Something that crosses the mind of almost every new mother is how they are going to go about feeding their newborn baby. While bottles and formula are one way to go, many women are more interested in breastfeeding their child for the first several months to the first year (or even more) of their lives.
While breastfeeding is indeed a highly personal choice for new mothers, many more mothers are choosing the breastfeeding route as the way that they wish to feed their newborn babies. Having said that, many first-time and expectant mothers also find themselves a little bit apprehensive about breastfeeding and how it is going to work for them.
The following are 15 great tips that expectant mothers can use to help them feel a little bit more comfortable when it comes to breastfeeding their newborn child:
1. Wear Nursing-Friendly Clothing:Wearing clothes that are meant for breastfeeding can help make the task much easier when it comes time to feed your baby. Seek stylish "non nursing" looking clothes with pieces of material that simply snap in place and hidden under panels to keep your chest warm and covered. All you have to do is detach or lift the piece of material and you are ready to feed your baby. Place the material back when your baby is done feeding. These clothes that are available with nursing a baby in mind include everything from tanks to t-shirts, or hoodies and sweatshirts. This is especially helpful when dealing with unsupportive family that may make comments. They are hopefully sure to compliment you on your savvy and smart attire and keep their negativity to themselves when they see how current nursing style has truly become.
2. Utilize Bra Pads If Necessary:If you find your breasts leaking in between feedings, invest in some "breast pads" that go inside your bra. They will soak up the excess milk between feedings and keep the milk from leaking out onto your clothes. There are even milk collectors that fit in your bra to literally collect "spilled milk" so you can add that to your stash.
3. Expect Your Child To Nurse Frequently Soon After Birth:Most babies will nurse 8-12 times per day for the first several months of life. Offering enough feedings to your baby each day will be paramount to your child getting adequate nutrition and to ensuring your baby is gaining weight appropriately during the first months of life. A side bassinet for the bed is helpful in nursing your baby for those frequent night feedings.
4. Get A How-To From The Maternity Nurses:Ideally, the first time you breastfeed your baby will be within the first hour of their life. For a first time mother, a great way to learn about breastfeeding can be to take a how-to from a maternity nurse, lactation specialist, or doctor right at the hospital where you are giving birth. Most will be happy to show you what they know so you are more comfortable doing it yourself when you have to. Try to book a breastfeeding class or consultation at a reputable lactation support center near your home to give yourself the extra information you may need so you can continue nursing with confidence and enjoyment.
5. Allow Your Baby Time:Understand that every child will breastfeed at a different rate. Just because one person's child can feed in 15 minutes doesn't mean your child will. Your child might be a quick eater and be done in 10 minutes or they may take 30 minutes to truly be finished breastfeeding. There is no "one time" that it should take your baby to breastfeed. Let the baby set the pace that is right for them.
6. (If Possible) Let The Baby Sleep In Your Room:For the first year of life, most pediatricians will recommend that the child sleeps in the same room as the parents. This provides quick access when the baby needs to be fed during the night. It also saves you from stumbling down the hallway to your baby's room for a feeding every 3-4 hours during the first few months. In addition, sleep in the same room is said to help avoid SIDS...and that peace of mind may be worth it.
7. Hold Off On Pacifiers:Many very young infants can have trouble distinguishing between a pacifier and their mother's breast. Giving infants pacifiers too early can mix up their ability to sense if they are sucking on a pacifier or mom's breast. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting to give a child a pacifier till they are at least 3-4 weeks old, once breastfeeding is a well-established habit. Again, a paci at night is said to help reduce SIDS, but still avoid overuse of the paci during the day.
8. Gauge Your Child's Nourishment:Gauging your child's nourishment is easier than many mothers think. Check to ensure that your child is sucking and not just biting or nipping at your nipple. That makes it more likely that your child is actually eating rather than just chewing or gumming at the source of food. Moreover, babies should be producing about 6 wet diapers each day and should have a loose, yellow, seedy-like stool while breastfeeding. These are great gauges as to how much nourishment they are getting. Also, check for steady weight gain throughout the first year of life to ensure they are getting adequate nutrition. Keep in mind babies loose weight the first week (up to 10%), but get right back on a upward track afterwards within days 10-14 of life.
9. Eat A Healthy Diet:Ensure that while you are breastfeeding that you are eating a healthy balanced diet and drinking plenty of fluids. A healthy diet on your part will only make the milk you're providing for your baby of a higher, more nourishing quality to help them get a healthy start to life as well. Eat oatmeal, banana, avocado, smoothies, and other nutrient dense foods to boost milk supply. Stay super hydrated because without enough water you may struggle to keep up.
10. Don't Smoke/Drink Alcohol:It's recommended that you avoid smoking and consuming alcohol while you are breastfeeding as well, so none of the contaminants leak into the breast milk and/or into your baby's food.
11. Check Your Medications With Your Doctor:If you take any prescription medications, talk to your doctor to ensure these medications are safe to take before you begin breastfeeding. If they are not safe to take, determine if you can go without the medication or not. Talk to your doctor about options for feeding your child if you must continue to take the medication. Healthcare providers will be able to give you better advice on how to proceed without risking your child's health while doing it.
12. Understand Breastfeeding Can Be Exhausting:It can seem like an endless task breastfeeding your child every 3-4 hours at the beginning of their lives. However, after a few weeks, it will usually get easier to survive breastfeeding in the first month. The more you breastfeed your child, the more used to providing milk your breasts become. You will produce more milk and it will get easier after a few weeks.
13. Get Plenty of Rest:Understand how exhausting breastfeeding can be will help you gauge how much rest you will need. Getting enough rest is essential to allow your body to do the work it needs to do to nourish your baby properly.
14. If Breastfeeding is Painful See Your Doctor:
If you are finding breastfeeding a physically painful process to endure, it may be time to seek help from your doctor. Breastfeeding is not meant to be a painful process. You should not feel physical pain when nursing your child. Some discomfort can be common until you get used to breastfeeding, but pain is a sign that you need to see your doctor or IBCLC. It can be daunting at first, but a lactation specialist can work wonders for you and help you get the right latch.
15. If You Have Questions Talk To Your Doctor:If you have any breastfeeding concerns on any level, feel free to call and talk to your doctor or schedule an appointment to drop in for a visit. It's always better safe than sorry, especially for a first-time mother who is just learning how their baby feeds and what normal eating patterns are. It is worth it to get answers in order to have a long and successful nursing relationship with your baby. One that both of you are happy with!
Don't forget, every child feeds differently and will develop different eating habits. The aforementioned ideas are simply advice on what is considered within the range of normal feeding behaviors for a baby. Long as your child is gaining weight, getting good reviews from a qualified pediatrician, and is producing wet diapers and having bowel movements on a regular basis things are likely fine.
Remember, when in doubt, your pediatrician and doctor can confirm that behaviors are normal and can let you know if you should ever be concerned about any your child's eating patterns or your ability to breastfeed properly.