case, and mothers may begin breastfeeding as soon as they are awake and ready.
It is important to be looking out for the newborn’s feeding cues, this will help mother’s know that baby is hungry and ready to feed. Sometimes the baby will turn his head toward the chest, begin to pucker his lips, start to open his eyes, move around a lot, and stick his tongue out. This is generally known as the “quiet alert state”, and is usually the most effective time to initiate feeding. If these cues are ignored, the baby may begin to cry or get frustrated and feedings may be a little more challenging.