Congratulations on your bundle of joy! It is a great idea to start breastfeeding. Not all mothers can commit to breastfeeding for various, valid reasons and that is okay, too. However, if you want to breastfeed your baby, there are several things you should know ahead of time. That way, you can have the best experience possible while on this journey. Check out these ten breastfeeding hints for a healthy start.
It Will Hurt, But Only For a Little Bit
Breastfeeding is rewarding but challenging. For the first several weeks it will be painful as your nipples become sore and cracked. When you take a shower, the water itself may even hurt because your nipples are so raw. After the first month or so, the pain will subside as breastfeeding becomes more comfortable for both you and your baby. Even though sore nipples are basically inevitable, achieving the right latch is essential, which will reduce soreness. Because your baby’s mouth is so tiny at first, this causes an awkward latch that can be painful. However, this is temporary; the more your baby breastfeeds, the easier it will be for him or her to latch on properly. The lower part of your breast and areola should go into the baby’s mouth. That way, your nipple will touch the high palate of his or her mouth and simulate sucking.
Practice With Different Nursing Positions
There are a few different ways to cradle your baby while breastfeeding. Finding the most comfortable position will help your baby get the right latch, which will make the entire session more pleasant for both you and your little one. The football hold involves having your baby’s feet tucked in near your armpit. The cradle hold is a traditional holding position while the cross-cradle is very similar, but using the opposite arm to hold your baby. You can also breastfeed in a lying down position. You can practice these different techniques even while you are still in the hospital. That way, a nurse can guide you through the positions to ensure you are doing them right.
Understand Babies Eat a Lot
Do not be surprised if you are up every couple hours (even during the night) to feed your baby. After all, newborns have a small stomach, about the size of an egg. Although breast milk provides essential nutrients, babies will be hungry often. It is also important to note that breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis. The more your little one wants to eat, the more milk your body will produce. During a growth spurt, your son or daughter might go from feeding every couple hours to every few minutes. Also known as cluster feedings, they are completely normal. It has nothing to do with your baby getting enough milk. Try to remember that your bundle of joy may undergo a growth spurt for two or three days around the one, three, and six-week mark and again when your baby is three, four, six, or nine months old.
Try Not to Worry About Your Milk Supply
It is common for new mothers to worry about their milk supply. Your body will produce colostrum while you are still pregnant. Some refer to it as liquid-gold because of the yellowish color and the fact that colostrum is packed with nutrients and antibodies. Sometimes, your nipples will leak colostrum before the baby is born. It will also be all your baby needs for the first few days of life. Women only have a small supply of colostrum, but it is highly nutritious. If you are only able to breastfeed for a few days, it is better than nothing. Your full milk supply will come in about two to three days after giving birth, but it can take up to six days for some mothers. Another concern you may have about milk supply is whether or not your little one is getting enough to eat. Even though you understand babies eat a lot, you cannot physically see how much your bundle of joy is actually eating. Try not to get worried about your milk supply. As long as your baby has five or six wet diapers or more, every day then he or she is getting enough food.
Use Breastfeeding Products
You will discover a plethora of breastfeeding products available. You might not need all of them, but some will become your new best friend as a breastfeeding mother. There are several types of nesting pillows that are ideal for achieving a comfortable position for both you and your baby. Nursing pads are also available, which are perfect for breastfeeding mothers who might have a leak on the go. Nipple cream is another breastfeeding product that you will love. You will use it to soothe sore or cracked nipples during the first several weeks of breastfeeding. It will not only make you feel better, but it will give you the courage to keep breastfeeding for the long haul.
Invest in a Good Pump
There are several different types of breast pumps, many of which are covered by insurance plans. However, if you are serious about breast pumping, then you should get an electronic one with dual pumps. You will want to pump both breasts equally, so doing them simultaneously will save you time. It’s good to know that pumping is not always a reflection of what your baby eats. You can pump for 20 minutes and only get an ounce on each side. Other times you might accumulate four ounces each in a matter of a few minutes. Pumping is helpful for women who want to breastfeed their children but have a scheduling conflict at work or some other restriction. If you pump milk, you can store it in the freezer and refrigerator; that way, while you are at work or away from your baby, he or she can still enjoy your healthy breast milk. It may be difficult for you to find a good time to pump at first. However, lactation consultants recommend doing each breast at least once a day. After a little practice, you will get into a routine.
Try Different Baby Bottles
Some mothers only feed their babies directly from the breast. However, this may not always be possible for you depending on your situation. You will have to experiment with bottles to find the right type of milk flow and nipple shape or size. You should avoid using a bottle for about the first month because your baby can become familiar with your breast and learn to latch. However, that might also make your baby reject any other artificial nipple including a bottle or pacifier. Try your best to find a balance because eventually your son or daughter will use a baby bottle or sippy cup regardless of how picky he is or she is at first.
Get Enough to Eat and Drink
Even though breastfeeding will help you lose that extra pregnancy weight quickly, it will also drain you of all of your nutrients. Your baby will get all the good stuff so that you might feel hungry, weak, or even a little woozy after nursing for a few weeks. Make sure you are consuming enough healthy calories because these extra calories will help your milk supply increase and stay steady. However, make sure you are not just eating a bunch of junk. Whatever goes in your body will also go in your baby’s system, so fruits and veggies are at the top of the grocery list. Besides eating enough food, you will also have to consume more liquids. Water is ideal, so make sure you have plenty around whenever you breastfeed or pump. It takes an assortment of water to make breast milk, but after a while, your body will regulate itself and figure out how much it actually needs. Then, you might be able to cut back on guzzling down so much water. However, you might want to warn your spouse that you might wake him up for some water during a midnight feeding session.
Talk to a Lactation Consultant
A lactation consultant can be your key to a successful breastfeeding experience. They are trained professionals who know just about everything when it comes to latching, breastfeeding positions, and products. It does cost money to hire a lactation consultant, but for a hundred dollars or so, you can learn more breastfeeding tips with a specialized educator who is right there to show you the way. Compared to the price of formula, this small investment is well worth it. You should actually search for a lactation consultant before your baby is born. That way, in the middle of a frustrating feed, you will already remember the tips and tricks you learned instead of trying to find a phone number for help while you are already upset and ready to give up.
Breastfeeding in Public
Although this seems controversial for some, it may be necessary for you and your baby. Depending on your level of comfort, you might want to nurse with a cover or in a designated, private space. However, if this is not an option, you should never feel embarrassed or ashamed to feed your child. Even if people are wrongfully shaming you for breastfeeding in public, remind yourself that you are doing what you feel is best for you and your baby. If you have a support team whether it is your family or online groups, you will feel more confident breastfeeding your baby. You are not alone in your thoughts and feelings about breastfeeding in public.