BreastFeeding Tips & Tricks
February 1, 2017
Experts agree that breast milk is one of the greatest gifts you can give your baby. Breast milk is filled with nutrients and antibodies that boost your newborn’s immunity, aid digestion and promote brain development. And breastfeeding burns calories thus helping you lose those pregnancy pounds faster! Breastfeeding also reduces your lifetime risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer and postmenopausal osteoporosis.
The benefits of bread feeding are certain but breastfeeding isn’t always so easy. Marathon feeding sessions, engorged breasts and soreness are just some of the challenges nursing moms might face. Thankfully, with information and practice the vast majority of early onset breastfeeding problems can be overcome. Today, there is a strong network of lactation consultants, dualas, formal breastfeeding associations and new mothers groups devoted to supporting breastfeeding mothers. Additionally, apps, blogs, social media and dedicated websites are readily available as ‘go to’ portals for advice.
B Immediate! Start breast-feeding immediately after giving birth: After a vaginal delivery, try to nurse right away. If you’ve had a Cesarean section, you may have to wait until surgery is complete—but aim to breastfeed within the first hour. Be sure to provide your doctor or midwives with a birth plan stating that your goal is to breastfeed as immediately after birth as is possible. Don’t stress if your baby doesn’t nurse at first; unless she’s a preemie, she shouldn’t need much nourishment for the first few days. (Babies born at term have stores of calories and fluid that make it unnecessary for them to eat much early on.)
B Comfy Cosy! Take time to get comfortable, before starting to breastfeed. Once your baby is latched onto your breast and nursing contentedly, you won’t want to interrupt her because your back hurts or your arm is tired. Start by sitting up straight in an armchair or your hospital bed. You will might find it helpful to lay a firm pillow across your lap so your baby is level with your breast, and prop up your elbows on the chair arms or pillows. (You also can use a pillow designed specifically for breastfeeding.). You might like to place a pillow behind your back for support. If you’re sitting in a chair, place your feet on a small stool to bring your baby closer and help prevent back and arm strain.
B Latched! A good latch is essential for your milk to flow properly (and to keep your baby from gnawing at your nipples!) Before you put your baby to breast make sure that you are belly to belly. When baby latches on, (her) mouth should be opened wide, like a yawn, and take in a good portion of your areola.
B Grazing (it’ll B’Ok)! Frequent and effective nursing is key to boosting your milk supply and ensuring that your newborn gets enough to eat. You should aim for at least eight to 12 feedings daily—about every two to three hours—for the first few weeks. At first, each nursing session could last anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes; as your milk production increases and your baby gets better at suckling, it shouldn’t take as long. The number of feedings will also decrease. In the first weeks, when your baby is more sleepy than hungry, you may have to initiate many of these feedings—even if it means waking her in the wee hours. If she falls asleep within minutes of latching on, you can try rousing her by changing her diaper or undressing her. But if she seems to be gaining weight appropriately, you don’t need to.
B Exclusive! While the idea of pumping some extra milk and letting your partner take over a few feeds, it is best practice to hold off on introducing a bottle (or a pacifier, for that matter) for a month or so, until breastfeeding is well established. It might be easier for babies to drink milk from an artificial nipple but giving a bottle too early could cause your baby to reject the breast in favor of the bottle’s faster flow. Consider your breastfeeding goals and the practicalities of how these fit into your immediate and longer term plans prior to introducing a bottle. If pumping, direct feeding and bottle-feeding is your goal then be sure not to wait too long before introducing bottled breast-milk (just wait til after the first month).
B Normal! Yellow “milk” : Until your milk comes in (usually three to four days postpartum), you’ll be producing small amounts of colostrum, a thick, yellowish substance that’s extra-rich in antibodies and easy to digest—the perfect food for a newborn Colostrum is brim full of protective nutrients and your baby doesn’t need much (about a teaspoon per feeding.) Engorged breasts: Just when you thought your boobs couldn’t get any bigger, your milk kicks in, causing them to swell even more. If you’re nursing frequently and effectively, this engorgement—along with any tenderness—should subside within a few days (though you may become engorged at any time if your baby goes longer than usual between feedings). If you feel engorged to the point of discomfort, try expressing milk by hand or with a pump; or apply a warm compress before nursing to make it easier for your baby to latch on (your robust breasts might be hard and softening them by releasing some milk prior to feed might help the baby latch on). After nursing, insert ice packs or bags of frozen peas in your bra to minimize swelling (wrap them in damp paper towels or thin dishtowels to protect your skin). Another trick is adding few ice-cubes to a ziploc bag with a touch of cold water for a quick gel like cold pack.) You might also try cold cabbage leaves, an ancient Chinese remedy that relieves engorgement in some women. But only use them until the milk flows. Sore nipples: Some mild soreness is common in the first week or so and can be soothed by applying a touch of expressed breast milk, medical-grade lanolin or an all-natural ointment. Severe pain, bleeding or cracking are signs your baby isn’t latching on correctly—so get help from a lactation consultant ASAP. Leaking and spraying: It may take several weeks for your milk-production system to regulate itself. Until then, you may feel like Old Faithful—leaking, spraying and dripping breast milk at inopportune times. Though inconvenient, it’s perfectly normal and indicates that you’re producing plenty of milk. To avoid stains, wear disposable or washable cotton nursing pads and change them often.
B Social! New moms who get plenty of support and guidance tend to breastfeed longer than those who don’t (and experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding for at least one year).
B Investing! A nursing pillow (it’s a multipurpose purchase as baby can use a solid one as a prop), a natural nipple salve, a supportive nursing bra (not an underwire bra), breast pads, A breast pump (helpful in early days and universally relied upon by moms planning to continue breastfeeding after returning to work), A freezer (to store all of that pumped milk so that your return to work will be less stressful…
B kind to yourself! Give yourself time to adapt and don’t beat yourself up when its not all going as planned. Some days will be easy and some will be a bit more trying for you- but they will pass. Set your breastfeeding goal and persevere through all of the beauty, intimacy, perfection AND the ups and downs! xoxoxo