Your entire reality has changed now that you are a mom. You are exhausted most of the time and constantly learning new things, while trying to retain your sanity. Breastfeeding is new to you and your baby. Both of you are on this learning journey together. It might be challenging in the beginning. But a little knowledge and some tricks will help you get there.
The liquid gold:
“Human milk is the ice-cream, penicillin and the elixir for the baby!”
Colostrum is the first milk your baby gets when you start breastfeeding. It is a high protein antibody rich liquid that your body produces for your new born. It’s called liquid gold because it is the perfect first food for your new-born.
Did you know your breast milk is not always white?
Watch this video to know more about the different colors of breast milk.
How long can you breastfeed?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months.*
In the second half of the year, while introducing complimentary food, continue breast feeding, at least 4-6 times in 24 hours including night feeding. It can be continued until two years and beyond depending on you and your baby’s choice.
TIPS AND TRICKS TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH BREASTFEEDING!
We know breastfeeding is not an easy feat and we have rounded up best tips and solutions for you.
1. FIRST WEEK OF BREASTFEEDING:
In the first few weeks your baby feeds as much as 2-3 hours (i.e. 8-12 times a day), 10 to 15 minutes on each breast.*
But hey! Don’t count minutes. Allow the baby to let go on it’s own.
“Do not use pacifiers in the first week”. I know it can be super tempting to start a pacifier right away to make time for you. But take it slow as the first week is so precious and without one, you could have more success with breastfeeding in the long run.
2. The power of cuddles!
“A new born has only 3 demands. The warmth in the arm of it’s mother, food from her breasts and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breast feeding satisfies all three.”
-Grantly Dick-Read (British obstetrician and leading advocate of natural child birth.)
Initiate breastfeeding as early as possible for your new-borns (including those born by caesarean section). Skin-to –skin contact between you and your little one should be encouraged by ‘bedding in the mother and the baby pair’. This helps you to produce more milk and breastfeed more successfully by balancing out the hormones that regulate lactation.
Keep your baby warm by the Kangaroo Mother Care which will stabilize your baby’s heart rate and breathing. It decreases the crying, helps gain weight and sleeping time.
What about the dads? We are not leaving them alone. They can practice skin-to-skin contact with the baby which creates an intimacy between them too. So snuggle up with your baby and relish your parenthood.
3. Baby should be fed on cues:
Understanding the language of your baby is important to know their needs. The early feeding cues includes sucking movements and sounds, hand to mouth movements, rapid eye movements, soft cooing / sighing sounds, lip smacking, fist clenching and flexing movements, restlessness, etc.
It is not always the cry! Crying is the last sign and may interfere with successful feeding.
4. Being equipped is the key:
- Some preparation makes the learning curve easier. The last month of your pregnancy would be ideal for the research.
- Talk to your gynecologists about the challenges ahead.
- Stock-up supplies like nursing bras and clothes, nursing pillow and chair. Nesting space is where you will be spending a lot of time. So make sure it is comfortable and to your liking. You can only guess the importance of a nursing pad. They shield you from the leaks.
- Sign-up for classes to learn about breastfeeding from experts.
- You can even take extra help from tracking devices.
5. Nailing “the latch”:
Help your baby. Hold the baby close and point your nipple at her upper lip. You will see your baby open the mouth wider and lift the head to latch on deeply.
Make sure the baby’s mouth is open wide enough to cover the areola and not just the nipple. The latter will lead to nipple soreness.
Don’t push the back of baby’s head which will make them resist. Instead, hold the nape of baby’s neck to pull them closer.
Watch this video to nail “the latch”.
6. The right position for breastfeeding:
7. Knowing your baby is getting enough milk:
- Get to know your baby’s feeding style; you can see then sucking and swallowing.
- Look for the bowel movements. In the first 4-6 weeks, the baby has 6-8 bowel movements (soft and yellowish), which then gradually reduces to once a day.
- Your baby produces 6 or more wet diapers a day.
- The baby is usually calm with open fingers.
- Your baby is gradually gaining weight.
8. Breast pumps are life-savers!
If you have nursing difficulties (or) a working mom (or) you are outside and have to nurse your baby; breast pumps are here to your rescue.
It enables the father and relatives to take part in the feeding process. It also comes in handy when you feel overwhelmed or tired.
With the pros explained, don’t rush into start pumping. Take some time to bond with the baby and start using them only after a few weeks.
9. Recommended diet while breastfeeding:
- Nourishment of the providers is very important. So dear moms, fuel your body with whole nutrient dense food. You should intake extra 300 calories per day while nursing. After all now you are eating for two! Follow a regular eating schedule and find time to snack something healthy in-between.
Stay hydrated at all times.
- Avoid caffeine as it may irritate the baby and affect it’s sleep.
- Continue your lifestyle changes made during pregnancy. Drinking while nursing is a strict ‘NO’ and so is smoking which causes respiratory illness in baby.
- In addition to a healthy diet, take certain supplements to replenish your stores of vitamins and minerals as per your doctor’s advice.
10. Involve the dads!
Sleepless nights and tiring days are part and parcel of mom life. If you are a working mom, finding a work-life balance is a humongous task.
You can take a break and seek help from the dad. Sharing the responsibilities relieves the pressure off your shoulders and helps the baby bond with the other parent as well.
It might take a little getting used to the new person as much as bottle feeding for the baby. But you will get there eventually!
11. Managing mental health:
- You may have animatedly large boobs; sometimes you might feel they don’t belong to you anymore. You might feel like a milk-making machine yourself and in addition pumping and storing gives you a dairy vibe. You might be exhausted over this full time job!
- Remember, you are not alone. Build your own team. Join virtual mom groups. They are sailing on the same boat and sharing will definitely help you laugh at your worries. But never self-impose comparison with other moms.
- Good music while nursing can help you relax.
- Practice self affirmations. They help you handle everyday like a boss!
- Normalize taking a break, so that you don’t end up breaking. If you still find it overwhelming, reach out for support from your lactation consultant.
- You can download our app Mind and Mom for a mindful pregnancy.
Mind and Mom app
12. Hurdles of breastfeeding and tips to overcome them:
Keep an eye on engorgement of breasts: They happen when your breasts are painfully full of milk and usually occur when you make more milk than your baby uses.
See the silver lining mom; it’s preventable!
Ensure that your baby feeds from both breasts and change feeding position. Empty your breasts with each feeding. You can pump the excess milk and store them for future needs. Make sure your baby is latching on and feeding well.
- Look out for Mastitis:
Mastitis is a bacterial infection which causes inflammation of the breasts. Don’t let this run you down as it can be easily cleared up with medicine. Antibiotics are the cure and take them as per doctor’s direction. The good news is, you can still nurse your baby and it is totally safe. In fact, it helps to clear up the infection.
Want to know what the experts have to say? Click here.
Hope these will help you overcome the initial challenges and make breastfeeding a piece of cake for you!
Embrace your motherhood. But know what? You can always step down and it doesn’t make you any less of a good mother.
Other moms on the labour of love:
- It has been a fairy-tale for some;
“Breastfeeding my baby is the best feeling ever. Amazing! I love every minute. The bond with my baby girl is magical. It’s been wonderful! I love the connection with my baby.
- Challenging for some;
“It’s been painful and frustrating for both of us.
This experience definitely contributed to postnatal depression. I’m trying to re-lactate my baby after he went on a nursing strike. It’s been rough.
I feel full of guilt. I don’t find it magical and constantly have formula moms telling me they’re jealous of my ability to breastfeed. My milk never came in. I felt like a failure of a mother.”
- And bitter-sweet for most!
“I agree – incredibly tough for the first couple of weeks and then lovely, easy, happy, and convenient. Still going with my 1 year old and I love it. But I loved bottle feeding my niece too – it’s all just lovely snuggles at the end of the day!!”
“Hard work is rewarding. When I think of stopping I feel a lot of guilt. With my first, it was very traumatic. She had a tongue tie. Once released, it was lovely!”
The most important thing is mama, you are not alone!