You have the decision to breastfeed, but you still need information on how to get started. You can start the breastfeeding process right in the delivery room as long as both you and baby are doing well.
Turn the baby so that his whole body faces you while there are different methods of holding the baby during a feeding this is a good position to start with for the first feeding. Next touch the baby’s lip with either your nipple or finger. The baby should open it’s mouth and moving its head to find the nipple, this is called the rooting reflex and is normal for newborns. Once the baby is interested, just pull him onto the breast. His mouth should cover not just the nipple but also the aureole (the darker part around the nipple).
If you feel nipple pain or the baby doesn’t seem to be sucking properly, then chances are that she has “latched on” incorrectly. Just place your small finger into the baby’s mouth, touching the gums. This action will break the suction, and you can try again. Don’t be discouraged, breastfeeding takes time and practice for both you and your baby. You’ll know baby’s latched on properly if her lips pout outwards and cover most of the aureole.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Breastfeeding is usually considered successful if both mom and baby are comfortable during the process, but there are a few things to remember. First always wash your hands before feeding. Keep the breast clean by washing it with warm water but no soap or lotions that could contain bothersome chemicals. Not keeping the area clean can result in a yeast infection called thrush. It shows as white patches in the baby’s mouth that look like milk but can’t be washed or scraped off. It’s painful for the baby and can cause feeding problems. The good news is that it’s easily cleared up with medication from your doctor.
Next, you will need more calories in order to produce enough milk for your child. Usually between 200 and 500 extra calories per day is adequate. Cut back on your caffeine intake as it can affect a newborn. One 12 ounce cup a day is what is recommended. Not all foods will affect all newborns. Many little ones don’t mind if mom eats something spicy but may react to cabbage with gas and bloating. Be sure to eat a normal, healthy diet and watch to see if the baby reacts badly to food and then eliminate it.
Some mom’s worry that her breast tissue may push against baby’s nose making it difficult for her to breath. Don’t worry, the infant’s nose is designed to continue breathing even if it looks “squashed”. If you are very concerned and can’t relax just take your fingers and gently push down on the breast. Doing this will shift it enough to allow the baby to breath.
You will at some point be tempted to lie down at night to feed your baby while you sleep. That just isn’t a good idea. You should never sleep with an infant on your bed. You weigh a great deal more and may crush a little one without even realizing it. It’s simply not worth the risk.
HOW TO HOLD YOUR BABY DURING A FEEDING
There are several ways to hold your baby during feeding. The best position tends to be whichever one that allows both making skin contact; the baby can see your face, and you’re both comfortable. Some moms like to rest the baby on a pillow on her lap, others find they are most comfortable with a foot rest while still others can’t get rid of their rocking chair. Two of the most common holds are the cradle and the football.
With the cradle, the baby’s head lies in the crook of the mother’s arm and is supported on the back and buttocks by the other hand. In this one, the baby is sideways facing mom.
The football occurs when you tuck the baby under your arm like a football. The head rests on your hand while the body is supported by the arm. The football position is good for very small babies.
WHAT IS MEANT BY “LET-DOWN REFLEX”?
This reflex occurs when your milk is ready to flow. Let down can take a few seconds or minutes to occur once the baby has latched on. You may feel a tingle in the breast though not all women do. Milk will drip from the breast not being used. The most bothersome part is that let-down can occur if a feeding is overdue, you hear a baby crying, or you think about your baby. It’s the reason behind breast pads that fit into a nursing bra. You should always change these pads as soon as possible after it becomes wet. Also, choose one that does not have a plastic backing for comfort.
IS MY BABY GETTING ENOUGH MILK?
The best ways to tell if baby is eating enough are that he acts satisfied after nursing and is gaining weight appropriately. Your doctor can tell you the last one but remember that it’s not uncommon to lose some ounces shortly after birth. You can also use diapers as a gauge. In most cases, a healthy baby receiving enough nutrition will have 6-8 wet diapers a day, and 2-5 stools a day, gradually dropping to two a day.
While still a newborn the baby will want to nurse from 8-12 times a day gradually decreasing the number as its stomach enlarges and can hold more at a time. Unless otherwise told by your doctor, you should use both breasts at each feeding. Baby will want 15-20 minutes per breast and may show a preference for one breast over another. This preference is normal just remember that your body will increase the amount of milk produced best if the breast is emptied.
This information will help you get started. If something just seems not right, you can contact your lactation specialist or your doctor for more information.