Breastfeeding doesn’t need to be micromanaged, despite what lactation consultants and pediatricians have to say about it. Breastfeeding is the most natural act a mother can do with her newborn child. Like most new mothers, however, you may feel that you just don’t know where to start and would like information before the baby makes her debut. There are five key components that will make breastfeeding an joyful experience for you and your baby:
All babies are born with the ability to find the nipple and latch-on. Sadly, we worry so much about the perfect latch-on technique that we forget about this said ability. Latch-on is key to the baby getting enough breast milk and mom not suffering from constant sore nipples (despite what nurses and consultants say, your nipples will crack, scab, and be sore for the first two weeks- ask any mother!). Keep these three ideas in mind when your baby is latching on:
1. Your baby should be in line with your breast and her nose should be at your nipple. Doing this will help the baby get the nipple far back into her mouth when she actually latches on to your breast.
2. Move your baby’s head back and forth gently toward your nipple until she opens wide. You may have to do this several times, but eventually she will open very big and lunge toward your nipple. When she lunges, help her by slightly applying pressure to her shoulders.
3. To guarantee that she has latched on correctly, her lips should be far apart and you should feel a suction motion on your nipple. The areola will covered almost entirely (unless you have large areolas, then don’t worry) and your baby’s lips will be everted.
Before your baby can latch on correctly, she must be in a comfortable position. This is where you come in! Most mothers use the cradle or the cross cradle position to breastfeed their babies. Follow these three rules when breastfeeding your baby to guarantee a happy and successful breastfeeding experience:
1. Hold your baby so that his hips, shoulders and neck are in alignment. This does not mean that your baby needs to be horizontal to your body. Try holding your baby at a 45 degree angle when breastfeeding. Oftentimes, babies enjoy this position because they are able see mommy and milk back flow is far less likely.
2. Cradle your baby’s head with one hand, thumb on one side of the neck, and the rest of your fingers on the other side. This provides proper support. Use your legs or a pillow to support your baby’s body.
3. Finally, hold your breast for your baby. Baby’s are too small to keep the breast steady until they are a bit older. Keep your fingers away from the areola, and make sure that you are not shoving your breast into your baby’s mouth, rather your baby is bringing his mouth to your breast!
Nipples are amazing. Nipples also get sore, they bleed, and they scab over during the first several weeks of breastfeeding. Doctors, nurses, and lactation consultants will tell you that breastfeeding should never cause the mother pain, but they lie to you! For example, when my daughter was born, I was doing everything right and so was she. There were no issues with latch on or positioning…or anything, yet my nipples had cracked, they were scabbing over, and they hurt worse than labor. Seriously. I started asking around and all mothers that had breastfed informed me that it hurts for about three weeks, then your nipples adjust to the pressure, suction, and constant touching- then you cannot even remember what the pain felt like.
So if you are breastfeeding and it is hurting, don’t give up! Give it a couple of more weeks and you will realize that breastfeeding is a lot of work. It takes a lot out of you for awhile and then it becomes an amazing experience that you are so glad that you stuck with it! For sore nipples, try the following techniques to help get over this painful three weeks:
1. Get the HPA Lanolin cream and apply it in the morning, after every feeding, and before bedtime. It will heal the cracks and dryness already existing, plus it will prevent any future cracking.
2. Apply cold compresses 10 to 15 minutes before each feeding to cool them down, numb them and relieve inflammation. Or try the hydrogel pads that go in your nursing bra.
3. Take a warm shower in the morning if your breast are very engorged. The warm water will stimulate the breasts and they will release much of the milk that is stored in the breast.
Breastfeeding is an important aspect to infant-hood. Breastfed babies are smarter, healthier, and more likely to thrive than babies that are formula-fed. Aim to breastfeed at least six months, but one full year is best!