Finally, you’re through with labor. And Beside you lies this beautiful little human being. Or better still you’re, holding it in your arm. The gauzing and deep eye contact can tell it all. You are in love.
What of the little fingers all over the mouth? Could it mean that they want to breastfeed? Oh yes! This is their way of saying, “Mom, I need some food. I’m hungry.”
For most new mothers, this can be a challenging time. Your breast milk hasn’t started flowing, and the itch-hatch of post-delivery pain is still fresh. You may be torn between caring for yourself and the baby. And even though your caregiver may help, it’s good to be prepared with some best breastfeeding tips.
But before we dive in, lets me share my experience on how it went down when I first had my first borne.
- I didn’t have breast milk for three days.
- I didn’t know how to hold my baby.
- The post-delivery pain went on for as long as I can remember.
- The horror of the delivery process is still fresh in my mind.
All these factors may be traumatizing for new moms. But don’t worry, as you get used to it, everything will fall in place.
So, what are the breastfeeding tips that can help you as a new mother?
1. Relax and compose yourself
Stress and anxiety can be a great hindrance to your milk production. To deal with nursing anxiety, you should first understand that this is a journey, and yes, most women have experienced the same.
Adjust in your mind that for the next few months, you are going to be your baby’s source of food.
Try your best to relax by giving yourself a pep talk before nursing. This can be affirmations like “I’m grateful to God now that I have this beautiful baby under my care. I’ll do my best to give it what it deserves.”
According to Dr. Shivani Patel, stress is among the top reasons for breast milk reduction. “I’ve seen women who, within 24 hours, have gone from having an ample milk supply to none due to stress.” She says
Besides, your baby can sense when you’re under tension. This can affect its suckling ability. Try to relax so that it can relax and feed well.
Also, your nursing environment is crucial. Choose a quiet nursing environment after you leave the hospital. A lot of noise can disrupt the concentration of your baby and affect its feeding.
2. Watch for and respond to your baby’s hunger signs
Rather than wait for it to start crying, you can watch out for signs that it wants to suckle.
This is because a baby’s cry triggers emotions from people around you, like your caregiver. And as much as they may act in good faith, sometimes they can add pressure on you, especially when they start questioning your ability to nurse the baby. Some may even offer to help remove your breast, which can make you feel quite uncomfortable.
Instead of waiting, anticipate your baby’s desire and make a move before he starts crying.
Here are few signs that may help you understand your baby’s hunger cues.
- He moves his fists to his mouth.
- The head is turning around to look for the breast.
- He is more alert and active
- He is sucking on his hands or lip-smacking.
When you anticipate your baby’s breastfeeding desire, it gives you amply time to look for a comfortable sitting position. This is crucial especially now that you may be nursing some stitches.
It also helps you to hold it well and position your breasts properly for better latching.
3. Find a comfortable position for yourself
A breastfeeding session for a newborn can take 20 minutes or more. This is a long time; hence, you must find a comfortable sitting position to avoid back, shoulder and neck pain.
If your delivery was normal, try to sit upright with your legs together. Always use a chair with good back and arm support. You can also elevate your feet by putting them on a stool for much more comfort.
If you chose to sit on the bed, ensure you’re not sitting on the edge. You can also incorporate pillows for back support.
Alternatively, you may lie on your side with your baby facing you. But, you should take precautions lest your breasts cover its nose and interfere with breathing.
4. Position your baby appropriately for proper latching
When it comes to nursing, positioning your baby appropriately is paramount. It helps him to latch better and remain comfortable throughout the feeding session.
There are many recommended nursing positions. This includes cradle position, cross-cradle position, clutch position, and side-lying position. It’s thus crucial that you try different styles to find out what works best for you.
Pillows are also great in reinforcing your baby’s feeding position. Put them under your arms or elbows for support.
Always raise your baby to your nipple height rather than leaning over. That will make nursing more comfortable and help your baby get a good latch without tiring your back.
Before you start breastfeeding;
- Ensure that you’re in a quiet, calm place.
- Tickle your baby’s lips with your nipple so that it opens its mouth wide.
- Hold your baby skin to skin. Or rather, hold your baby against your chest.
- Ensure that your hand supports your baby’s neck, shoulders, and hips.
- Offer your breast, but let your baby find your nipple on its own.
5. Allow your baby to determine how often and how long it should nurse
Newborns get hungry so often. They may feed about 8-12 times a day, especially during the first month. You should thus feed them on demand.
Allow your baby to determine how often and how long it should nurse. This not only assures their satisfaction but also helps to stimulate milk production and maintain its flow.
Newborns should feed often. Hence you shouldn’t allow your baby to go more than 4 hours or more without feeding, including at night.
How long it takes to breastfeed depends on you, your baby, and other things, such as:
- your milk supply and letdown reflex (the amount of time it takes the milk to flow from the nipple)
- Whether your milk flow is slow or fast
- Whether the baby has a good latch, taking in as much as possible of your areola.
- Whether your baby begins gulping right away or takes it slow
- Whether your baby is sleepy or distracted
6. Not enough milk supply, do not worry it will increase
While most women look forward to having a steady flow of milk after birth, some take longer to realize this goal.
If you’re among them, don’t worry. It happens.
For instance, when I had my firstborn, it took a hooping three days before I finally saw some good milk flow.
According to doctors, delay of breast milk can occur if you hard a premature birth. Also, some medical and lifestyle conditions such as diabetes and obesity can contribute.
Other factors include; a pregnancy that required prolonged bed rest, traumatic birth or a postpartum hemorrhage, and not being able to nurse within the first few hours after giving birth.
I didn’t have these conditions, but still, it happens. So what can you do in such cases?
- Continue nursing to stimulate milk production.
- Drink a lot of water for hydration
- Try relaxation methods such as listening to music
- Massage your breast with a soft hot towel or take a hot shower. Heat and massages can stimulate the flow of milk.
- Drink hot tea, porridge, or take dark chocolate for milk stimulation.
- Use a hospital-grade pump for increased stimulation and production of milk.
- Ask for milk supplements or infant formula from your pediatrician
7. Why does it hurt so badly when my baby latches?
A little pain during or after the nursing is normal. For instance, you may experience 30 to 60 seconds of pain when your baby latches.
However, when the pain persists, you should try to check on the following;
- Poor latch-on – Try adjusting how you hold your baby at the breast.
- The slow letdown of milk – you can gently massage your breasts before a nursing session for relaxation.
- The baby is not using his tongue correctly. Check on tongue-tie or stop the use of bottle teat or dummies.
- When taking the baby off your breast, the suction is not broken. Place a clean finger between your baby’s gums to break the suction before removing him from the breast.
- You experience Engorgement. Place a worm piece of cloth on the breast. Use your fingertips to massage the breast while pushing the swelling backward, away from the areola. Also, Breastfeed frequently.
8. Some spilling on your blouse? It’s normal
While it is pretty uncomfortable to walk around in a stained blouse due to milk leakage, it’s normal. The milk production and the let-down reflex process involve hormones; hence you may have little control over it.
Most mothers experience the leaking with a simple trigger like thinking about their baby. Sometimes their cry or delayed feeding sessions may trigger it.
You may feel a tingling sensation before the milk starts to drip. Or notice an unwelcome wet spot on your blouse.
So, what can you do to stop the dripping?
The mechanism of dealing with dripping boils down to what works for you. You can try pressing your areola with the palm of your hand in a circular motion. Also, you can use breast pads as a short-term protection solution.
9. Increase your food and water intake
After delivery, you may be tempted to diet. Most women want to lose the extra weight gained during pregnancy. But, girl, this weight loss journey shouldn’t affect your food intake.
Instead of concentrating on weight, focus on increasing the quality and quantity of your breast milk for your baby.
Actually, you don’t need a special breastfeeding diet if you cannot afford it. Only ensure that whatever you consume is nutritionally balanced. And can replenish the 500 calories breastfeeding burns each day.
Consider eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains such as oats, brown rice, and cereals. A healthy snack, such as an apple with nut butter, between meals can help to close the calorie gap.
Also, Foods rich in protein, iron, and calcium can help stimulate breast milk production. This foods include dark leafy greens, beans, eggs, seeds, lean meat, and low mercury seafood.
Adequate hydration is also essential for breast milk production. I’ve realized that every time I breastfeed, I’ll feel thirsty. I still don’t understand this relationship. But I know that a lot of water is necessary for breast milk production.
The amount of liquid you put into your body affects how much breast milk you can produce. I challenge you today to have a water bottle on the table to help you track the amount of your water intake in a day.
When to seek help
Once you’ve done what you ought to do but still notice inefficiency in milk production, then it’s time to see a lactation consultant.
Some of the common symptoms that should worry you include
- Your baby appears dehydrated with sunken eyes or skin losing elasticity.
- They have fewer wet and dirty diapers. Your baby should be having at least 5 to 8 wet diapers a day after their fifth day of life.
- They cry throughout with poor feeding.
- They are losing weight instead of gaining.
- You feel it in your instinct that something is not OK.
If you notice signs that your baby isn’t getting enough milk, contact your pediatrician. They can assess whether there could be other health issues.
Should I breastfeed even though I don’t have milk yet?
Yes. Continuous breastfeeding stimulates the production of milk. When your baby latches, the nerves send a message to the brain, which signals the hormones responsible for milk production to act. Continue nursing frequently, and you will notice an increase in the volume of your milk.
How long should a 1-day old baby breastfeed?
Most nursing sessions for newborns take 20 to 45 minutes. However, the length of time can depend on various factors such as the availability of milk, the let–down reflex, or how well the baby latches. If you notice that your baby is taking longer to nurse or wants to nurse after 5 – 10 minutes, it may be a sign that it’s not getting enough milk.
Should I wake my newborn to feed at night?
If your newborn is sleeping more than 4 hours, you should wake him up to feed. While good sleep is good, lack of consistent feeding can interfere with weight gain. Try your best to feed it for about 3–4 hours until it shows good weight gain. This can take a couple of weeks, but afterward, it’s OK to let your baby sleep for longer periods.
How do I know my baby is full when breastfeeding?
Once your baby is full, it will stop suckling. Often they look relaxed, content and may maintain eye contact, meaning they are ready for engagement. Sometimes they may sleep immediately or gauze around with a loose body.
Nursing a baby comes more naturally to most moms. However, preparing in advance can lessen your motherhood anxiety. Learn all you can from those who have done it ahead of you. Above all, compose yourself and enjoy your sweat time with your little one. After all, soon, they will be grownups and gone.