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9 things to do in baby’s first 24 hours to boost breastfeeding success

These expert lactation tips can help boost milk supply and jumpstart the breastfeeding process.

increase breastfeeding success

Breast milk might actually be the eighth wonder of the world. It's unbelievable how awesome and powerful breast milk is.

But while breastfeeding is one of the most amazing things we can do for our babies, it doesn't always come naturally or easily at first. I tell you that not to worry you, but in the hopes that if you do have some challenges along the way, you know that it's not your fault! Breastfeeding can be tricky.

The good news is that there are ways to increase your chances of breastfeeding success, even within the first day of your baby's life.

To help breastfeeding get off to a good start, here are 9 tips for those first 24 hours of your baby's life.

1. Breastfeed within your baby's first hour of life.


Brand-new babies spend their first hour of life incredibly alert, and are often ready to start eating within about 20 to 45 minutes of being born. Doing so can help get breastfeeding off to a good start.

During this time, the baby will receive your colostrum (the earliest breastmilk), which is affectionately nicknamed “liquid gold" because of how many wonderful benefits it has for your baby.

Bonus: Every time your baby latches, the hormone oxytocin is released in your body. Oxytocin helps you fall in love with your baby, and it also helps your uterus stop bleeding and start to contract back down to its pre-pregnancy size. So doing this early on in your baby's life is beneficial for both of you. Well played, mother nature. Well played.

2. Start skin-to-skin early on.

Skin-to-skin (when you hold your naked baby against your bare chest) is not only intoxicatingly delicious, it's scientifically proven to help with increase your chances of breastfeeding success. It also helps regulate baby's temperature, heart rate, breathing patterns and even blood sugar level.

Ask for your baby to be placed on your chest immediately after birth when possible, and keep making time for skin-to-skin snuggles throughout their babyhood.

3. Let everyone on your team know how important breastfeeding is to you.

Having support from your significant other, family, friends and birthing team can be tremendously helpful in your breastfeeding journey.

So go ahead and let them know how much you want to breastfeed, and also give them ideas about how to help you: cooking or cleaning for you, facilitating lots of rest and baby snuggling, and just generally being your cheerleader are all really awesome ways to show they're on board. (For more ideas, here are 14 ways to really help a new mom.)

In The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama, Sharen Medrano, IBCLC, shares a reminder that it's okay to advocate for yourself. "Hopefully, your experience will be wonderful, but some women do end up feeling intimidated or without the energy to advocate for what they want. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions and tell your providers what matters to you."

4. Meet with a lactation consultant.

Lactation consultants and counselors are incredibly knowledgeable and can help you overcome many breastfeeding challenges.

Don't feel like you have to wait for a problem to call one. Go ahead and ask a lactation consultant to stop by (many hospitals and birth centers have them on staff) and ask, “Does this all look okay?" They may be able to share some pointers and make a few adjustments that will help enormously as you move forward.

5. Room-in with your baby.

Many hospitals are encouraging new parents to room share (keep their babies in their postpartum rooms) after birth as a way to increase your chances of breastfeeding success.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing for the baby's first six to 12 months of life.

One of the many reasons for this is to promote breastfeeding. When your little bundle is right next to you, you'll be able to respond to their hunger cues faster, and breastfeeding might be easier.

6. Ignore the clock.

This is a big one. We know life is little hectic when a baby arrives, and many moms find themselves craving a predictable schedule.

But research shows that nursing a newborn on demand (whenever they are hungry), as opposed to on a schedule, greatly increases your odds for successful breastfeeding.

Basically, babies are super smart (especially yours) and are good at letting us know when they need something. Breast milk is digested very quickly and their tummies are tiny (the size of a marble at birth), so they need to eat a lot in the beginning. And the more you breastfeed, the more milk your body will make.

The time will come soon when you can have a schedule in place.

For now: nurse, nurse, nurse (added perk: cuddle, cuddle, cuddle).

7. Avoid bottles for the first few days, if possible.

Medrano shares that "Babies are very smart and learn quickly that it's much easier to get milk from a bottle than a breast, which can lead to something called nipple confusion. Nipple confusion can lead to babies rejecting the breast and preferring the bottle."

She continues, "By waiting to add bottles for a bit, they'll learn to latch first. It's interesting to note that we have long counseled women that pacifiers can also create nipple confusion, and they may! Studies have found, though, that nipple confusion may be more of an issue with bottles than it is with pacifiers."

But sometimes formula or pumped milk are needed, and that's perfectly okay. Medrano says, "If the baby does need to be fed pumped milk or formula, know that there are other ways to feed a baby besides a bottle! Medicine cups, shot glasses, syringes and even spoons can be used to give milk to a baby. Just put the spoon (for example) right up to the baby's lips, offer slowly, and they'll start to eat. This will lead to a better transition to the breast when you move to nursing. Be sure to feed them slowly, though, giving small amounts at a time and allowing them to swallow completely before offering the next sip."

8. Take good care of yourself

You've done a great job taking care of yourself during your pregnancy. But just because the baby is now earth side doesn't mean your body's hard work is done—you are still growing a person with your breast milk!

Moms who exclusively breastfeed burn an extra 500 calories a day on average, which is equivalent to walking five miles a day.

It's vital to continue to treat your body like the amazing life-giving wonder that it is. Eat well (with lots of healthy snacks), stay hydrated, rest and be gentle to yourself.

Need some ideas? Here are 11 surprising + delicious breastfeeding snacks.

9. Commit to breastfeeding, but give yourself grace.

We said it, but it's worth repeating: Breastfeeding can be a little tricky in the beginning. It's like two people learning how to dance when neither person has ever danced before. But with practice (and support), most of the challenges can be overcome.

The other part, though, is to be gentle with yourself. Sometimes breastfeeding just doesn't work out. This doesn't make you "less than" in any way, shape or form. It is okay (great, actually) to take care of yourself—even if that means cutting breastfeeding out of the picture.

Here are a few of our favorite breastfeeding items to help you get breastfeeding off to a great start:

Double breast pump

double breast pump

Sleek on the outside and high-powered on the inside, the Luna pumps more milk in less time and is easy to use, with a quiet motor that won't wake baby. Massage and Expression Modes provide full control and maximum comfort. These modes simulate let-down by mimicking your baby's natural nursing pattern and expressing milk from the breast with high efficiency.

$260

Breastfeeding pillow

breastfeeding pillow

The unique L-shape design of our support pillow is made to hug all shapes and stages of recovery, with c-section moms in mind. No matter how your baby made their big debut, this breastfeeding pillow works as an effective positioner for you and your newborn. The cooling fabric keeps you and your infant more comfortable. The soft, 100% cotton slipcover is machine washable for easy cleanup when accidents happen.

$25

Healing balm

nipple balm

This healing wonder is a mama must-have. A nourishing and fragrance-free blend of just five organic oils—nothing more, nothing less— it works in harmony to address an array of skin issues (including raw nipples).

$20

'The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama'

motherly guide to becoming mama

Pregnancy isn't just about creating a baby. It's also about the powerful transformation we go through on the journey to becoming "mama." We created The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama to coach and inspire you each step of the way.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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