Congratulations on your pregnancy or the arrival of your new baby! How you choose to feed your baby – breastfeed, bottle feed or both – is an important decision. DHEC’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program promotes breastfeeding as the best way to feed your baby.
- Breastfeed for the Best Start
- A New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding in the Hospital
- 5 Steps to a Good Latch
- Breast Milk Expression and Storage
- How WIC Can Help
- Breastfeeding Educational Materials
Benefits of Breastfeeding:
For Your Baby:
- Protects against:
- Ear infections
- Diarrhea and other stomach issues
- Bone loss later in life
- Reduces risk of SIDS, diabetes and obesity
- Breast milk is all your baby needs for the first six months of life.
- Stronger bones and teeth
- Develops higher IQs and improves brain development
- Promotes lower blood pressure and cholesterol later in life.
- Reduces risk of:
- Cancer including breast and ovarian
- Postpartum depression
- Helps return uterus to its normal size
- Promotes weight loss (burns up to 500 calories per day!)
- Reduces healthcare costs because babies are healthier
- Develops a special bond between you and your baby
A New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding in the Hospital
Though you can’t guarantee your birth experience to be exactly the way you want it, planning ahead and letting your care givers, family and friends know your wants and needs can make the event more enjoyable and breastfeeding successful.
Usually, your stay in the hospital after giving birth is not a very long one. Plan to limit your visitors while in the hospital. By doing this, you will cut down on distractions and have plenty of time for breastfeeding. Your baby will be nursing every 2-3 hours. Too many visitors may overwhelm you and your baby during this special time of getting to know each other.
Tips to limit visitors:
- Ask them to call instead of visit or wait to visit once you and the baby are home.
- Tell them they may not be able to stay long if you need to breastfeed the baby soon after they arrive.
- Tell family and friends you will be allowing limited visitors or no visitors at all. You can give the hospital staff a list of people you will allow to visit or request no visitors. They will honor your request and help you keep visitors to a minimum.
Keep your baby in the same room with you at all times. This will help you learn your baby’s hunger cues. Feeding your baby at the first signs of hunger will calm him and let him know he is safe in this big new world.
Early hunger cues:
- Licks or smacks lips
- Opens and closes mouth
- Sucking on fingers or hand
If your baby has to leave the room for a bath, shots, blood test, or any other procedure, you can send your partner or another family member to calm him. You can ask if the procedures can be done in your room to decrease the number of times your baby is away from you.
Get an Early Breastfeeding Start
For the first hour or two after delivery, your baby will be alert and willing to breastfeed. Tell your care givers you want to breastfeed your baby within the first 30 minutes to an hour after he is born. If you have a c-section delivery, tell the staff you want to begin breastfeeding as soon as possible. If your baby has a hard time sucking or latching onto your breast, ask for help right away! The sooner you start breastfeeding the more successful you will be.
Avoid Bottles and Pacifiers
Bottles and pacifiers can keep you from having a good milk supply. They can also cause nipple confusion. Babies suck differently on a bottle or pacifier than at your breast. All of your baby’s suckling in the first few weeks should be at your breast.
Just one bottle of formula in the first month:
- Can reduce your breast milk supply
- Can start you on the path of weaning from the breast
- Lessens the protective effect of your breast milk on your baby
- Can increase your baby’s risk to having allergies and being sick.
Practice Skin to Skin Care
Skin to skin care is when you hold your baby dressed only in a diaper and cap against your bare skin. You can use a blanket to cover your baby’s back. Skin to skin should begin immediately after your baby is born and then done as often as possible while in the hospital. Skin to skin care is the best thing you can do for breastfeeding success. Some babies go into a very deep sleep about 2 hours after delivery and can be hard to wake for the first 24 hours. Skin to skin care will often wake a baby and encourage him to breastfeed.
See the Lactation Consultant
Even if you think breastfeeding is going well, you can still ask to see the Lactation Consultant. She can check and see how the baby is positioned and how well he is nursing. The right position and a good latch can prevent soreness and other breastfeeding problems. Plus it is a great time to ask what kind of support the hospital offers after you are discharged home.
If your baby is unable to breastfeed for any reason, it is important to begin pumping within 6 hours of delivery with a good electric breast pump. The lactation consultant can help you get the right kind of pump and help with using an electric breast pump.
Infant Feeding Plan
An infant feeding plan is a written plan of your wishes for feeding your baby. You will want to complete your plan with family and then give it to your doctors, nurses or hospital staff. You can even ask the hospital staff to attach the plan to your chart. Give the crib card to hospital staff and have them attach it to the baby’s crib. This is a great reminder that you want to exclusively breastfeed.
Learn About Breastfeeding
You can take prenatal and breastfeeding classes at your local hospital and WIC clinic. Ask for books, DVD’s, and other information on breastfeeding from the WIC breastfeeding coordinator, WIC peer counselor, lactation consultant or nutritionist. The more you know about breastfeeding the easier it will be because you will know what to expect.
Plan to Exclusively Breastfeed
Exclusive breastfeeding means your baby will get only your breast milk and nothing else. It is important to only breastfeed for the first 4-6 weeks so you can establish a good milk supply. Starting with a good milk supply will make it easier to keep your supply if you plan to return to work or school and need to pump or combine formula feeding with breastfeeding.
Remember, any amount of formula in the first month can decrease your milk supply.
Create a Support System
- Let your doctor know that you plan to breastfeed. Make sure he/she is supportive of breastfeeding.
- Help your family be supportive by sharing the books, DVD’s, and information you have on breastfeeding. This is important if you don’t have any family or friends that have ever breastfed. The more they learn about breastfeeding, the more comfortable they will be in helping you when the baby is here.
- Talk to family and friends about your plan to breastfeed and let them know how important it is to you and your baby to have their support.
- Ask to meet with a WIC peer counselor while you are pregnant. Peer counselors are WIC moms who breastfed their babies and who have been trained to help moms breastfeed. They can answer questions, offer comfort and encouragement to new moms.
Don’t get discouraged if you have trouble getting a good latch at first. Follow the steps and repeat if necessary. Keep in mind that breastfeeding should not be painful. If you still have trouble after a few tries, ask a lactation consultant, breastfeeding coordinator, peer counselor or your baby’s doctor for help. With a little practice, you and your little one will both be enjoying the benefits of breastfeeding.
Remember, breast is best!
Follow these five steps for a good latch:
- Find a comfortable position for you and your baby. You can use pillows or a breastfeeding pillow for extra support.
- Gently support your baby’s head and shoulders so he is facing you chest to chest.
- Use your nipple to tickle your baby’s upper lip until his mouth is open wide.
- Pull your baby onto your breast so that he takes the whole nipple and about 1 inch of your breast into his mouth. His lips should be turned outward.
- To remove your baby from the breast, gently insert your pinky finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the suction and remove him from your breast.
There are several ways to provide your baby with natural nutrition when you’re away or aren’t able to actively breastfeed.
The use of a breast pump is one convenient way to do this.
Choosing a breast pump can be confusing since there are many manual pumps on the market. If you need help choosing a pump, discuss with other mothers, a breastfeeding peer counselor or a lactation consultant. Once you buy a pump, be sure to read how to put it together and use it correctly.
Whether using an electric or manual pump, be sure to follow the tips below:
- Remember to always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before assembling your pump.
- Sit down in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Try to relax and think about your baby. Relaxing is an important part of being good at pumping. Listening to music or looking at a photo of your baby may help.
- A good time to start pumping is in the morning when your breasts are full of milk or after you have nursed the baby, when the milk is already flowing.
- Massage your breasts before and during pumping to encourage your milk to flow.
- For correct placement, the wide part of the pump (flange) should rest against the dark part of your breast (areola) with your nipple centered in the opening. Your nipple should not touch the side of the flange because it may rub, and this rubbing, when pumping, may cause soreness. If it rubs, talk to your breastfeeding counselor to get a different size flange.
- Wet the flange with water or breast milk for better suction.
- Set the pump at the lowest suction setting at first, and the slowest speed (for electric pumps). Then, increase in small increments as needed.
- After each use, take the breast pump kit apart. Every part that the milk has touched should be washed with hot, soapy water and rinsed well. If available, you can use a reusable microwave steam clean sterilizer bag to sterilize your pump parts. Be sure to allow all parts to air dry. Note: Boil the pump for 10 minutes or wash in a dishwasher at least once per day.
Electric Breast Pumping
Electric breast pumps are sometimes used by mothers after returning to work or school, or by mothers of premature babies who are not strong enough to nurse from the breast.
Tips for electric breast pumping:
- Single or double kits will work when using electric breast pumps; however, double pumping kits take less time and can increase the amount of milk expressed.
- If using a single pump, switch breasts a few times during pumping. The time it takes to empty both breasts varies in each woman, but it should not take more than 30 minutes. If using a double pump, it should take approximately half the time of the single pump.
Manual Breast Pumping
A manual breast pump can help some nursing mothers by supplying breast milk to give in a bottle if baby and mom will be apart. Manual breast pumps can also quickly relieve discomfort from very full breasts. It takes time to get good at pumping, so don’t expect large amounts of milk at first.
Following these tips can help make manual pumping a success.
- Try to copy your baby’s sucking rhythm with the pump. Practice with different rhythms to see which works best. Some women prefer a very steady rhythm, while others will pump, then stop a few seconds and then pump again.
Breast Milk Storage
Here are some tips you can use to store your milk:
- First, make sure the bottle or jar you use to collect your breast milk is clean. After every use, wash these items in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Once a day, place them in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes or run them through a dishwasher if they are dishwasher safe.
- Next, wash your hands before pumping or expressing your milk.
- Pump or express your milk into the clean bottle or jar.
- Store your milk in amounts of 2-4 ounces. Storing in small amounts prevents wasting your milk. Milk left over from a feeding cannot be reused and must be thrown out.
- Glass or hard plastic (BPA free) bottles are recommended for storage. If you use plastic bags, be sure they are designed for storing breast milk. Avoid using ordinary plastic storage bags or formula bottle bags. They can easily leak or spill.
- Keep the milk in the refrigerator if you plan to use it within 3 days.
- If you want to keep the milk longer, put it in the freezer. Place the milk in the back of the freezer, not the door.
- When freezing your milk, leave some room at the top of the bottle or jar. This prevents the milk from spilling over when it freezes.
- Do not add just collected warm milk to chilled or frozen milk. Cool the milk first in the refrigerator.
- Thaw your breast milk in a bowl of warm water or hold the bottle or jar under warm running tap water.
- Never use a microwave or stove to warm breast milk.
- Breast milk may separate during storage. That’s okay—it is not spoiled milk. Gently shake the milk.
- Use thawed milk within 24 hours. Do not refreeze thawed breast milk.
The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is a special supplemental nutrition program. WIC provides breastfeeding information, support and assistance; educational materials; and a positive clinic environment which endorses breastfeeding.
The new WIC food package has improved for breastfeeding moms and infants. Additions to moms’ package include: choice of one pound of whole wheat bread, tortillas or brown rice; cash value voucher for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables and canned tuna or salmon. Quantities depend on whether the mom is exclusively or partially breastfeeding. Breastfeeding infants’ package will now include jar baby fruits and vegetables at 6 months of age (and if exclusively breastfed, jar baby meats at 9 months of age).
To learn more about the WIC food packages for breastfeeding women and their babies, view these fliers:
- WIC Foods for Breastfeeding Mom and Baby (pdf)
- WIC Foods for Partial Breastfeeding Mom and Baby (pdf)
See WIC’s income eligibility guidelines to see if you qualify for WIC. If you meet these guidelines, you can apply for WIC using our simple four step process. You may also want to review how services are provided to better understand WIC services.
If you need assistance with breastfeeding or have general WIC questions, please contact your local public health department and ask for a breastfeeding coordinator.
To receive a copy of the materials below, complete a Materials Library Order Form – DHEC-0520 (pdf). Fax the form to (803) 898-3476.
ML-025296 – Breastfeed for the Best Start (pdf)
ML-025317 – Breastfeed for the Best Start, Spanish (pdf)
ML-009137 – A New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding in the Hospital (pdf)
ML-025438 – 5 Steps to a Good Latch, English/Spanish (pdf)
ML-009107 – Breast Milk Expression and Storage (pdf)
ML-009113 – Breast Milk Expression and Storage, Spanish (pdf)
ML-025505 – Do Not Disturb Door Hanger (pdf)
You can print a copy of the materials below from the links provided.
DHEC-1233 – Infant Feeding Plan - A Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding in the Hospital (pdf)
DHEC-1234 – I’m Breastfeeding crib card (pdf)