Family Health, Women's Health Tamar Raucher | 2 years ago

Breastfeeding: Simple Tips for Success

Whether it’s from your partner, other moms, books or your healthcare provider, very few topics spark the flurry of advice from others that breastfeeding does. Just remember how you feed your baby is ultimately your decision.

The research is in and there’s no question that breastfeeding carries a host of benefits for both mom and baby. Breast milk is packed with all the nutrition your little one needs, plus disease-fighting antibodies that help protect your baby from illness. But breastfeeding isn’t always easy; many new moms struggle with nursing, especially as their milk is coming in. It can take weeks – sometimes months – for mom and baby to find their rhythm. If you run into problems, take heart. You’re not alone.

Know what to expect

Breastfeeding your baby will demand a lot of your time and energy.

Find a position that works best for you and baby

How your baby is positioned against your breast is important to a good latch. Babies are born sucking, but they don’t always innately know how to latch onto the breast the right way. It often takes practice – and sometimes leads to sore, and even cracked, nipples in the beginning. If you or baby become frustrated, “reset” by putting her skin-to-skin on your chest, take a few deep breaths and then try putting her on your breast again. If you are recovering from a C-section, the “football hold” – cradling your baby in one arm at your side – might be a good choice because your baby’s weight isn’t right against your belly.

Drink lots of water

One of the best ways to keep your milk flowing is to stay hydrated – very hydrated! Try drinking a full glass of water (8 oz. or more) during or after every feeding.

Know how to deal with engorgement

Your milk has to “come in,” and as it does you may get engorged. Tip: use warm compresses or take a warm shower and massage your breasts before nursing and apply ice or cold packs for 10 minutes after.

Use a lanolin ointment

These creams and gels help moisturize and soothe your nipples, and are safe for baby. Your nurse may also recommend a nipple shield if your little nurser is particularly rough.

Be flexible

Some babies end up needing formula to supplement mom’s breast milk, especially if they are losing weight. It doesn’t mean that you are failing or need to give up. Remember, the more you put your baby to your breast to suck, the more milk you will produce.

Set up a cozy nursing spot

Find a quiet place in your home and set up your very own nursing station equipped with water, burp cloths, a nursing cover, extra pillows to help prop up your baby and anything else you might want nearby. This will save you breaking a good latch to go get something.

Keep a log

In the early days of nursing, your baby may feed as many as 8 to 12 times a day – or more. Jot down the start and end time of each feeding, as well as which breast your baby fed from – there are several apps available online to help track feedings – and the number of wet and poopy diapers as well.

Relax

It’s probably easier said than done when you are trying to get your baby in the right position to latch, particularly if you have onlookers or have had trouble breastfeeding in the past, but the fact is, stress can interfere with your milk production. Relax your shoulders while feeding. If it helps, listen to your favorite tunes and minimize distractions.

Watch your baby

Look for early signs of hunger so you can feed your baby before he or she gets really worked up and sucks even harder. Look for signs such as when your baby turns to the side and makes sucking noises (known as rooting), or when your baby puts their hands in their mouth.

Get support

Take advantage of breastfeeding classes at the hospital. Ask your partner to join so that they can help you get your baby latched correctly in the beginning. Surround yourself with people who are supportive of your intent to nurse, especially in the early weeks when you and your baby are sorting it all out. Many hospitals and pediatric practices have lactation consultants who may also be covered by health insurance. Talk to your OB for more information on breastfeeding classes.

Remember all babies are different

If you had trouble or success with one baby, it doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience with the next. But if you do end up having difficulties, don’t be hard on yourself. Give it your best shot and if your baby ends up being formula-fed or if that’s your choice from the start, that’s perfectly fine.  

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