How soon after birth should I start breastfeeding?

It is best for both mothers and infants to start attempting to breastfeed as soon as possible after birth. However, due to factors surrounding the birth -- as in the case of a C-section, when the mother must recover from surgery, and vaginal deliveries with complications that require extra care for either mother or baby -- breastfeeding is sometimes delayed by several hours. It's recommended that you start breastfeeding as soon as you and baby are stable.
If you are even considering breastfeeding, you need to start immediately - you can always stop, but once you dry up in 7 to 10 days after birth, there's no going back.
YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

More About this Book

YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

Can I get a cavity filled while pregnant? Will avoiding spicy foods make my kid a picky eater? Can I really increase my baby's IQ while she's in utero? Whether you're pregnant for the first time,...
Dr. Margit S. Lister, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)
You are usually in your postpartum room the first hour after child birth and are usually there for one to two hours. One of the most important things that you can do within the first hour is breast-feed. That is the ideal time. The babies go into a quiet sleep state after about one hour. Your ideal time to actually teach them something on how to latch on and everything similar is within the first hour of birth. Getting the baby latched on, and learning how to nurse is so critically important within the first hour of life. Say to your family, "Hey, the baby is not going to change in the next 15 to 20 minutes. Give me an opportunity to breast-feed and bond with my child." It will be easier for you to breast-feed for the remainder of the postpartum period.
Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Immediately. In the first hour after birth most babies are wide awake and making smacking sounds with their lips. They are looking for that first taste of mother's milk. If a newborn is held and the mother's breast gently touches the newborn's cheek, the baby will open its mouth seeking out the breast nipple. Majority of babies quickly latch onto the breast during this immediate post birth period. 

Continue Learning about Breastfeeding A Baby

The After-Birth Trick for Better Breastfeeding
The After-Birth Trick for Better Breastfeeding
When Mila Kunis, wife of Ashton Kutcher and star of Bad Moms, breastfed her now four-year-old Wyatt Isabelle in public, she had a straightforward answ...
Read More
Should I worry if my baby doesn't breastfeed much at first?
Intermountain HealthcareIntermountain Healthcare
It’s common for breastfeeding to start off slowly. At first, your baby may only want to nurse once...
More Answers
Can I have caffeine while breastfeeding?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
The short answer is yes. However, a small amount of the caffeine will enter the breast milk, which c...
More Answers
Is Breastfeeding Impossible After Breast Augmentation Surgery?
Is Breastfeeding Impossible After Breast Augmentation Surgery?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.