You’ve heard all the breastfeeding horror stories from your friends and family – sore, cracked nipples. Exhaustion. Emotional roller coasters.
The truth is that establishing breastfeeding can indeed be difficult, but you can become a pro. It’s important to use all the available resources to help make breastfeeding more enjoyable and successful for your little one and yourself.
At Suburban Pediatric Associates, we believe – along with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association – that breastfeeding is the preferred method of feeding. Our certified lactation consultants offer classes and regular appointments for support and advice so you can learn the skills you need.
There’s a crucial window once your milk comes in to start removing it, or your body will stop producing milk. Positioning the baby and correct latching are both important in helping you establish a successful breastfeeding routine.
When you’re ready to breastfeed, take a few extra moments to get comfortable and then take these three steps:
- Sit upright: If you lean forward or backward, it makes it harder for your baby to grasp your breast.
- Keep baby at breast level: Use a pillow or even your leg to elevate your baby.
- Check baby’s alignment: The head, neck, shoulders, back and bottom should all be aligned, not flexed or curved.
Holds and latches
There are several effective breastfeeding positions such as the cross-cradle, football and reclining holds. Suburban Pediatric certified lactation consultants Shari Kehres and Eileen Bens recommend practicing at least two before leaving the hospital.
After finding a comfortable position, it’s time to help your baby get a successful latch.
- Express a few drops of milk from the nipple onto your breast.
- Touch your nipple lightly against the midpoint of your baby’s upper or lower lip.
- Tickle the lip lightly and then wait until your baby opens the mouth very wide.
- Pull baby quickly to grasp the breast.
After feeding, your baby may stop sucking and let go of the breast naturally. If that doesn’t happen, don’t pull your baby off your breast because that can damage your nipple. Instead, slide a finger into your baby’s mouth and press down on the breast to remove the nipple.
How to know breastfeeding is going well
With breastfeeding, you can’t measure how many ounces of milk your baby drinks every day. But, there are several signs that let you know if breastfeeding is going well. Look for these clues from your baby:
- Has a wide-open mouth like a yawn with lips flipped out during feeding
- Swallows during feeding
- Feels content or sleepy afterwards
- Feeds at least eight times every 24 hours
- Has at least four wet diapers a day, by the end of day 3
- Produces at least three soft yellow bowel movements every 24 hours, by day 5
Self-care for moms
Caring for yourself is an often-overlooked part of successful breastfeeding. The best thing you can do as a new mom is to accept and ask for help. Family and friends can help do laundry, prepare meals and accomplish household chores. That way you can focus on three important tasks: eating, sleeping and taking care of your new baby.
Try your best to practice all areas of self-care – both for yourself and to support the quantity of milk for your baby:
Nutrition: Eat three balanced meals a day, following the food pyramid as best you can, and drink plenty of fluids. To stay hydrated, make sure you have a water bottle for you during every feeding.
Rest: The well-known advice of “sleep when the baby sleeps” is really true. Limit your other household activities so you can get as much sleep as possible.
Exercise: Take a relaxing stroller walk with your baby when possible to enjoy some fresh air – all while getting a physical and mental boost.
Hygiene: While it’s difficult to find much time for personal hygiene, a daily shower or bath helps significantly with self-care. It’s also a good time to cleanse your breasts and nipples. In addition, wear a clean nursing bra every day, changing breast pads frequently, as moist pads can harbor germs.
For more information:
At Suburban Pediatrics, we’re here for you and your family every step of the way. Call us at 513-336-6700, attend one of our prenatal and breastfeeding classes and follow us on Facebook.