All new mothers are told the benefits of breastfeeding their babies, and there is no denying that it does make babies stronger and healthier. But sometimes the baby just won’t latch on, or new mothers feel intense pain when breastfeeding, that could make it a very unpleasant experience. However, breastfeeding should be the ultimate bonding experience between mother and baby, if you know how to do it right.
One of the most important things any new mother can do is ask someone else for help. In this modern day and age, we tend to rely very heavily on what we read, both in print and online, and though all of the information may be laid out before you online, a baby and a breast are both unpredictable things. So instead of relying on what you have read, ask for help from a professional. The nurses in the hospital will be able to teach you about breastfeeding and guide you the first time you do it. Some hospitals even have a lactation consultant who can guide you through everything to do with breastfeeding.
Even they will tell you that one of the best ways to get your baby to latch is by ensuring you are comfortable. So, get a few pillows or find a comfortable chair, make sure the room is warm and the lighting is low so that you feel very relaxed, and then cradle your baby’s head close to your breast. Don’t try to force your nipple into baby’s mouth. Even if you are in a hurry to see your child eat, know that babies need to set their own pace.
Many experts will tell you to avoid a pacifier in the first few weeks, because your baby will want something to suck on and if they replace the pacifier with the breast, breastfeeding will get a whole lot more difficult. The best way to introduce breastfeeding, is to get your baby to your breast as soon as possible after their birth, so that they become familiar with the breast.
Tip 1: The Best Position
No matter where you choose to breastfeed, you need to ensure that it is the best place for baby and the best place for you. As such, make sure you always have enough back support. When you are comfortable and supported, your baby will feel it. Next, make sure that your baby’s neck and shoulders are well supported with his knees, belly and face facing you. Make sure that your nipple is in reach of his or her mouth because in most cases, the baby will go to the breast and not the other way around.
Some positions you may want to try include lying in bed on your side with baby supported in your arms. You could also try a position where the baby’s head is resting in the crook of your elbow, or tuck the baby under your arm with its feet towards the back. This is a very comfortable and secure position.
Whichever position you eventually decide on, make sure that you and baby are both comfortable and will be comfortable for a few hours. Some babies do take a long time to feed, so don’t set yourself up for back pain.
Tip 2: Limit Your Visitors
There is no doubt that once you have had your baby, visitors will stream in all dying to get a look at your precious bundle of joy. However, too many visitors will reduce the amount of feeding time you have and will disrupt your feeding environment. Because it is more important for baby to eat, than it is for visitors to see him or her, you need to limit your visitors.
You may also find that you and your baby learn to sleep to the same rhythms, thus when it is time to feed, baby will let you know. However, if there are visitors in the house, baby may be woken from sleep, or you may not be able to respond to his or her cries for milk right away. Ideally, you want to get to your baby before they reach the crying stage, and you will notice that babies do wake up slowly, and not necessarily with a cry.
A baby who has been crying for a long time may even refuse to latch, which is why so many mothers are encouraged to sleep right next to their babies. Breastfeeding should be a warm and relaxing process, not a tiring and stressful procedure.
Tip 3: Let Baby Eat When Hungry
To survive, you need to eat three meals a day and have snacks in between. Baby, however, knows when he or she is hungry and thus, when it is time for breastfeeding. Don’t be surprised if you have to feed up to 12 times a day. Your milk will flow according to what your baby needs and though you may be tired and they may be tired, be sure to give them enough to eat. If baby is sleeping at feeding time, wake them. Sure, they may be tired, but if they don’t eat they will be cranky and unhappy, and may not take the breast the next time it is offered.
Make sure you let baby feed for as long as they need to. Some newborns will be done in ten minutes, while others may take up to an hour to finish. Though it may tire you out, make sure your baby gets the milk they need. If they are already crying and screaming when you come to feed them, calm them down with some rocking and singing before you put them to the breast. A calm baby will feed better than an unhappy one. Some mothers will even let baby suck their fingers until they are calm, and then begin the feeding.
Tip 4: Enter The Night
Night time feeding is very hard to get used to in the first few weeks. Because baby was constantly being fed when you were pregnant, he or she is now used to the routine of eating day and night. Many doctors recommend that you don’t sleep with the baby at your side, but rather set up a bassinet next to your bed, or keep baby in a separate room with a comfortable chair.
To stay awake, you may tempted to drink sugary drinks, or eat foods with a high sugar content. Don’t do this, and definitely don’t get a cup of coffee. Remember that whatever you take in gets passed on to your baby so if you ingest anything too high in sugar, your baby will be taking in that unhealthy sugar too.
Late at night when baby cries for the third time, you may be tempted to use a bottle, rather than getting up to feed baby breast milk, but resist that temptation. Bottle feeding will not only change your baby’s perception of breastfeeding, but also your own body’s. If you start to bottle feed, your body will produce less milk and this will make it harder to breastfeed in the next session.
Tip 5: Dealing With Problems
One of the most important weapons a new parent has in their arsenal is patience. However, despite it being so important, actually being patient is very difficult. When you’ve had very little sleep and baby is fussy and won’t latch, you may feel ready to give up. However, problems do occur, sometimes in baby’s health, sometimes in your own and sometimes just in baby’s attitude to the breast.
You may find yourself dealing with issues of nipple confusion, cracked and sore nipples, baby feeding for too long or not enough, but don’t worry. Remember that every baby is different and though you may worry that your baby is not getting enough to eat, remember that each baby is an individual. To deal with these issues, try some of the following methods:
- Take care of your own health – eat lots of fruit and vegetables and drink a lot of water. Make sure you are getting enough iron and calcium, because these will all be passed on to your baby. You will also find that the healthier your body is, the better you will feel and the easier breastfeeding will seem, so make sure you get lots of rest too.
- The problem of nipple confusion is very common in babies and occurs when the baby does not know the mother’s nipple from that on a bottle. This is why it is best not to bottle feed for the first two weeks.
- Strange feeding schedule – if the baby takes too long to feed, or seems to be done too quickly, remember that you do not have to worry as much about baby’s feeding patterns as you do about their growth patterns. So if the baby is still putting on weight like they are supposed to, then your feeding schedule is alright. If baby is not eating right and is not putting on weight, consult your doctor or a specialist for help.
- Sore breasts and nipples are common when you breastfeed, especially if you do it frequently throughout the day, so when you can, use lanolin oil or one of the many nipple creams available on the market to soothe the burn. If this continues, check with a lactation specialist on the placement of baby’s mouth. You may be able to avoid cracked nipples by simply placing baby in a new position.
Being a new mother or father can be scary, but for those who choose to breastfeed, having a baby can see like an endless ordeal. The most important thing to remember when you have had a baby is that you are not alone. Though you may feel as though you are the only person going through this, know that women for centuries have been trying to find methods to breastfeeding, and you are lucky enough to live in an age when people know more about it than ever before.
Breastfeeding can be a magical process which allows you time to get to know your baby, for baby to bond with you and for you to monitor your baby’s health and growth. All of the tips mentioned above will go a long way to ensuring your baby’s health, both physical and emotional, but the best tip you could possibly get is to keep a journal of activity.
If you write down your baby’s feeding habits, how much they eat and their weight, you can track how well they’re doing. This will give you an added peace of mind since you will have one less thing to worry about. It also ensures you have something to give your baby’s doctor when they ask how the baby has been eating and will help you work out their patterns, their likes and their dislikes.
Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to ensure your baby’s health and though you may be worried about everything that could go wrong know that help is always at hand. Whether you need to ask your doctor, a nurse or a lactation specialist for help, you can get the guidance you need quickly, ensuring that you and baby are taken care of all through the breastfeeding process.