Breastfeeding can be one of the most challenging things you have to master when your baby is a newborn. It is a learned skill for the mother as well as the baby and can take time to get right.
Here are some tips to help you along the way when you first start breastfeeding:
1.Try to make the baby open his/her mouth as wide as possible before you offer the breast. You can try expressing some milk out on to your nipple so that the baby will get the smell. The baby’s mouth should be wide open in a fish shape for a good latch to be achieved. Tickle the baby’s lower lip with your nipple to encourage wide opening of the mouth. Aim your nipple to the roof of the upper palate to get a good latch.
2. Bring the baby to your breast, instead of taking your breast to the baby. Hold your breast in a C shape and try to get the baby to latch on to as much of the areola as possible. A lot of the pain during breastfeeding maybe due to a shallow latch.
3. If the baby is latching well but you are still in pain throughout the breastfeeding session, ask your paediatrician to check for a lip or a tongue tie.
Lip tie implies that the fleshy fold of tissue which attaches the lip to the upper gums maybe too low, interfering with breastfeeding. Similarly a tongue tie is where the mobility of the tongue is restricted by the fold of tissue attaching the tongue to the lower gums.
If you or your partner has a significant gap between your two front teeth (diastema), you may also have a lip tie which your baby may have inherited.
4. Latching pain is a severe pain that occurs when the baby latches to your breast and lasts for a few seconds. This momentary flash of pain has to do with milk letdown and will go away once your breast lets down the milk more quickly for the baby. For me, it took around 3 weeks to subside.
5. Keep your breasts as soft as possible, don’t let them get engorged (feeling hard and full) if you can help it. Massage the lumpy spots (clogged ducts) on your breasts if you feel any as you feed. You will feel them draining out as you do so. Feed the baby often and for longer times to drain your breast completely.
6. The right way to feed the baby is to offer 20-30 minutes of one breast, then offer the other breast. Whether baby feeds from the second breast or not, start off with the second breast in the next feed. This way the baby will get both the initial foremilk (low calorie milk which quenches thirst) as well as the hind milk (thicker nutritious milk which helps to gain weight).
Some doctors advise to only offer one breast at each feeding to allow that breast to drain out completely. Do whatever feels right for you and your baby.
7. Initially, it is hard to know if your baby is getting enough breast milk. They maybe too small to express it if they aren’t getting enough milk by fussing, crying or rooting. I remember in the first few days after he was born, my son used to drink milk for ages and fall asleep. But he wasn’t passing enough urine and was losing weight as per the scale. These are two clear indications that you have a low supply of milk.
8. Some things to keep handy are: lanolin based nipple cream for sores, cracks or pain, disposable/cloth breast pads for milk leaks. You can hold off on buying a breast pump till you feel you need it
The truth is, no matter what you read, it may not be enough to prepare you for breastfeeding. However, read as much as you can, and maybe take some classes so that you have adequate awareness and don’t feel completely lost when the baby needs to feed. Youtube videos of mums who are experienced in breastfeeding and share their experiences can also be immensely helpful.
There may be many moments when you feel like you want to give up, but as long as your baby is trying to suckle and getting even some milk, keep trying while supplementing at the same time. Breastfeeding is a demand and supply scenario, the more the baby suckles, the more milk your body will make.
From what I have seen and heard, most women have either an under supply of milk or an over supply, both of which can cause problems. However, trust that after the initial discomfort, the strong likelihood is that you will settle into a comfortable routine with your baby and will be able to provide him/her with everything he/she needs to grow healthy and happy.
What has been your breastfeeding experience? Do you have any tips for first time mums? Please share in the comments below.
Featured image source: http://www.parenting-with-love.com/q-should-i-sleep-train-my-baby/