A guide to breastfeeding your baby
Breastfeeding is a rewarding motherhood responsibility. You get to bond with your baby at a height that’s simply magical. Whether you get it right or wrong the first time, does nothing to spoil your magic moment.
As much as breastfeeding comes naturally, new moms need a guide to breastfeeding their newborns. How to position your baby, how to know if she’s getting enough milk, when to feed, and how to know that baby is full are essential know-hows. Let’s get straight to it.
How to latch on
Your baby should latch on to your nipple and parts of the areola to avoid painful feeding. This also ensures that he gets enough milk as your milk ducts are properly compressed.
Bring your baby to your breast, not your breast to your baby. Skin to skin contact with your baby keeps her warm, calms her heartbeat with an unparalleled feeling of security, regulates her breathing and helps her feed.
Your baby naturally has a rooting reflex that prompts feeding. This reflex is responsible for your baby’s voluntary mouth opening and search for the breast even if it’s totally new to her.
To help your baby latch on, especially newborns, hold him with his head, neck, and body in a straight line. His shoulder should be supported with a little space for his head to tilt back. Your baby should face your breast with one nose to your nipple. When he opens up his mouth, press the back of his shoulders to pull him towards your breast. Your breast should be aimed at the roof of his mouth.
Your baby is latched on properly if his chin is pressed into your breast, sucking pattern changes from rapid to slow, more areola is visible above his top lip than below, your nipple looks exactly the same as when you started feeding, and the feeding is painless.
Let your baby feed for as much as he likes. You can drain one breast fully before switching to the next or switch between feeds.
For your first feed, you can tickle your baby’s lips with your nipple to encourage her to open up. Make sure you relax your back. Don’t tilt forward to feed your baby because that way you will be bringing your breast to your baby which is wrong. You might feel a tickling sensation in your first few days of feeding. It is absolutely normal and will pass.
Don’t detach your baby from your breast until she’s full. This is often when she stops sucking and sleeps off or refuses to feed more.
When to breastfeed
Successful breastfeeding is hinged on feeding when your baby is hungry instead of feeding on a schedule. For your newborn, feeding every two to three hours is ideal. Since babies with their feeding patterns vary, your baby might feed more or less. Just know that the more you breastfeed your baby, the more milk you produce ensuring that your baby has enough to feed on for healthy growth.
This is the most common breastfeeding position. Hold your baby such that her head lies in the elbow of your hand from which side you’ll be feeding. The same hand supports your baby’s entire body while the opposite hand holds your breast and compresses it gently for feeding.
Baby’s legs are tucked under the arm on the side you’ll be feeding from. The arm in that side is used to lift your baby up while the other hand cups your breast. It’s a position suggested to moms with large nipples, a preemie, or who had a Caesarean section.
This is a recommended position for moms with Caesarean section and painful stitches. You can lie on your side with your head on a pillow and one arm slightly above your head. Bend your legs slightly with your baby facing you and on his side as well. His head should be free to tilt back. Press on his shoulder with one hand to bring him to your breast.
The milk your baby gets
Colostrum is the first substance that comes out of your breast at your first attempt at breastfeeding. It is sometimes called the foremilk. It includes higher concentrations of vitamins, proteins, and minerals that help build your baby’s immunity. It helps defend against bacteria and viruses and stimulates first bowel movement. Gradually your breastmilk will contain less proteins but more fat, lactose, and calories.
Between 10-14 days after first breastmilk, mature milk appears. Do not supplement breastfeeding with formula, water, or any other liquid in the first six months of your baby’s growth. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended. Supplementing breastmilk with formula will interfere with your normal milk production and supply.
Be sure that after birth, your nurse, midwife, doctor, or lactation consultant will be on hand to practically assist with your first feed and any issues you might have with subsequent feeds.