Mothers are encouraged to give breastfeeding a try. The milk your child gets from you contains essentials that help ward off diseases. Not only does nursing help your baby, but it is also beneficial for you, such as:
- helping the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size
- reducing post-delivery bleeding
- limiting risk of postpartum depression, as well as breast and ovarian cancer
- making it easier to shed pregnancy weight
- saving money by not having to make formula
Although breastfeeding is clearly important, not every first-time mother will get things right on the first try. Thankfully, there are some things you can try be successful as a nursing mother.
As important as it is to breastfeed your child, it is also equally important to know the basics behind it. Feeding your baby can be done right at your breasts or pumping the milk into a feeding bottle.
Breastfeeding is recommended for at least a year or even longer. Your baby needs breast milk as its food source up to six months of age. In other words, your child can’t have baby food, juice, or water just yet. However, there are some children who can start eating solid foods by four or five months.
You will be feeding your baby less breast milk when they start eating other kinds of food. But even if that’s the case, the process of breastfeeding should continue for as long as you and your child want it to. Your baby will still get benefits past the first year of breastfeeding.
There are benefits to breastfeeding your child, including:
- reduced risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- lowered risk for different infections and allergies
- protection from some health problems, such as asthma, diabetes, eczema, and obesity
As mentioned earlier, breastfeeding also has benefits for you. While feeding breast milk to your child is essential, not all mothers can breastfeed, especially those who are HIV positive or have active tuberculosis. On the other hand, mothers who have health problems like diabetes or have had breast surgery can still breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is a skill you will get better at as time goes by. The first two weeks will be the hardest, but the key is never to give up. You can always seek the help of doctors, nurses, lactation, specialists if things aren’t going as planned. Plus, there’s the wisdom from family, friends, and breastfeeding support groups.
It is advisable to learn about breastfeeding before your baby is born. Yes, there is a huge difference between reading and practical application, but knowing some things about the process can be a huge help.
Purchasing breastfeeding equipment, such as breast pads, breast pumps, nipple cream, and nursing bras can help make breastfeeding easier. Extra pillows are handy as well.
Breastfeeding can be a challenging process. Here are some tips to help you out:
1. Make sure you’re in a comfortable position.
Feeding takes a while so surround yourself with lots of pillows.
2. Bring your child close to your breast.
This offers much more comfort than bringing your breast to your baby. Use one hand to support the baby’s head while the other supports your breast.
Encourage your child to open their mouth by tickling their lower lip with your nipple. Check if your baby is sucking and swallowing.
3. Let your child dictate the breastfeeding pace.
Your newborn needs to be fed every two to three hours for the first few weeks. Look out for signs of hunger, such as lip movements, restlessness, stirring, and sucking motions.
Let your child nurse from one breast until it feels soft. Burp the baby then offer the other breast. A still hungry child will suck on the teat, otherwise, offer the second breast for the next feeding.
You can also pump your other breast if your baby only nurses from one during the first few weeks. Doing so relieves your breast of pressure as well as protects the supply of milk.
4. Bring your baby into your room for sleeping.
It is recommended for babies to sleep in the same room as their parents for at least six months or until their first year. Doing so lowers the risk of SIDS as well as makes feeding a lot easier.
Although they are sleeping in the same room, they shouldn’t sleep in the same bed. You cannot risk suffocating your child by accidentally rolling over them.
To avoid such problems, make sure they have a crib or bassinette of their own; if not, any surface designed for infants will do.
5. Introduce the pacifier after breastfeeding has been established.
A pacifier is a lot different from a breast. Giving your child one before establishing a breastfeeding routine interferes with the process.
Try to wait until three to four weeks after birth to introduce a pacifier.
6. Observe changes in your breasts and your baby.
A successful breastfeeding involves your child sucking; it shouldn’t feel like your child is pinching or biting your nipple. Your breasts will also feel softer and emptier after feeding.
Your child will also gain weight after the continued breastfeeding process. Their stools will also look loose, seedy, and yellow. Plus, they will need around six wet diapers a day.
7. Look after your nipples.
Allow the milk to dry naturally on your nipple after each feeding because it has a soothing effect. You can also pat your nipple dry if you have to be somewhere else.
Use bra pads to prevent leaks between feedings. Keep in mind to change them often.
When you take a bath, make sure not to let a significant amount of soap, shampoo, or any other cleanser get into contact with your nipples. In case your nipples are dry or cracked, use lanolin after each breastfeeding session to soothe your nipples and help maintain moisture.
8. Ensure a healthy lifestyle.
It is important to keep fit while pregnant, but fitness measures should also be carried over after birth. Make sure to subscribe to a healthy diet, drink lots of water, and get as much rest as you can.
Breastfeeding is a challenging process, one that takes a lot of your time. It can be tiring one as well. But you shouldn’t get discouraged and you can always ask for help when things aren’t progressing as expected.