As a new parent, you are probably feeling a wide range of emotions. From happiness to nervousness, it is perfectly normal to be feeling a lot of different emotions all at once just before your new baby arrives.
Some of the "feels" you may be experiencing during the weeks leading up to your little one's birth are negative emotions associated with breastfeeding. If you have not experienced this then consider yourself lucky. Everyone has an opinion. There are women that seem so keen on sharing their nursing horror stories or reasons why it's so hard to breastfeed in public, so it is easy to become overwhelmed, confused, and even fearful or shamed when thinking about nursing your child. However, there is really no reason to feel these things. While nursing can be difficult in the first few weeks, it gets much easier as time goes on, and is absolutely well worth the initial effort.
The best way to ensure you and your child develop a positive nursing relationship and start things out of the right foot is to go in informed.
For this reason, we have put together this article on breastfeeding in the first week, which includes a small list of things you will definitely want to know. After reading this article, you should be able to head into your nursing relationship equipped and ready to address many of the initial concerns you might have.
Get a Good Latch
A good latch can make or break your nursing experience. If your little one is not latching properly, nursing will likely become painful, sometimes to the point of being unbearable. A poor latch can also lead to baby not getting enough milk and other issues such as mastitis.
In order to ensure your baby has a good latch, take a look at his or her lips. If your little one has a good latch, their lips will be flanged out, looking somewhat fish-like, and will cover or nearly cover the entire areola.
In a poor latch, you may notice curled in lips, a clicking noise, or pain when feeding your newborn. You will want to correct this issue right away. In order to do this, hold your breast in one hand and squeeze it slightly in order to make the shape of the breast better match the shape of baby's mouth. Using your other hand, tickle your nursling's cheek until they open their mouth quite wide. Use this opportunity to place the breast in your little one's mouth. If the latch still isn't right, start again. Never nurse with a poor latch.
Try to nurse in the first hour of birth (considering you are able to depending on your type of delivery). This is one of those moments that if you intend to breastfeed take advantage of this beautiful first hour to nurse baby and bond. Baby should be quick to nap soon after.
Getting that latch right may call for an IBCLC. They are one of your best friends here. Get the proper consulting with a certified specialist that can possibly truly change your breastfeeding journey. It's been heard many times that once a mom received outside and professional assistance with breastfeeding that many of their issues they were having were resolved.
Babies Nurse A Lot
Newborn babies nurse a lot more than you might expect. Because their tummies are very small, they can't hold much milk, and that means more frequent nursing sessions in order to refill their tiny bellies. You can expect your newborn to nurse at least 10-12 times a day. Pretty much around the clock.
If you feel like your baby is nursing too much, it is important to keep in mind that while it is very difficult or even impossible to nurse too much, it is very easy to nurse too little.
If your are unsure of when to nurse, start to learn baby's hunger cues. While many parents will wait until their baby cries before offering food, this isn't actually the first sign of hunger. In fact, crying is a last resort for a hungry baby. Instead of crying, you should be watching for signs such as rooting, sucking on hands, or fussing.
Sometimes baby wearing while breastfeeding or being around baby as much as it is possible for you in these early stages will help you know baby's hunger signs and cues that say "hey mama I'm hungry."
So nurse as much as needed and not only will you continue to elevate your milk supply by doing so, but both baby and mommy will have much needed happy bonding time.
Milk Doesn't Come In Right Away
When your baby is born you may not actually have much milk to offer. Colostrum has been forming in your body since about four months into pregnancy and this super power magic substance provides baby with all of the nutrients and immune support he or she needs in the first few days of life. While it will seem like a very small amount, there is no need to worry, your colostrum is just what your baby needs. It is really that amazing.
Then, at about 3 or 4 days after your baby is born your milk will come in. This may cause your breasts to feel fuller and engorged as your body learns how much milk it needs to produce. In order to relieve yourself during this period, try taking a warm bath and hand expressing some milk.
Though pumping may seem like a great way to get some relief from engorgement, it is not recommended unless you wish to continue pumping — as well as nursing — well into the future. This is because when you pump, your body takes that as a signal to make more milk, and you will find yourself with a long-lasting oversupply.
Hopefully this article helps you get through the first several days of nursing your new baby without a hitch. However, if you do experience issues, you should never hesitate to talk with a lactation consultant. Know a mom to be? Share this with her so she gets a little head start into her nursing journey.
Keep going mama! You're doing great!