"Congratulations on the new baby! Will you be breastfeeding?"
"Yes, I want to. I'm just waiting for the milk to fill up. Waiting for it to get hard"
This was the conversation between my father and somebody who just gave birth. Since I started breastfeeding, I have become a strong BF advocate. Not just because I do it, but because so many people can't/don't BF purely because of the lack of information. I'm speaking from a Malaysian point of view.
Take that conversation for example. This lady has already failed to BF her first child and was keen to try on this second one.
1) Milk doesn't need to fill up, its already there. Colostrum has been produced in the mothers body from the last few months of pregnancy.
2) If she waited until 'it got hard', she would have engorgement. A very painful condition caused when milk is not drained from the breast. It will also make it harder for the baby to latch on when she finally puts the baby to the breast.
Here are a few pointers that I have. They are based on my own experience and also my reading. I am not a health care provider and it is not my intention to provide medical advice.
Feed as soon as possible after birth
Breastfeed your baby with the first hour after birth. The baby has a natural instinct to suckle at this time and it supposedly will help you get off to a good start in terms of BF.
Ensure correct latch
Ensure that your baby is latched on correctly with the lower lip pursed out. Baby's nose should be within a credit card's thickness to the mom's breast. Baby's noses are specially designed to BF and they will not suffocate. If there is any pain at all, unlatch the bub and start again. To unlatch the baby, don't just pull off. Stick your little finger into the baby's mouth to break suction before pulling away.
Feed on demand
Do not be surprised if the baby feed VERY frequently. Their stomachs are only the size of a golf ball so of course they get hungry quickly. Feed on demand by watching for hunger cues (such as putting fists to mouth) including through the night. Those mothers with confinement ladies often do not look after the baby during nights but it is essential to keep feeding to build milk supply.
Wait 6 weeks to give a bottle
Make sure that the baby does not get milk from a bottle for at least 6 weeks. Inform hospital staff of this and also the confinement lady.
Be confident that you are providing enough
Measure baby's intake by the number of wet nappies and not by how much you get out with a pump or the duration of your feeds. Expect one wet diaper on day one, increasing to 5-6 by one week. Many new mothers are concerned that their new babies are not getting enough. This is rarely the case if a baby is fed on demand.
Finally, be relaxed and confident. It does wonders for milk supply and for getting through feeds.