The new mom’s guide to breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things there is, but getting it right may take time. A lot of new moms don’t know what to expect before their first time. However, it is best to always give it a try. Breastfeeding provides a number of benefits for you and your baby, but it is a process that needs to be learned. We’ve assembled some helpful tips for new moms on breastfeeding and increasing lactation.

You will go through an adjustment period

Breastfeeding may hurt initially, for a number of reasons – like your baby isn’t latching on correctly, or you could be suffering from sore nipples. Before your baby is born, read up as much as you can about nursing positions. If you find your baby to be latching on incorrectly, merely slide your little finger between your baby’s gums to break the suction and reposition him or her.

It takes time before you begin lactating

When you’re pregnant, your body produces colostrum, a syrupy, pre-milk and nutrient-rich substance that is an essential source of antibodies for your baby’s immune system. After two to three days, your body will automatically start producing milk; it may take five to six days for some moms, which is completely normal as well. Be patient and don’t switch to formula immediately. The first two weeks of your baby’s life is crucial, and he or she needs to be breastfed to kick-start their immune system and promote overall growth, development, and health.

Bear in mind that newborns nurse a lot

There is no fixed schedule when it comes to breastfeeding. Your newborn will constantly be hungry, and it is normal to breastfeed between 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. Frequent breastfeeding comes with plenty of benefits. It helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and enables you to lose those pregnancy pounds. Breastfeeding is known to burn up to 500 calories every time you nurse. With every feed, your body will slowly fall into sync with your baby’s hunger pangs. It may take anywhere from two weeks to a month, but soon you will fall into a seamless cycle.

Get comfortable

Nursing usually takes about 40 minutes per session, particularly in the first few months. It would do you good to find a comfortable position for the duration. Hold your baby in such a way that it does not give you a backache. Ideally, you should support your baby’s head with your hand and turn his or her body towards your chest. However, this is not standard practice. With time, you will naturally find a position that works for both you and your newborn. If you’re sitting down, get yourself a footstool. If you’re lying down, be sure to get both you and your baby in a comfortable position before nursing as it can take a while.

Is your baby getting enough milk?

One of the challenges in breastfeeding is that there is no way of knowing how much milk your baby is getting. It’s a natural cause to worry particularly if you feel like your baby is constantly hungry and needs to nurse every few hours. How much milk you lactate does not have anything to do with how much milk your baby is getting. As long as your baby is making five to six wet diapers a day, you can be rest assured.

Increasing milk supply

When your baby is born, his or her stomach is the size of an egg. This means they can’t consume too much food or breast milk in one feeding session. But breastfeeding works on a supply-and-demand basis. The longer you nurse, the more milk your body will produce. As you keep nursing through your baby’s growth spurt, your body will automatically produce more milk to keep up with your baby’s nutritional needs.

Tend to sore nipples

Some women can suffer from chaffed, sore or cracked nipples. If this happens to you, don’t worry too much as it is perfectly normal after hours of nursing. Your own breast milk is the best remedy. Just rub it over your nipples to prevent excessive dryness and chaffing. An age-old remedy is lanolin cream or even olive oil to soothe your nipples. You can also use Vaseline or any other petroleum jelly, but remember to wipe it off before feeding your baby. Lanolin is safer as you don’t need to wipe it off and it does not cause any problems if it enters your baby’s mouth.

Invest in proper nursing apparel

Whether you’re at home or out in public with your baby, use reliable products to make nursing easier for you. Today, there are a number of nursing products like nursing bras, nursing pillows, shawls and cover-ups. You can also check out our collection of burp cloths that double up as bibs. Nipple pads or shields are also another convenient product to use, especially if you need to step out or have to return to work. Because your body is in sync with your baby’s feed cycle, you will start lactating. But if you’re away from your baby, nipple shields will prevent you from leaking through your clothes.

Don’t be afraid of using a pump

For working moms, breast pumps are a real blessing. When you need to return to work, but don’t want to start your baby on formula, expressing milk is the way to go. A lot of mothers may be apprehensive to use a pump, but once you get over your initial discomfort, you will realise how easy they make your life. Whether you prefer a manual pump or an electronic one, the sooner you get accustomed to expressing milk, the better. This way you can focus on work knowing your baby’s feed is taken care of.

Eat well and hydrate

With breastfeeding, your baby will get all the nutrients he or she requires, but that will leave you with nothing. Many mothers have noticed they feel light-headed after nursing. To counter this, make sure you eat a balanced diet and consume enough calories. Green leafy vegetables and healthy proteins won’t just keep you healthy; they will positively affect the quality of your milk thereby making your baby healthy too. Drink plenty of water while breastfeeding as lack of hydration will cause your milk production to dwindle.

Be positive about your breastfeeding experience. You and your baby are a team and will learn new things together every day. To make this experience a little more comfortable for both of you, head over to Little West Street for adorable and practical baby products. You can also check out our blog on unique gifts for new moms