If everything is normal after the birth, the mother should breastfeed her baby right away (Figure 5.12). She may need some help getting started. The first milk to come from the breast is yellowish and is called colostrum. Some women think that colostrum is bad for the baby and do not breastfeed in the first day after the birth. But colostrum is very important! It is full of protein and helps to protect the baby from infections.
- Breastfeeding makes the uterus contract. This helps the placenta come out, and it may help prevent heavy bleeding.
- Breastfeeding helps the baby to clear fluid from his nose and mouth and breathe more easily.
- Breastfeeding is a good way for the mother and baby to begin to know each other.
- Breastfeeding comforts the baby.
- Breastfeeding can help the mother relax and feel good about her new baby.
If the baby does not seem able to breastfeed, see if it has a lot of mucus in his or her nose. To help the mucus drain, lay the baby across the mother's chest with its head lower than its body. Stroke the baby's back from the waist up to the shoulders. After draining the mucus, help the mother to put the baby to the breast again. You will learn a lot more about breastfeeding in the next Module in this curriculum on Postnatal Care.