Getting started with breastfeeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months, that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby mutually desire. Medical research has given us many good reasons to breastfeed. It has a positive impact on the baby’s health and benefits for the mother.

Your baby should breastfeed within an hour of being born and then any time he seems hungry or awake. Babies don’t have a set feeding schedule for the first two weeks. Be patient while learning and expect that your baby won’t be predictable at first. It is normal for your baby to sleep and not seem to eat much on the first day. He will act hungrier and eat more often on the second and third days. Your baby should breastfeed as often and for as long as he wants during the first two weeks. This is called “baby-led feeding.”

The Magic Hour

Breastfeed as early as possible. We recommend that you hold your baby immediately after birth and place your baby skin-to-skin on your chest. The first hour after birth – called the Magic Hour – ideally is reserved for the infant and parent to get to know each other. During this early skin-to-skin time, the closeness helps your baby regulate his or her temperature along with heart and breathing rates, and stimulates digestion and feeding behavior in your baby. It’s also very calming for both mom and baby.

mom and newborn baby

Breastfeeding Helpline

455-BABY (2229)

Breastfeeding classes

In-person and online options available.

Breastfeeding support group

Every Thursday, noon-3 p.m.,
St. Michael’s Lutheran Church
2619 Augusta St., Greenville

Led by: International Board-certified Lactation Consultants from Prisma Health


  • Breastfeeding expectations
  • Breastfeeding patterns
  • Breastfeeding in the “real world”
  • Returning to employment/school
  • Maintaining an adequate milk supply
  • Involving dad, other family members and child care providers
  • Sleep patterns/realistic expectations
  • Nursing the older baby (6 months and older)
  • Introduction of solids and continuing breastfeeding
  • Safe storage and handling of expressed breastmilk
  • Other suggested topics

Additional information

• Babies are welcome
• Wear comfortable attire
• Enjoy light refreshments
• Use baby scale for weight checks
• Drop in and out as needed (informal format accommodates you)

This is a free event, and no registration is necessary. Questions? Call 864-455-BABY (2229).
For assistance with breastfeeding, an outpatient visit at the hospital can be arranged.

Mothers not breastfeeding have higher rates of …

  • Postpartum depression
  • Postpartum bleeding
  • Difficulty in losing weight after childbirth
  • Need for more pain medication
  • Osteoporosis and arthritis
  • Heart disease and diabetes
  • Breast and ovarian cancer

Babies not breast-fed have higher rates of …

  • Food allergies and asthma
  • Constipation and gas
  • Acute gastroenteritis
  • Diabetes and obesity
  • Respiratory infections
  • Chronic diseases
  • Death from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)


For baby …

  • Breastfed infants tend to be healthier than non-breastfed babies. Babies breastfed for one year are half as likely to have any illness and are less likely to be hospitalized for any bacterial infection. They can be four times less likely to have diarrheal diseases. They have a decreased risk for ear infections and a decrease in risk for lower respiratory infections.
  • Breastfed infants are at a reduced risk for developing insulin-dependent diabetes.
  • There are fewer incidences of childhood cancers with breastfed babies.
  • Breastmilk provides your baby with all the nutrients needed in the right amounts. It is easy to digest and gentle on your baby’s stomach.
  • Breastfed babies rarely are constipated.
  • Breastfed infants and children have a significantly reduced rate of food allergies. They often are protected from asthma and allergies because of immunologic properties of breastmilk.
  • Breastfeeding has been shown to contribute to lower incidence of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

For mom …

  • Breastfeeding helps to quickly reduce the uterus to its normal size and also helps to prevent excessive bleeding following birth.
  • Breastfeeding contributes to lower incidence of uterine, ovarian and breast cancer.
  • Breastfeeding relaxes mom. The hormone that produces milk has a relaxing effect on mom while the infant is at her breast, and the baby loves the closeness.
  • Breastfeeding decreases blood pressure.
  • Breastfeeding will increase the effect of pain medication.
  • Breastfeeding will help mom lose the weight she gained during pregnancy. It burns about 400 calories each day.

For the family …

  • Breastmilk is always ready. There is nothing to buy, carry, heat or measure.
  • Nighttime feedings are easier when you breastfeed. You do not have to sterilize bottles, warm formula, etc.
  • Because breastfed babies generally are sick less often, working parents may miss fewer days on the job because of infant illness.
  • Breastfed babies smell good. Their stools do not smell bad, and they do not spit up often. When they do spit up, it does not have a strong smell and will not stain clothes.
  • Breastfeeding is cost effective: 1) You won’t need to buy bottles, nipples or formula. In the first year, formula can cost $2,000, or more if the infant is allergic to certain formulas. 2) You will likely have fewer sick visits to the baby’s doctor.
  • Breastfeeding is environmentally friendly. There is less use of natural resources (e.g., electricity for heat) and fewer cans in landfills.


Cradle: The mother’s back is supported; her shoulders are level. Her forearm supports the baby’s back; her open hand supports the baby’s bottom. The hand opposite the nursing breast supports the breast so that the mother can observe latch-on. The baby’s chest/abdomen directly faces the mother’s. If helpful, the mother can use a pillow in her lap to bring the baby to breast level.

Cross Cradle: The infant is in the same position as the cradle hold, but the mother uses the opposite arm to hold and support the baby at the breast. The mother uses the hand of the same side being nursed to support the breast. (This position is good for low birth-weight babies.)

Side Lying: The mother is lying on her side and places the baby on his or her side facing the breast. If needed, the mother may use her lower arm or a rolled blanket to keep the baby positioned at her lower breast.

Football: The infant is tucked under the arm of the breast being used with the feet toward the mother’s back. Use a pillow behind the mother’s back to leave room for the baby’s feet. Place a pillow under the baby at the mother’s side to bring the baby to breast level.

Latch techniques

While in the hospital, you might hear your nurse or lactation consultant talk about a latch score. This score is a way your caregivers can assess how well the baby is breastfeeding.

Latch-on is the actual attachment of the baby’s lips and mouth to the mother’s breast. A correct latch-on ensures that the baby is getting enough milk and prevents excessive nipple soreness.

Signs of a successful latch-on:

  • There is tugging, maybe some tenderness, but no sensation of pain.
  • After the first few seconds, the baby does not easily fall away from your breast.
  • No clicking sounds are heard as the baby suckles.
  • A minimum of 1-1 ½ inches of areola is within the infant’s mouth.
  • The infant’s tongue is positioned between the lower gum and your breast.
  • The baby’s lips are widely flanged around the breast, creating a seal.
  • While suckling, the infant’s cheeks are full and rounded (not dimpled).
  • Movement is observed at the back of the jaw and above the infant’s ear. The earlobes may wiggle.
  • Swallowing is heard. During the colostrum stage of milk, swallowing may be heard at least every few suckles. After milk volume increases (in 3-5 days), the infant should be swallowing as often as every 1-2 suckles.
  • When removing your baby from the breast, insert your finger between the baby’s gums and your breast to break the seal. Removing your baby without breaking the seal may irritate the nipples.

Caring for your breasts

Your nipples may feel sensitive or tender as you get started, but breastfeeding should not be painful. Your breasts start making milk (colostrum) while you are pregnant so you have just the right amounts for your newborn baby—and that is amazing.

Babies normally will lose weight the first few days after birth and are usually back to their birth weight within two weeks. Your baby has a small stomach at first, and you will feed at least eight to 12 times every 24 hours for the first few weeks.

Keeping track of how often he eats and the amount of wet and dirty diapers will help you know if he is getting enough to eat.

We encourage you to wait to introduce bottles and pacifiers until breastfeeding is well established. We recommend approximately one month.

Frequency of Feeding When Establishing Milk Supply

Your milk supply is based on supply and demand. When you feed (or hand express or use a breast pump) regularly, your body will continue to produce breast milk. If you do not feed (or hand express or use a breast pump) regularly, then your body will not continue to produce the amount of milk your baby needs. For help in hand expressing, watch an informational video at

Feed your infant based on the information your pediatrician and nurses give you. It’s an amazing thing that your body produces the amount of milk your infant needs—and your that milk is constantly changing to meet the needs of your baby.

Risks of Formula Supplementation

In some cases, it is medically necessary to supplement (give your infant milk substitute instead of breast milk). Your pediatrician and nurses will discuss this situation with you if applicable. However, in many circumstances, your baby will not need anything other than your breast milk. Our goal is to educate you on breastfeeding and its benefits as well as the risk of using a supplement so that you can make an educated decision for you and your family.

Mothers sometimes worry because their babies want to breastfeed more than they expected at first and wonder if their baby is getting enough milk. Early, frequent feeding helps your body establish your milk supply. Most mothers make plenty of milk for their infant without the need to supplement with formula. If breastfeeding, mothers should do so exclusively for the first six months because breast milk is all that infants need during that time. In fact, supplementing with unnecessary formula or foods can cause problems such as …

An interference with mom’s milk supply, meaning she may not make enough milk for her baby if she supplements with formula or food.

  • Early on, the mother’s breast may become uncomfortably engorged (see below).
  • An increased risk for your baby to develop allergies, diabetes or obesity.
  • Even one feeding with artificial milk can cause problems

Breastfeeding Mothers

  • While nipple tenderness is normal, breastfeeding should be comfortable (not painful) for you. Call your lactation consultant if pain is present.
  • Clean breasts by letting water run over them in the shower. Do not use soap or lotion on breasts.
  • Hydrogel pads and Lansinoh cream may be used on sore nipples.
  • Allow breasts to be exposed to the air whenever possible.
  • Use specially designed breast pads or a large handkerchief in your bra to prevent leakage through to your clothes.


  • Frequent feeding is the best way to avoid engorgement.
  • An engorged breast will tighten the nipple, making it difficult for your baby to get enough of the nipple in the mouth.
  • Apply warm compresses to the breast before the feeding.
  • If the nipple is very tight, expressing milk for a few minutes before breastfeeding will soften your nipple.
  • Cold packs after and in-between feedings may be necessary.

Lactation consultants

At Prisma Health, we have specially trained and certified lactation consultants who can see you during your stay. Lactation consultants are available daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with some extended coverage into evening hours. In addition to our lactation consultants, all OB/GYN nurses have received extra breastfeeding training to help our patients.

A lactation consultant is a healthcare professional who has …

  • Highly specialized, advanced training in breastfeeding management
  • Many years of professional, clinical experience working with mothers and babies
  • Undergone rigorous training and testing to become certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners

A lactation consultant can perform the following services:

  • Provide mothers with the latest information on breastfeeding management
  • Evaluate breastfeeding problems and offer practical solutions
  • Teach techniques to make breastfeeding comfortable and successful
  • Offer help with latch-on, positioning, proper use of breast pumps and other aspects of breastfeeding
  • Give special assistance to mothers with premature babies, multiples or special-needs babies and help mothers who are returning to work

Our comprehensive lactation program supports breastfeeding mothers both during their hospital stay and after they go home. A certified lactation consultant likely will see you in the hospital before you are discharged.

After you go home, the Breastfeeding Helpline, 864-455-BABY (2229), is available to help you with questions or concerns, including questions about renting or purchasing a breast pump. A lactation consultant will return your
call. These consultants also offer outpatient consults by appointment.

Breast pumps are available for rent or purchase at Greenville Memorial Hospital. In addition, other breastfeeding supplies are available for purchase, such as nursing bras and camisoles.

Hand expression

Hand expression is a useful skill when you need to empty your breasts (such as when you are separated from your baby or your baby is temporarily unable to breastfeed). In the first few days after birth, hand expression can be more effective at removing colostrum than using a breast pump. If your baby needs a supplement in the first few days, use hand expression to provide the milk he or she needs.

The hand expression routine is simple but takes practice and patience.

  • Wash your hands. Relax and think about your baby.
  • Use warm, wet washcloths on your breasts. Then, gently massage each breast in a circular motion using the flat part of your fingers.
  • Make a “C” or a “U” with your fingers about an inch back from the edge of the areola (dark part of the breast). Press your hand inward toward your chest, not out toward the nipple. Compress the breast (not the nipple) with the soft pads of your thumb and fingers. Continue to press backward and avoid sliding your fingers down toward the nipple.
  • Relax the pressure and start over again.

Change the position of your thumb and fingers on your breast. Rotate your hand position. This step will help stimulate milk from many of the ducts in your breast. After 10-20 compressions on the first breast, switch to the other breast. Continue switching back and forth between breasts until the flow of milk slows.

For additional help, watch Dr. Jane Morton’s video.