Here are some tips to help you get through the breastfeeding process…
As a mom who is expecting your baby soon, you may be looking forward to breastfeeding. You may have already weighed all the benefits to be derived not only for baby, but also for yourself. Certainly you do not want to be one of those mothers who will say in the future, “I wish I knew this about breastfeeding”. Many mothers would have loved to give better care to their baby especially at the newborn stage if only they knew how to properly breastfeed. Here are some tips to help you get through the process, and to foster that bond between you and your baby from early on.
Know when Baby is Hungry
Your baby will begin to make certain gestures when it’s time for her feed. She starts to make sucking sounds, put her hand in her mouth and turning her mouth towards the breast. Try not to wait until she begins to cry as this signals that she is too hungry. You may need to wake her at times when it seems that she is way past her eating hours and she is sleeping too long. Gently wake the baby if she is sleeping for more than four hours. You can do one of three things to wake her. Massage her back, legs and tummy, place her skin against yours, or change her diaper.
Ensure that you are Relaxed
Health care experts will tell you that when you are relaxed breast milk will let down free and fast. This is what your baby wants so as not to be miserable and that you do not feel frustrated. Start by establishing a calm environment for breastfeeding. You may need to secure a place away from the noise and distraction of household traffic and activities. It would be good to breastfeed in the same place each time so you both can see it as a peaceful and relaxing place. Do whatever relaxes you. One mom plays light relaxing music in her breastfeeding space. Another mom sets up her feeding station with iPod, note pad, feeding pillow and where she can see the TV. You can also reduce distraction by giving up certain things such as being on the phone or even reading during this time so you can focus on feeding the baby.
Allow Baby to Latch on Properly
Breastfeeding should be done so that mother and baby are both happy. You may not achieve this because the baby’s mouth does not cover over the nipple area properly when feeding. For this reason you feel a lot of pain and the baby does not get all the milk she needs to satisfy her. Your goal is to get her to open her mouth wide so that she covers the whole area around the nipple. Touch her upper lip with the nipple to encourage her to open her mouth. As she “roots” or looks for the breast, bring her head forward and place the breast in her mouth. Ensure that her mouth covers all the tissue around and under the areola (the dark part round the nipple). When your baby latches correctly her sucking and swallowing will sound satisfying and you are more comfortable with the process.
Follow Your Baby’s Lead
As your baby latches on and enjoys her milk, watch for cues to determine how much she will take. While some babies will take only one breast, there are bigger eaters who may take both breasts in feeding. You should allow the baby to finish the first breast so that she gets what is called the “hind” milk, the fattier part of the milk which comes at the end. She will let go of the breast when she is finished and often falls asleep. Offer the other breast if she seems to want more.
Don’t Forget to Eat
Be mindful that when you breastfeed your baby is consuming a lot of nutrients from you. The food you eat is what takes care of making the milk. Therefore do not forget to take care of yourself by leaving out important nutrients from your body. This is the time when you should make good choices about eating. Don’t get it wrong; breast milk is produced regardless of how you eat. However, how you eat will affect the amount and quality of the milk produced. Make the effort to eat a balanced diet with a good mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats which will also give you much of the energy to take care of your baby. Include lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains and cereals in your diet. Eating natural foods and eliminating processed foods will make you feel full for longer .
Challenge Sore Nipples
Many mothers develop sore nipples while breastfeeding. A possible cause is that the baby is not latched on properly during the process. This can cause great distress, making the breastfeeding activity unpleasant and not one to look forward to. If you are constantly plagued with sore nipples seek the help of a lactation consultant who will help to ensure that you get the right latch. If the soreness continues, there are a few things that you can do to get some relief. For one, you can change the feeding position each time to distribute the pressure between breasts. You can make use of the healing properties found in breast milk by rubbing some expressed milk around the nipples after you have done feeding.
You can further the healing also by leaving your breasts hanging under a cotton shirt without the covering of bras. This will provide the opportunity for them to be air-dried so healing can take place. At the same time, avoid wearing tight fitting clothes that will put pressure on the nipples. Also, stay clear of soaps and ointments that may contain astringents that are harsh on the skin and make the problem worst. You can safely clean your breasts with just water which comes with natural healing properties also. In all of this consult your health care provider who will advise you properly and may prescribe for you some aspirin-free pain relief medicine.
Very often, or not, you will need to take baby out in the public. The stares can be disconcerting and you may feel slightly embarrassed when you breastfeed. You can develop some confidence by using some simple strategies to minimize exposure. Practice makes perfect and watching yourself breastfeed in the mirror can give you the feeling that someone else may be looking at you.
Wear clothes that will not get in the way or take a long time to get the baby to the breast. There are nursing bras or tanks with latches that can open easily reducing the time and preventing fumbling around. When you go out, do not wait until baby starts to wail before letting her feed. Apart from drawing attention, you will have a harder time getting her to latch on properly. Learn to read her cues to tell you when she is ready. Help yourself also by finding a place that does not have so much traffic, and where you can relax while nursing. Note that over forty states allow women to breastfeed in any location.