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Breastfeeding tips for new moms as a first-time moms can be an overwhelming experience. You must’ve known women who breastfeed effortlessly, but what’s natural isn’t always downright easy. Breastfeeding is a learned process and you must’ve found yourself looking for breastfeeding tips for new moms on blogs, mom-groups, social media, videos, and everywhere possible. None of us, nor our babies are born knowing how to do it.
There’s always something new to learn- whether it’s about positioning your baby or knowing if you are getting enough milk supply or knowing how to transition to work after your maternity leave ends. Breastfeeding also offers lots of benefits for not just your baby, but for you as well.
Let’s learn about the science, techniques, and mechanics of breastfeeding.
How Does Breastfeeding Help Your Baby?
Breast milk is extremely important for your baby’s well-being.
- Supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions.
- Protection against infections, like ear infections.
- Protection against allergies, sickness, and obesity.
- Protection against diseases, like diabetes and cancer.
- Healthier weights.
- Easily digested – no constipation, diarrhea, or upset stomach.
How Does Breastfeeding Help Mothers?
There are a lot of benefits of breastfeeding for you as well
- Helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size
- Reduces post-delivery bleeding
- Easier to lose pregnancy weight
- Reduce your risk of postpartum depression and also breast and ovarian cancer
- Delays the return of your period
Stages Of Breast Milk Flow
Before stepping into the tips for breastfeeding, it’s important to understand the flow of breast milk. Your breast milk arrives in three stages- making it the perfect food from the first day to the tenth and beyond:
The thick, yellowish (sometimes clear) substance that you’re producing after the delivery isn’t milk. It’s colostrum, the same stuff that leaked out during pregnancy. This is a vital blend of protein, vitamins, and minerals that helps defend against harmful bacteria and viruses, and possibly even stimulate the baby to produce antibodies. It has innumerable benefits for your baby’s overall development.
- Coats the inside of your baby’s intestines
- Protecting their immature immune system
- Protecting against allergies and digestive upset
- Stimulates baby’s first bowel movement
- Reduces jaundice risk.
You might be producing very little but your little one won’t need any more than a few teaspoons of colostrum per feeding during the first few days. Also, regular suckling from the start will help stimulate your body to produce the next stage of milk within a few days.
Next comes the transactional milk, which your breasts produce between colostrum and mature milk, usually around the third or fourth day. It resembles milk mixed with orange juice but tastes a lot better to your baby. This milk contains lower levels of immunoglobulins and protein than colostrum but is rich in lactose, fat, and calories.
Somewhere between day 10 to two weeks postpartum, the thin and white mature milk arrives. Although it may look like watery skimmed milk, it is packed with all the healthy fats and nutrients that your growing baby needs.
How To Latch A Baby To Breastfeed?
This can get a little tricky at first, but your baby will soon get into the right position if you keep trying. It is important to get a good latch, otherwise, it can lead to breast discomfort. Your baby’s mouth should not just cover the nipple, but the areola as well. Now your baby’s mouth, tongue, and lips can massage the breast milk out of your milk glands. If your baby sucks only on the nipple, it will not only leave your infant hungry but also make your nipples sore and cracked.
Here’s a step-by-step procedure to latch your little one in the right position:
- Position yourself nose to nipple and tummy to tummy. Their head should be in line with the rest of her body, not turned. This makes swallowing easier.
- Encourage mouthful by tickling their lips slightly with your nipple, so that they open their mouth fully.
- In case your baby turns away, try the rooting reflex. Stroke their cheek on the side nearest to you. This will help them turn back towards you.
- Observe the suckling. If the baby is suckling you’ll see a steady suck-swallow-breathe pattern and a rhythmic motion in their cheek, jaw, and ear. Once the milk comes in, you’ll hear light sounds of swallowing or gulping.
- You’ll know that your baby is just sucking or gumming on your nipple if you hear clicking noises.
How Long Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
There aren’t any set of rules that you must follow for your baby’s feeding time. To prevent soreness and cracking, an ideal position is suggested, instead of reducing the feed time. Keep the following breastfeeding tips in mind:
- Each sitting typically lasts 20 to 30 minutes
- Empty one breast fully
- Wait for baby to signal when they’re done
How Often Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
Feeding patterns vary widely from baby to baby and they aren’t born hungry. Their appetite generally picks up around the third day. But the chances are there won’t be much demand at first, which means you may have to initiate or sometimes even push.
- Babies generally have 8 to 12 feedings in 24 hours for the first couple of weeks. This means that you’ll probably have to nurse every two to three hours.
- In case you have a feeling that you’re constantly nursing, don’t worry. This is just temporary. As your milk supply increases and your baby gets bigger, the breaks between the feedings will get longer.
How Will I Know If My Baby Is Hungry?
The perfect balance to breastfeeding is when your baby is hungry. But how will you know if your tiny one is hungry?
- Nuzzling against your breasts
- Sucking on their tiny hand — or your shirt, or your arm
- Opening their mouth
- Sucking on their lip or tongue
- Making lip-smacking sounds
What Are The Best Breastfeeding Positions?
This totally depends on you and your little one. You might have to run a few trials and errors before you find your most comfortable position. Here are a few breastfeeding tips for new moms:
1. Cradle hold
Hold your baby so that their head will rest in the back of your elbow on the arm on the side you’ll breastfeed. Support the rest of the baby’s body with the same hand. With your opposite hand, hold and compress it very gently so that the nipple points towards your baby’s nose.
2. Crossover hold
With the hand opposite to the breast, you’ll nurse, hold your baby’s head. Use your free hand to cup your breast as you would for a cradle hold.
3. Football hold
Tuck your baby’s legs under the arm on the side of the breast you’ll nurse from. Now hold your baby with that arm on a pillow to lift her up and use your other hand to cup your breast.
4. Side-lying position
This is a comfortable position to nurse in the middle of the night. Lie on your side facing your baby. Their head should be in line with your nipple. Use your opposite hand to cup your breast if necessary. You can also place a small pillow behind your baby’s back to hold them close.
5. Laid-back position
This position is also known as biological nursing. In this position, you can lean back comfortably with pillows supporting your back and neck. Place your baby tummy to tummy, with their cheek on your breast. Your tiny one’s weight will be supported by your reclining body. The main intention of nursing in this position is to take advantage of gravity and let your baby naturally seek out your nipple.
Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms
If it’s your first time, it’s pretty normal to get a little nervous. These tips here can help give you more confidence and ensure you and your baby get the most out of the experience:
- There are hundreds of books available on breastfeeding tips for new moms.
- Many hospitals and lactation consultants offer breastfeeding classes. They teach you how to latch and boost your milk supply.
At The Hospital
- The sucking reflex is at its peak about 30 to 60 minutes after birth. So plan to breastfeed as soon as you can. But if it doesn’t happen right away, don’t stress- just go with the flow.
- Take the initiative when it comes to breastfeeding your baby if you decide to try nursing from the start.
- You can schedule a visit with one or take a class, so a lactation consultant can observe you feeding your baby. This will help you make sure you’re on the right track and check that your baby is getting enough milk.
- Seek a calm and quiet place to nurse your little one.
- Avoid using your phone or talking on the phone during breastfeeding for the first few weeks.
- Keep a book or a magazine nearby, to keep yourself engaged.
- Also, don’t forget to keep it down from time to time, to interact with your little one.
- Get comfortable on an armchair or recliner.
- Your milk supply is tailored to your baby’s needs in the first few days of life, and those needs are minimal and usually easily filled by colostrum. Keep practicing till your milk supply builds up.
Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms Going Back To Work
End of your maternity leave and work calls. This means there’s going to be a change in your breastfeeding routine. There are plenty of breastfeeding tips for new moms to help you with this transition.
- Practice pumping before you head off to work.
- When your breasts remain full of milk, the cells actually start to turn off production. This leads to a low milk supply. So it is advised to pump often, not longer.
- Your milk supply is likely to fluctuate at this time and it’s normal.
- You can expect to have a very robust milk supply at the beginning of the week, but towards the end of the week, your milk supply might decrease due to stress and sleep deprivation.
Breastfeeding Tips For Breast Pain
Breastfeeding isn’t painful, but the experience is different for every mom. It can especially hurt when the baby’s teeth start coming.
- Bring your baby to your breast, not just your nipple. Now your baby’s mouth, tongue, and lips can massage the breast milk out of your milk glands.
- Improper latching can cause a lot of discomforts. It’s always good to seek out help from professionals.
- Keep your nipples moisturized.
- You may also have clogged milk ducts. You can enhance your milk supply and reduce inflammations by taking a hot shower and applying a cold compress.
Breastfeeding Woes: When Should You Talk To A Lactation Consultant?
You might need the help of a lactation consultant when you face any glitches while breastfeeding or want to get ready ahead of time. A lactation consultant can help you with:
- Poor latch
- Breast engorgement
- Insufficient milk supply
Final Takeaway On Breastfeeding You Little One
Breastfeeding can be overwhelming at times. But by putting the tips above into practice, you can make the most of your time with your baby while breastfeeding. Observe your baby’s needs, get comfortable, and relax. Evaluate the signs that breastfeeding is going well, and make sure you’re staying hydrated. Also, remember, it’s perfectly okay to ask for help.