While breastfeeding seems like the most natural thing for a mother to do, for a large number of women, it doesn't come easily. In fact, no matter how much you have read and practised, the ultimate test is having your bundle of joy fed. Here's how to make it work from the start.
First rule of thumb is to be patient. You have never breastfed before, and this is the first time your newborn is eating. So before you get frustrated, be aware that this important new job often takes some getting used to. It will be tough at first, but with patience, knowledge, and support, you and your little one will get the hang of it, trust me. The best part? Your baby will thrive on your milk and the cuddly closeness that breastfeeding offers.
"Breastmilk production is encouraged by putting the baby to the breast immediately after birth and thereafter by feeding the baby on demand," shared Professor Robert Gray of paediatric centre Kidz Klinik. Before leaving the hospital, it is recommended that you feed your baby in the presence of a nurse or lactation consultant. Gray continued: "Breastfeeding is the foundation of good nutrition. It is very important that the baby latches on properly - placement of at least three quarters of the areola, which is the dark area around the nipple, in the baby's mouth."
Though a newborn knows instinctively how to suck, getting them to latch on properly will come with some level of difficulty. The nipple may slip out of baby's mouth, he may not know what to do with it, or he may be too tired and overwhelmed from the birth process.
Don't get discouraged if it doesn't happen right away, several hours or even for the whole day, your baby won't starve. He/she is born with extra energy to get through this phase.
The right hold
There's more than one way to nurse a baby, but the best way is the one that is most comfortable for both mother and child.
According to Parent.com. the following three ways are what most paediatricians recommend:
The Cradle Hold
Lay baby lengthwise across your abdomen, using one hand to support his head and the other his bottom.
The Football Hold
Place baby beside you face up and lengthwise. Lay him along your arm and guide his head to your breast. If you've had a C-section, you may find this hold more comfortable.
Lay baby next to you in bed, with you on your right side, he on his left. His mouth should be at the same height or slightly lower than your nipples. With your free hand, adjust baby's mouth toward the nipple closest to the bed and circle your other arm around him.
Breastfeeding pillows or carefully folded blankets and towels can also help you prop your baby in a comfortable position.
Stay on schedule
Every time you feed your baby, which could be as often as every two hours, help him/her figure out where 'food' is coming from, by rubbing his cheek with your nipple or finger to get him to turn toward the breast. The stimulation of his sucking will help your milk to flow. Don't be startled if he/she sucks for just five minutes or as long as 45. Once the baby has worked out that you're the source of milk and coordinates his latch, suck, and swallow, he'll likely nurse for 20 to 40 minutes on each breast. If he's been on one breast for too long, it's fine to break his latch and switch him to the other.
A few days after giving birth, you will experience engorgement. This is when your breasts may feel like they're full of rocks, or that they're about to burst. Have no fear, your hungry baby can really help you out. The best way to relieve engorged breast is to nurse often. Drink a large glass of water every time you nurse, eat well, and continue to take your prenatal vitamins.
According to Gray, breast milk contains all the nutrients that are necessary for normal growth and development - protein, carbohydrate, fat, minerals, and vitamins in the right proportions, whenever required and at body temperature.
Breast milk also contains substances - immunoglobulins, enzymes, hormones - that protect the baby against infection. Breast milk, therefore, has the advantages of being readily available and low cost. Breastfeeding also promotes bonding between the baby and the mother.
The questions most mother's ask and often get really concerned about - whether baby is getting enough to eat is answered with the following indications: If you hear and see your baby swallowing, he's drinking. And if he's filling plenty of diapers with urine and soft, yellow stool, at least eight times a day, he's getting enough nourishment.
However, you should call your paediatrician if your baby exhibits the following signs:
- Your baby stops feeding after 10 minutes or less.
- Your baby is frequently fussy and lethargic.
- Your baby's skin is yellowing.
- Your baby's stool is hard and dark.
Additional information was sourced from parents.com.