Good for you for wanting to breastfeeding! To help you out, here’s a list of the top 10 tips you should know.
1) Breastfeeding is a learned art
While it is natural, there is a lot of learning involved for both you and your baby. Be patient with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions of your lactation consultant or nurse. You and your baby will soon become experts!
2) Supply = Demand
Breastfeeding is the perfect supply/demand system – the more your baby demands, the more milk your body supplies! This is why you don’t need to worry if you’ll produce enough for a baby who is large at birth, or even twins!
3) Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt!
Most women experience some nipple tenderness with a newborn’s frequent nursing – this goes away in a few days as your body gets used to the frequent latching. However, you should NOT experience intense or prolonged pain during a feeding. See the lactation consultant (at your hospital or hire one to make a home visit) to check if the baby has an improper latch as this is usually the cause of nipple soreness.
4) Variety is the spice of life!
Use a variety of positions to feed your baby, particularly in the early days – this will help to empty the breast effectively and will help to decrease the early nipple sensitivity you may experience. Unlike most pillows on the market, your Cozy Cuddles Nursing Pillow will support you in many positions including cradle hold, football (clutch) hold, and the laid back (reclining) position.
5) Use both breasts at each feeding
For most women (particularly first-time mothers) it works best to offer both breasts at each feeding. When the baby’s swallowing slows down at the first breast, try burping the baby to remove any trapped air, and then offering the second breast. The baby may not feed as long at the second breast. A tip is to put a safety pin on your bra on the side the baby finishes on to remind you to offer that breast first at the next feeding. This will ensure that both breasts are equally stimulated to make milk.
6) If in doubt, try food!
When your newborn cries, it’s a good strategy to offer food first. Breastmilk is very quickly and easily digested, and newborn’s stomach capacity is tiny – about the size of a chick pea! – so they need to feed as frequently as every hour and a half at first.
7) Time is irrelevant!
Rather than timing how long your baby is at the breast, notice what he/she is doing. Can you see and hear swallowing? A well-latched baby’s sucking will produce jaw movements right back to their ears, and you can hear the sound of swallowing. If the baby is sleeping at the breast, he/she is not feeding! To waken a sleepy baby, remove all their clothing except the diaper to promote skin-to-skin contact.
8) A good latch it the key!
Nearly every breastfeeding problem can be traced back to an improper latch. Nipple soreness is an obvious problem, but poor milk supply is also caused by an improper latch. When a baby latches poorly, the breast is not emptied well, and the body responds by decreasing production. See your lactation consultant for help.
9) Looks can be deceiving!
Breastmilk looks different from cow’s milk – milk that has been pumped into a bottle has the appearance of skim milk, and the cream often rises to the top. This is normal human milk, and it is PERFECT for your baby! Also, don’t assume that the milk you get from a breast pump is all you have – a baby gets far more from a feeding than you are able to pump out. This is particularly true in the early weeks. Unless your lactation consultant has suggested otherwise, there is no need to pump in the first 4-6 weeks – just breastfeed!
10) Enjoy the time!
Sometimes pregnant women worry about breastfeeding being too time-consuming. This is actually a myth, as formula preparation and bottle sterilization are far more time consuming (to say nothing of the increased expense!) Enjoy the precious time you spend breastfeeding your baby. It’s more than a food-tranfer process – it’s a delightful time of relating to and bonding with your baby. Before you know it, they’ll be off to Kindergarten and you will NEVER find yourself saying, “I wish I hadn’t spent so much time with my child!”