The first week of your baby’s life will be really exciting for you. But, it will also probably be daunting, especially if you don’t know how to breastfeed. You will think that your life is very bewildering after giving birth – you will have to simultaneously recover from the delivery and get to know your newborn.
Count on that your emotions will be all over the place. Be sure that days 2-5 will probably be the most difficult for you (this is a general rule for all women). Also, everyone will expect from you to know what you’re doing so there will be a lot of pressure so you need to be ready to act as a supermom. However, the most important thing you should know is breastfeeding baby properly.
When to Start Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding your baby in the first hour after delivering is the best thing you can do. Your baby will latch on and start sucking rhythmically. This will provide your baby with needed nutrients and your baby will start getting used to your breasts. People also refer to the first hour as “magic hour”!
Some lactation consultants say that giving your baby access to your breasts immediately after birth is the best solution. The doctors will, ideally, put your child on your chest right after the delivery to give your baby a chance to suck. However, be aware that your baby might not want to feed. Either way, it is really good to give your baby a chance to do so.
Make sure you are supporting your baby’s body while doing this. But, try to let your newborn find the way to your breast on its own. This will be the first step in learning how to breastfeed properly. There are some videos on this topic on the internet, so you can get some extra info there. However, if your baby can’t find the way to your breasts, be sure that the doctors will be there to support both of you and help with positioning.
This is why you should forget about dressing and weighing your little one during the “magic hour.” If you are very impatient, wait at least until you are done with breastfeeding baby for the first time. You will enjoy skin-to-skin contact with your child and relax while cuddling. Doing this will make the production of oxytocin even easier – making it easier for you to provide your baby with the first milk. The first milk is also called “colostrum”.
Be aware that the midwives first need to make sure that your baby is healthy. This won’t take long and you will soon be available to have your time as a family with your newborn and your husband. Be ready for a lot of emotions and mess, but also an unforgettable first special hour of your baby’s life!
Also, you should know that breastfeeding will help you recover from birth faster. Oxytocin in your body will make your uterus contract. This will help to reduce the blood loss and naturally expel your placenta during the first hours after the delivery.
Does Your Baby Latch Correctly?
To start breastfeeding correctly, your child needs to have a good attachment to the breast first. This is very important because your child’s latch will later affect the amounts of milk it drinks – this will then impact your baby’s development and growth. Don’t be afraid to ask a professional whether your baby has a good attachment. You may get damaged or sore nipples if your child has a boor patch. Always check with a professional while you are at your birth facility for help, even if you don’t notice any obvious problems.
Call a midwife to make sure that the latch is fine. Women sometimes think that the latch is fine but they feel pain. A midwife will help your baby in these situations to latch properly. This will probably give you some confidence and you will start teaching your child on your own about breastfeeding.
Make sure you are aiming to the top part of your baby’s mouth with your nipple. This will help your baby to latch properly on to the nipple and will be able to feel some areola too. Your child will be able to put a big part of your breast if you do this which will make breastfeeding a lot easier and more enjoyable.
You shouldn’t be feeling pain while feeding. On the contrary, you should feel a tugging sensation and you should be comfortable generally. Your little one’s mouth will be wide open during the process. The top lip will be resting comfortably on your breast, while the bottom lip might be directed outwards. You will notice that your baby is comfortable. Be sure that you won’t be able to produce that much milk during the early phases of breastfeeding – resulting in less swallowing. However, your baby will still be getting enough food and sucking a lot.
Breastfeeding – How Often?
Duration and frequency of breastfeeding will vary a lot during the first week. Especially in the first 24 hours – it will be different for every baby. Some babies will feed more frequently while others may sleep for a long time since birth can be very tiring for a newborn. New moms are very confused due to this variability but don’t worry about anything. Every baby and mother are individuals for themselves, so different advice may lead you to the solution in your case.
Be aware of the fact that colostrum is a lot thicker than breast milk you will produce later. It is also produced in smaller amounts but holds a lot of necessary nutrients. Your baby will have good practice if you let it drink your colostrum. Breathing and swallowing rhythmically will be more natural for your child when your breast milk comes in larger quantities. This is why providing your baby with colostrum is essential when learning how to breastfeed correctly.
You should know that your breast milk will probably come about 2 to 4 days after birth. By then, your child is probably going to nurse 8 to 12 times every 24 hours (don’t be surprised if the numbers are higher). Be patient since early feedings can last up to 1 hour. Your child needs to develop the coordination and muscles to suck efficiently. If it gets the grasp of it early, the feedings can last only about 10-15 minutes.
Be ready for a lot of tension at first. A lot of new moms are not ready for the intense experience when they’re breastfeeding the baby for the first few days. You will probably eat, shower, and even go to the bathroom on rare occasions. Don’t let this surprise you and be ready for the experience properly.
Your baby might want to get fed every two hours (including both day and night). Now, if you get the average feeding to be about 30-60 minutes you will soon realize that you will have very little time for yourself. Prepare to be exhausted!
Do you need a Schedule?
Your milk supply will be greater if your baby is initiating feedings more frequently. This is great news for any mother who is just starting breastfeeding the baby for the first time. Your newborn feeding schedule will be random and you have no reason to worry about planning anything about it. You may just reduce the feeding opportunities if you do so. However, there are a few things you need to pay attention to if you don’t know how to breastfeed so you can notice if your baby is hungry:
- Sucking lips
- Poking tongue out
- Stirring from sleep
- Trying to eat its hand
- Turning the head if it feels something on the cheek
- Opening the eyes
- Starting to whine
- Making cooing noises
You should offer your baby a breast if it starts to cry, without any doubts. Crying is a late sign of hunger. Be sure that breastfeeding baby that’s crying is a lot harder than usual, especially if you both of you are still learning how to breastfeed properly. Breastfeeding sessions should start feeling more manageable as your baby gets older – it will ask for breastless often and feed faster.
Does Breastfeeding Hurt?
You may probably already hear that breastfeeding doesn’t hurt. However, a lot of moms find the first couple of days pretty uncomfortable. Considering your breasts are not used to the frequent, strong sucking your child will be doing, you shouldn’t be surprised about the pain.
Your baby will be getting used to your body and your body will be getting used to your newborn, this is why the experience might be uncomfortable at first. The uncomfortable feeling you may experience if your baby is not attached well and stays on the breast too long can be compared to the effect of wearing new, stiff shoes. Damaging your nipples is very easy, so you have to be careful. It is always better to prevent the damage than to treat it later. Consult with a lactation professional if the uncomfortable feeling not going away and you will probably get a nipple cream. Even though your baby might have a good latch, you may still experience pain and your baby can do a lot of damage while feeding.
Don’t be surprised if you experience period-like cramps. This may happen after you are done with feedings, especially in the first couple of days. The condition is known as afterpain and it happens more often to mothers who already had babies before. As already mentioned, breastfeeding releases oxytocin – which helps to contract your womb. This results in afterpain.
Your breasts will certainly feel bigger, firm, and full than they used to be when your milk comes in. Swollen, tender, and hard breasts are a common thing among a lot of women. This condition is also known as engorgement. The pressure will be relieved over time by frequently feeding your baby.
What is Enough Milk?
Don’t worry about your small amounts of milk in the first few days; your baby will be satisfied anyway. However, you will have to produce what your child needs if you are feeding on demand. Make sure you keep the track of wet and dirty diapers your baby produces. If you notice anything unusual, consult with your baby’s pediatrician.
Most babies just sleep and feed in the first three or four weeks. Think about visiting a healthcare professional if your child is not settled and only wants to feed all the time.
Babies sometimes vomit a milk-colored substance after breastfeeding. You shouldn’t be concerned about this. However, if the vomit has black, brown, green, red, or orange in it make sure you visit a pediatrician. Do the same if your baby is projectile vomiting. Blood in the poo, high temperature, a soft spot on the head are also alerting and you should contact a healthcare professional.
You will know that your child is getting enough milk if it doesn’t have any of the mentioned symptoms and it meets all the growth targets. Both of you will get used to breastfeeding very soon and you will find a regular pattern without too many troubles.
What to Eat?
All you need while nursing is a normal, healthy diet. Having a well-balanced diet will provide you with high-quality milk, but will also provide enough milk for your child. Don’t worry if your nutrition is not perfect, you will still be able to produce milk for your baby. Don’t count calories, follow your hunger instead. Drink enough fluids since staying hydrated is the most important thing.
Your body will be working hard to make enough breast milk for your child. This is why you will probably feel hungry very often while breastfeeding baby. A good way to keep your energy level high and your hunger in check are to eat small meals with some healthy snacks when needed. A general rule of thumb says that breastfeeding moms need up to 500 calories more than those who don’t have babies.
Don’t take a lot of caffeine. Caffeine can pass through your body and end up in your baby through breast milk. It may accumulate over time and you don’t want that. Another thing you want to limit (read exclude) is drinking alcohol if you are breastfeeding. The reasons are obvious – it will end up in your baby.
Baby Planet Overview
Breastfeeding is very important for every mom for numerous reasons. The number one being the social-bonding aspect of the experience. This is why you want to be ready for breastfeeding even before your little one is born. There aren’t a lot of things you have to worry about, just make sure you follow the above-mentioned guidelines.
You have to work with your newborn to make breastfeeding comfortable for both of you. The start will probably be hard and exhausting, but things will get better only after a few days. Feeling uncomfortable is common when you are just starting, but make sure you consult with your pediatrician if the pain and discomfort are persistent even after a couple of weeks.
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- Breast Feeding, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov