Breastfeeding your baby is no easy feat. It may be a natural process, but it also can be a difficult one. However, we encourage all new mothers to at least try to breastfeed as it reaps endless benefits for your little one and yourself.
Early breast milk, called colostrum, contains countless nutrients and antibodies, helping your newborn grow stronger and fight off diseases. Breastfeeding helps mothers lose their pregnancy weight, and it also reduces the risk of postpartum depression and breast and ovarian cancer. Not to mention, nursing your newborn saves you money on pricey formula. Breastfeeding is truly worth the struggle and effort, as it creates a special bond between you and your little one. We have provided some tips to help make the process easier for both you and your baby.
If possible, try to breastfeed your newborn within the first hour of birth. Do not be afraid to ask for help. The maternity nurses or a hospital lactation consultant can help you position the baby and ensure he or she is latching on correctly. While it might be uncomfortable when your baby first latches on, it should not be extremely painful if you position the baby correctly. It is important to make sure you are comfortable because if you are uncomfortable, it is likely the baby will be too. Cradle your baby close, bringing him or her to your breast, rather than leaning forward and bringing your breast to the baby. Support your baby’s head with one hand, while supporting your breast with the other hand. Once the baby begins nursing, look and listen for a rhythmic sucking and swallowing pattern.
During the first few weeks, newborns typically need to be nursed every two to three hours. Allow your child to drink as much as he or she wants. Breastfeeding is supply and demand and the more often you nurse, the more milk your body will produce for your baby. This is why it is important to listen to your baby’s cues of hunger such as sucking motions, stirring, restlessness and crying. To ensure your child is receiving enough milk, allow the child to drink from each breast during a feeding. Rest assured, you’ll know your baby is getting enough milk because of their diaper changes! To keep your milk supply in both breasts even, alternate which breast you begin nursing with for each session. If one breast seems to be retaining more milk than the other, you should pump that breast to preserve your milk supply.
During this time of constant feeding, it is important to stay hydrated to ensure your body can produce enough milk. Try sipping on a glass of water when nursing. As your baby and you get acclimated to nursing, try not to introduce a bottle or pacifier. The thrusting motion required to nurse is much different from sucking on a pacifier or bottle nipple, and this could confuse your baby. Also, do not offer water to your baby until he or she is around six months old. Your baby will get enough hydration from breastfeeding alone. After his or her first birthday, when your baby is eating solids and no longer breastfeeding, you can let your baby drink as much water as he or she likes.
The most crucial element of breastfeeding is relaxation. Try to nurse in a calm, quiet environment, as you will be more likely to release your milk. At first, you may need privacy to feed your baby. Over time, the process will become much more natural for both your baby and yourself. Until this happens, do not give up. As the saying goes, “patience is a virtue”, and this is certainly true for breastfeeding your baby. We hope these tips help you have a successful nursing process with your newborn! If you have more questions about breastfeeding your newborn, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow for further information. For more information on the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD., call 618-235-2311 or visit our website.