I have heard that some babies are eager and latch on right away while others are more tired after labor and just want to "snuggle" at first for a few hours.
How long after birth (say a fairly normal vaginal birth) could you nurse?
The World Health Organization's Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which recognizes and certifies hospitals that have bfing-friendly practices and procedures, requires that mothers and babies be given the opportunity to nurse within no more than 30 minutes of birth.
After a natural unmedicated birth, most babies are very alert, even if they don't stay that way. Babies are given many instincts immediately following the birth that will drive them to the breast.
My own experience after a cesarean birth was that my midwife brought my DD to me as soon as I was in the recovery room. We let DD try to find the breast on her own, but we eventually brought her to the breast and helped her out.
My daughter was taken from me for a couple of hours after the birth, but as soon as I got her again she nursed right away and it all went quite well. I was so lucky. We never had any latch or other problems in the beginning.
It took DD a coupls of days, a nipple shield, and cranio-sacral therapy. But my labor was relatively long--30+ hours--due to malpositioning. Apparently latch problems and tiredness are quite common in posterior/asynclitic babies.
It was hours for us. I suffered from a drug overdose (make sure your weight is correct when going in for pain killer!) which affected DD just as much. she didn't latch and actually eat until close to 12 hours after she was born. She attempted to altch before then but would fall asleep almost instantly.
We tried a few minutes after she was born, but she couldn't latch. She was having issues with her breathing and had been in distress, so the ped made the call that she needed to be transfered to the nicu for o2 and monitoring. I didn't get her to nurse until about 12 hours or so after her birth.
I don't remember precisely, but definitely within 5-15 minutes. She was born (natural, birth center birth), they placed her on my tummy, toweled her off a little, we babygazed for a few minutes, and then my doula helped me get her latched on.
My baby was taken for "observation" and stayed in the nursery for 4 hours after my cesarean birth (which was total overkill, and they did not do a thing except "watch" him, but don't get me started)! Anyway, when we got him back, he did go right to breast, but his latch was not quite right and within a day I had blisters. He got jaundiced and just missed having to go under the lights. It took us a week or so to get straightened out. I suspect if he had been able to breastfeed in that first hour, we would not have had those problems.
After ds1's high-intervention, drugged-to-all-heck hospital birth he miraculously nursed for about 20 minutes immediately after he came out. We had problems for a while after that, and it took a full six weeks to really get breastfeeding going. After ds2's drug-free homebirth, he nursed immediately for about an hour, then crashed for the next six hours
I was reading an article that said that after birth, if baby is placed on mom's abdomen, within 30 minutes they will have crawled their way up to the breast and latch on! I think that is amazing! Mother nature really knew what she was doing when she made us