How many of you started dreaming about breastfeeding your baby as soon as you found out you were pregnant (or even before that)? Most women dream about breastfeeding their baby, and many even go to the extent of not bothering buying a feeding bottle before the delivery. But, not all new mothers end up being successful in breastfeeding. Most moms (and their new babies), to their surprise, have a tough time with the process. In fact, it can be so difficult that some moms even tend to give up.
Well, you don’t have to give up. We have some useful breastfeeding tips to get you started.
Why Should You Breastfeed?
The benefits of breastfeeding are something almost all women are aware of. However, if you are struggling with the same and in need of some confidence boost, here is a quick reminder of how breastfeeding benefits both your baby and you:
- Breast milk is a wonderful source of nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and immunity boosters, all of which together make up for a well-balanced diet that your newborn needs.
- The presence of antibodies in breast milk help protect infants against various infections.
- Exclusive breastfeeding helps protect your little one from different illnesses, right from pneumonia to various other diseases.
- It helps with the baby’s neurological development.
- It is known to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from diabetes, asthma, and allergies.
- For new moms, breastfeeding helps your uterus get back to its original size, which in turn helps you lose your postpartum weight faster.
- Breastfeeding also helps delay your periods to some extent.
- Breastfeeding moms face lower risks suffering from breast cancer, heart diseases, ovarian cancer, and high blood pressure.
- Above all, breastfeeding helps you develop a special bond with your newborn.
If you wish for your breastfeeding process to be less stressful and tough, you need to prepare for it right from your pregnant days.
Start Preparing Early
As mentioned, you shouldn’t wait until you deliver your baby to learn about breastfeeding. Start preparing early. Read a lot of books on the topic from experts; this will help familiarize yourself about the process, what to expect, and other aspects of the same.
Care for Yourself
As soon as you get pregnant, start following a proper, healthy diet, according to your doctor’s suggestion, as this will help keep yourself and the baby inside you well-nourished. Taking care of yourself during pregnancy, which includes staying relaxed, positive, and happy, does a great deal in the development of your baby, preventing premature birth. This is important because premature babies usually have a difficult time breastfeeding.
Consult Your Doctor
Let your doctor know that you plan to exclusively breastfeed your baby and ask for their advice and for resources to learn about breastfeeding and the techniques involved. Many hospitals have in-house lactation experts to help pregnant women or new moms.
Breastfeeding Class from an IBCLC Expert
Another great way to practice for breastfeeding your baby is to attend a breastfeeding class conducted by an expert with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certification. These are experts who know to deal with even the most complex breastfeeding issues and therefore you will be able to benefit a lot for these classes. While this has to be done when you are pregnant, you can also contact the expert postpartum in case of need.
Purchase all the items necessary for breastfeeding beforehand. These are inclusive of nursing bras, nursing clothing, nursing covers, breast pump, nursing pillow, etc.
Starting to Breastfeed
It is recommended that you breastfeed your newborn within the first hour after birth; therefore, start breastfeeding your bundle of joy right from the time you get to hold him/her for the first time. It is natural for your body to produce only a small amount of milk at first; this secretion is called colostrum and does the job of protecting your infant from infections. This small amount will be sufficient for your baby initially, since his/her stomach is only tiny at the time. Eventually, you will start producing more milk to feed your child more.
At the hospital, ask to keep your baby in your room, with you, and have skin-to-skin contact as much as possible. This is an excellent practice for good breastfeeding. Also, this will help you understand your infant’s hunger signals easily.
Good Latch is Crucial
Achieving a deep latch is extremely important for successful breastfeeding. A deep latch refers to when your baby has the whole of your areola in his/her mouth. This not only helps the baby get fed better, but also makes the process painless for you, preventing cracked, sore nipples. When your baby is breastfeeding, you should be able to hear low swallowing sounds and not smacking sounds. Turn the whole body of your baby toward you; he/she shouldn’t have to strain or turn their head for nursing.
Avoid Bottles and Pacifiers
With a newborn, since you will be just starting out with the breastfeeding process, it is important that you avoid the use of pacifiers. Also, one mistake that many new moms tend to do is use a bottle to feed the baby more, after breastfeeding, if he/she still seems hungry. This is a big NO, because it not only causes nipple confusion in your newborn, but also hinders the improvement of your breast milk supply.
Newborn Feeding Patterns
When it comes to feeding patterns, not all newborns have the same routine. While some babies get full and content after nursing for just 30 minutes, some may take a couple hours for the same. On the other hand, there are also babies that cluster feed. Cluster feeders are babies that are known to nurse back-to-back during some time of the day, usually in the evening. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t producing enough milk and hence your baby isn’t full; this is just a way for your newborn to increase the production of your breast milk gradually. Just remember that all of these feeding patterns are normal in newborns, and all you need to do is learn your infant’s pattern.
Knowing Your Baby is Full
Being able to recognize your baby is full and satisfied is another important step with breastfeeding. Here are some signs to look for:
- Your little one looks or acts content after he/she is fed.
- He/she has enough dirty diapers in a day.
- He/she feeds up to at least 8 times in a day.
- He/she gains weight properly and consistently.
Again, if you are not sure about this, you can always consult your lactation expert.
Remember, you are nourishing a little human; therefore, it is vital that you stay nourished yourself. Your diet doesn’t have to be perfect; just be sure to eat when you are hungry and drink lots of fluids whenever you feel thirsty. Even when feeding your baby, have some snacks and drinks nearby.
Breastfeeding requires a lot of practice and patience. Though it is a natural process, you and your baby need time to learn it completely in order to be successful. Do not give up! Just hang in there, you will be successful.