Breastfeeding is warmth, nutrition, and love all rolled into one. However, the superpower to provide nourishment for a tiny human doesn’t come easy. While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby. It’s only obvious that we should strive to make this time-consuming and testing process as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. However, nursing is a unique experience for every mother and baby, so what works for one woman may not work for another.
That said, there are plenty of time-tested techniques for improving milk flow, correcting position, clearing blocked milk ducts, and more, some of which we have discussed below.
However, the best and perhaps the most difficult advice is to relax. Remember that you and your baby are learning.
1. Get A Head Start
Early bird catches, early baby latches! Ideally, you should feed your little one within an hour or two of the delivery. At first, your body will produce colostrum or pre-milk, a thin yellowish liquid. The colostrum has a slower flow to help your baby learn to nurse. It is rich in antibodies and is a must for your baby (1).
To make breastfeeding a comfortable and fulfilling process, it is important that you find a relaxed position, in which you can nurse without straining your arms, neck, or back. The baby’s mouth should be wide open, with your nipple as far back into her mouth as possible. This can be achieved by placing the thumb over your areola and the fingers underneath it. Soreness is often caused if the nipple is not inserted properly. A breastfeeding pillow can be an excellent aid – it props the baby into the perfect spot so that you can focus on the latching. A pediatrician or lactation consultant can also help you find a comfortable nursing position.
3. Nurse On Demand
The first thing you’ll learn about newborns is that they do not believe in schedules. Don’t be fooled by their tiny bellies! They can and should drink enormous amounts of milk. In the beginning, it is better to feed your child on demand – it stimulates the breast and ensures a steady flow of milk. Breast milk is digested easily, thus breastfed babies need to be fed more frequently than formula-fed babies. If your baby gains weight consistently after the first two weeks, goes through 6-8 diapers and 2-4 stools a day, and gives a satisfactory burp post-feed, he is getting the right amount of milk.
Sadly, the wonders that are breasts, they do not come with faucets. You cannot regulate the time or quantity of the milk you produce. So, as a new mother, you might produce a lot of milk or nothing at all. Usually, you’d go through a phase of engorgement, where your breasts become big, hard, and painful for a few days. However, this can be relieved by feeding on demand and applying warm compresses on the breasts before feeding and an ice pack after feeding. In severe cases, you can consult your doctor and take over-the-counter pain relievers and apply prescribed ointments if bleeding or cracks appear.
5. Nothing Other Than Breast Milk
You might feel that you’re not producing sufficient milk, but do not supplement your baby’s diet with sugar, water, Cerelac, or baby formula. Give your body the time to heal and understand your baby’s demand. Any supplement will interfere with the baby’s diet and consequently reduce the amount of milk your body produces. If you feel your baby needs more milk, increase the frequency of nursing, eat right, and get plenty of rest.
6. Delay The Pacifier
It is recommended that pacifiers and other types of artificial nipples be avoided for at least the first 3-4 weeks. Pacifiers require a sucking action that is different from sucking the breast, so an early or excessive use of the binky can confuse the child and result in the misalignment of teeth. Sometimes, babies who use pacifiers develop oral yeast, which can be transferred to the mom’s nipples. Thus, use the binkies sparingly, only to meet his suckling needs.
7. Use Nursing Pads
Your breast will leak, irrespective of the time of the day. However, you can avoid embarrassing leak outs and stay dry with absorbent nursing pads. While reusable cotton pads are budget-friendly, disposable pads are most convenient.
8. Don’t Worry About Spit Ups
Almost half of young babies spit up regularly. Fret not, it is just them getting the hang of the whole new world of feeding! If the reflux is an easy flowing out of milk, there is nothing to worry. However, vomiting is different. If the milk gushes out with force, shooting out instead of dribbling from the chin, you must notify your doctor. Normal spitting up doesn’t interfere with a baby’s well-being. As long as your baby seems comfortable and is eating well and gaining weight, there’s little cause for concern.
9. Watch For Infection
While cracking, bleeding, and soreness are normal, if you observe any redness, painful lumps or get a fever, it might be the onset of a breast infection or mastitis (2). These symptoms require immediate medical attention.
10. Eat Right And Take Plenty Of Rest
Milking mommies ought to eat a balanced diet full of nutrition, rich in calcium, which usually means consuming an additional 500 calories. Avoid caffeine and minimize the intake of alcohol. Drink enough water, usually 6-8 glasses a day. A balanced diet includes eating from all 5 food groups. You should get 5 servings of milk or dairy products each day. If you do not eat meat or dairy, you can get calcium from foods such as broccoli, sesame seeds, tofu, and kale.
Once you start putting these 10 tips in action, your life is certainly going to change for good. Last, but not the least, calm down. We know it’s not easy, but try to enjoy the bonding developing between you and your little one. Once that is taken care of, everything else will fall in place.