Prepare to breastfeed before your baby is born. Before you give birth is a good time to start thinking about whether you prefer to breastfeed or bottlefeed your newborn. If you decide to breastfeed, inform your doctor and the hospital staff -- they can give you information about breastfeeding and can often set you up with a lactation specialist who can coach you until you feel comfortable.
Start nursing right away. If you're able, try breastfeeding your baby within the first hour or so after he is born. This is a good opportunity to establish your breastfeeding pattern while your newborn is alert. Babies who are nursed within the first hour of birth are more likely to become successful breastfeeders, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Breastfeed about every two hours. Nurse your baby when she lets you know she's hungry -- generally, between every 1 1/2 to 3 hours. Crying is a late sign of hunger, so try to interpret your baby's earlier cues and feed her before she cries. Some common signs that your baby is hungry: Looking alert, putting her hands near her mouth, making sucking motions, whimpering, flexing arms and hands, and nuzzling against your breast.
Hold off on the pacifier. Introducing a pacifier or bottle can interfere with your baby latching on to your breast, so hold off until his breastfeeding routine is going well and your milk supply is well established (usually three to four weeks after delivery).
Encourage your baby to latch on by stroking her cheek or lower lip. This will stimulate her to open her mouth and latch on. (Stroke the cheek that is nearest your breast, and she will turn toward the breast.) To determine if she has latched on correctly, make sure your areola and nipple are both in her mouth and positioned above her tongue, and check that her lower lip hasn't been drawn into her mouth.
Make yourself comfortable. Encourage your breast milk to "let down" by finding a quiet spot to nurse. Sit in a comfortable chair and try listening to some soothing music.