Congratulations! You have pushed your little spawn out of your womb amidst the cries, screams, sweats, flatulence and urine incontinence! It is time to welcome the baby with open arms, brand new garments, a baby monitor (that is always charged) and restless nights!
The moment you hear the first cry of your baby, your body begins warming up to your ‘motherly instinct’! Your first concern – apart from getting cotton diapers for your baby’s soft bum – will be obvious! How to begin nursing your baby? Breastfeeding is a natural phenomenon but it surely induces a lot of anxiety when you realize you are the primary source of nutrients vital for your baby’s growth!
Even though breastfeeding comes naturally to you right after you have pushed the demon out of you, we have mentioned 10 ways that might come in handy for lactating mothers starting out!
Wear Comfortable Clothing
Consider wearing loose clothing – with or without bras, as per your convenience – during your breastfeeding phase. However, we highly recommend nursing bras for new mums as they are adjustable and allow you to expose your breast without taking them off!
Assess your Baby’s Tell-tale Signs
Before you wait for your baby to cry and turn your house upside down, assess the tell-tale signs which they might exhibit whenever they are hungry. Babies usually stick their tongues out as well as suck on whatever they can get a hold on when hungry. They might get slightly agitated and turn their heads to and fro in anticipation of milk as well.
Let Your Baby Determine The Feeding Interval
Usually, it is recommended to breastfeed your infant every 2 – 3 hours during the first month of your lactating phase. In this way, your baby will get 8 to 12 feeds every day, and would not have to struggle for your attention when hungry. But, there is no hard and fast rule that states you have to wait for the hours to time up! Understand your baby’s tell-tale signs and nurse them if you notice them pining for your attention.
There might be times when your baby becomes content with ten minutes of breastfeeding. However, do not get worried if your nursing time exceeds 45 minutes or so! Plus, even if your baby is sleeping for more than two to three hours, try not to wake them up for nursing. You can always make up for the exceeded nursing interval after they wake up with contentment.
Choose The Perfect Position
While breastfeeding, try to sit or lie down in such a position so that your body does not get tired from nursing and holding your baby. For starters, take your infant in your arms in such a way that their chin lies right beneath your breast. Since you will be holding your baby for a long while, try to give support from the back so that both of you are comfortable during nursing.
Another position – especially for times when you are tired and your baby’s halfway snoozing – is to lie down on your side as your baby’s mouth faces your breast. Always support your back with a couple of pillows so that you are at rest while breastfeeding.
Tilt your baby’s head and offer back support especially during the first six months when there is no innate neck control. With their chin adjacent to your breast, try to focus their mouth on your nipple if not the entire areola.
You Need To Relax
If you want to make sure that your baby’s mouth latches onto your breast properly, try to feel completely relaxed during breastfeeding. Your baby can sense your tension, and as a consequence, would not be relaxed in any position you choose for breastfeeding.
You might feel more stressed out if you are outside, particularly due to the lack of breastfeeding-friendly places and unwanted attention. But, do not let it get to you because it is absolutely no crime to breastfeed your baby in public places!
Be Wary Of Infections
Pay certain attention to your breast size and appearance. Even if they are not twins, you must observe any inflammatory changes to your breasts, especially if you have a blocked sinus, a common cold or fungal infection (thrush).
Observe for any redness, flaky areolas or cracked nipples, and foul-colored discharge from your breasts. Always remember – thrush is contagious. Your child’s mouth can contact a thrush from an infected breast. Before this happens, consider going to your gynecologist or a general physician for an antibiotic course coupled with healthy probiotics and/or antifungal topical regimen.
Thrush usually manifests as a diaper rash or as whitish spots in the oral cavity of the mouth. You can treat the diaper rash with an over-the-counter anti-fungal regimen such as gentian violet. However, it is highly recommended to get you treated with oral antifungals for systemic eradication as well.
Breast Engorgement Is Common
Also, since your breasts might engorge throughout your lactating period, it is advisable to keep a stack of nursing bras, preferably of several sizes, handy! Engorgement of breasts can also be due to a blocked milk duct. Make it a habit to use a breast pump between nursing intervals. It can help you release some of the pressure and prepare your breast before you breastfeed.
Do Not Worry About Milk Discharge
Milk discharge is completely normal during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Try not to become alarmed if your blouse becomes soiled with milk droplets initially. Milk discharge can occur when you are stressed out which can even happen if you hear any outward emotion that is strong enough to trigger its release.
It can also occur if you are concerned about feeding your baby, especially if the nursing time interval has exceeded more than your usual time. You can place an absorbable pad under your nursing bras during your breastfeeding phase so that the milk discharge would not dampen or soil your clothes.
Drink Enough Water
You are the primary caregiver of two people now (yes, including yourself!). It is necessary that you stay hydrated so that your body never runs out of milk to provide for your infant. Plus, with motherhood comes new visions and goals – and one of them is to raise your child by taking care of yourself at the same time as well! Similarly, make it a habit to drink a glass of water at least a half an hour before you nurse your child.
Alternate Breast Sides
Your nipples might become sore or even crack if you continue feeding your child from the same breast frequently. Change your child’s position every 5 to 10 minutes as you alternate your breast sides for nursing. However, your nipples will get used to your child’s suckling motion and slowly, toughen up despite the frequency of your nursing sessions.
Always remember, the first milk, colostrum, is the most important part of your breastfeeding phase. It consists of nutrients, vitamins and most importantly, an immunoglobulin that is vital for building your baby’s immunity! However, breastfeeding is a conscious choice, and it is completely alright if a newly turned mother decides to switch to bottle feeds completely.
Try to breastfeed in a controlled and calm environment – lactating is a natural phenomenon and will come to you gradually! Always remember – babies require milk as per their nutritional needs and growth spurt. With each developmental milestone off the list, you will become more relaxed during breastfeeding your baby, and soon, acknowledge your child’s attention before the crying signal!