Breastfeeding forges a special bond between the mother and the baby. It is known to improve immunity and has lots of other benefits for both the baby and the mom. It is the best gift you can give your newborn. World Health Organization too recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and then continuing to nurse along with solids beyond the six-month mark.
However, as new moms often find to their distress, breastfeeding does not come as easily to them as they had imagined. Sore, extremely painful nipples, low milk supply, engorged breasts, and the stress of being a new mom, all take their toll and new moms often give up on breastfeeding and then end up feeling guilty and helpless. Often, it takes up to 72 hours for the milk supply to stabilize according to the needs of the baby. Hence, for smooth and easy breastfeeding, the first 72 hours are crucial.
Below are a few tips that can help you and the baby get started on your breastfeeding journey together.
Start feeding as soon as possible
It does not matter whether you delivered the baby naturally or via a C-section. It is very important that you let the baby suckle as soon as it’s practically possible. Breastmilk isn’t something that is just lying there in your breasts, ready to be sucked by the baby. You need to ‘produce’ it. This production is governed by the release of the hormone oxytocin. And the production of oxytocin in the body is triggered by the baby’s suckling. Also, the first secretion from the breasts – the colostrum – is very important for the baby and if you are regularly putting the baby to the breast, the baby is sure to have it.
Ensure a good latch
Image from WHO
As a new mom, you need to teach the baby to latch on correctly. An incorrect latch can lead to extremely painful nipples that can move you to tears! Work on latching the baby correctly right from the beginning. Babies are pro at learning to feed. So, gently help them latch the right way and before you know it, they will be doing it correctly on their own! For a good latch, the baby should open the mouth wide and take the nipple as well as a part of the areola in her mouth.
Start the feeding sessions when the baby is calm
The first couple of days are critical for both of you to get comfortable with breastfeeding. A good time to feed is not when the baby is crying with hunger. Instead, latch her when she is awake, but calm. Teaching the baby to latch correctly is much easier when the baby is calm.
Don’t worry if you feel there’s no milk
While some women start having engorged breasts right from the beginning, some others might need some time before a good supply is established. So, if you feel there’s no milk, don’t get disheartened. Let the baby suckle as much as possible, as often as possible. The more the baby suckles, the more the milk supply increases.
Maintain skin to skin contact
Image from Unicef UK.
A skin to skin contact between the baby and the mom also triggers the production of oxytocin and helps increase the supply of breastmilk. Undress the baby to her diaper and hold it against your bare skin while the baby feeds.
Don’t worry about flat or retracted nipples
You can breastfeed very well even if you have flat, retracted, or inverted nipples. Even though, it is best to do some exercises to pull the nipple out during pregnancy so that the breastfeeding becomes easy, sometimes even that does not bring the nipple out completely. However, it is still possible to breastfeed successfully with a good latch. And the baby’s sucking motion will bring the nipple out as the weeks pass.
Don’t delay in getting help
If for some reason your breastfeeding sessions aren’t exactly the river of milk and homey that you expected, don’t worry. However, get help immediately. If due to any reason (low supply, incorrect latch, etc.) the baby is started on top feed, try to get breastfeeding on track within the first three days of birth. Babies, if offered the chance to have food without making an effort to suck, will quickly get used to the top feed and might reject the breast. Hence, if you have any issues, get help from a lactation consultant as soon as you can. Same goes for engorged breasts or painful nipples.
Breastfeeding is difficult for some women. But, ladies, it’s not rocket science either. Ask for help, eat well, rest as much as it’s physically possible. And, soon you will find that both you and the baby have settled into a nice breastfeeding routine and are enjoying this time together!
For making it more comfortable, be prepared to start feeding immediately by investing in comfy maternity wear that make nursing and resting a breeze. Check out this super cute and comfy pajama set here.