You may have been planning to breastfeed your baby since the day you got pregnant. You may only have been planning since your delivery classes. However, for a whole variety of reasons, many women find they cannot breastfeed in the first few days following delivery. Some babies are simply resistant to breastfeeding. Others cannot get the hang of sucking. Some can latch on but cannot stay on. Still others can suck, but cannot get a good latch. In any case, the baby will have to be given something in the interim, whether it is a bottle with expressed colostrum, a feeding syringe, or a bottle with formula. Getting your baby to go back to nursing can be a real challenge.
If breastfeeding does not work within the first few hours of birth, you need to begin expressing colostrums immediately. You may be comfortable hand expressing colostrum. If, however, this doesn’t work for you, you need to consider using a pump. Remember that your body will actually make very little colostrum. Even the smallest amount should be saved and given to the baby as soon as possible, via any method. Until the baby can learn to nurse, it is important to express your colostrum (or later on your milk) on a regular basis. The baby needs it, and your body needs to understand that there is a demand for the milk production. Moreover, regular expression will keep you from becoming engorged. Engorgement can not only be painful for you, it can make it more difficult for the baby to learn how to nurse. Try, if at all possible, to avoid giving the baby an artificial nipple (like a bottle or a pacifier) during this trying time. It is important for the baby to get the nutrition, but giving him an artificial nipple can only mean more setbacks for you.
If your baby won’t nurse, you might try one of the following. Start a nursing session when your baby is very sleepy. This can help to stimulate your baby’s natural sucking pattern. You might also try to vary your nursing positions. There are many babies who will not nurse in one position, but are happy to try it in another. The cradle hold is the most common position, but you might also try something like the cross-cradle hold, the clutch hold, or the side-lying position to stimulate nursing during those first few tough sessions.
You might also try to nurse while moving. Walk around your kitchen as you nurse. It may help to stimulate the baby. Another thing you can try is to nurse away from distractions in a quiet, dark place. This might help to simulate the conditions of the womb and allow your baby to feel warm and safe, hence stimulating their natural processes. You could also try some skin to skin contact as well. Babies like to feel your warm soft skin. It can help them adjust to your scent. You should try undressing from the waist up and leaving you baby in only a diaper during a nursing session. Outside of nursing sessions, try just laying next to your baby without your shirt. Finally, try sleeping with your baby next to you. It can give you more opportunities to get the hang of nursing.