As a new mom, breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby. It can also be one of the most intimidating things you set out to master. Trust us when we say, you’re not alone! Many mothers before you have gone through this process, which means there’s a wealth of information literally at your fingertips. While reading about something as vital - and intimate - as breastfeeding can never replace the actual experience, you will gain valuable tips, and the resources available might help you feel less like “You’re doing it wrong.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask If you need it, ask for help. Don’t be afraid to lean on your family, friends that have children, and your doctor. Ask questions as needed both before and right after your baby is born. The Mayo Clinic advises your baby should nurse within the first hour after birth. Ask the nursing staff or a lactation consultant for direction and advice before you start breastfeeding for the first time.
Listen to Your Baby When your baby begins nursing, he or she can take up to 20 minutes per breast. In the first few weeks, most newborns breastfeed every two to three hours throughout the day and night. As long as baby is nursing at least eight to 12 times per day, has six to eight wet diapers, and gains weight, both baby and mom are sure to get into their own feeding pattern. It won’t take long for you become familiar with the signals your baby sends when he or she is getting hungry. Some early signs of hunger include: If your baby decides to continually nurse from only one of your breasts, you can pump the other breast to relieve pressure, and conserve milk stores. However, you should consult your lactation consultant as pumping early on can interfere with milk production.
A word of caution: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends new mothers should delay introducing a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established. The timeframe varies but allow at least three to four weeks after birth.
Take Care of Yourself (This Includes Your Nipples, Too!) Making time for yourself can be one of the hardest things to incorporate into your breastfeeding routine. You shouldn’t feel selfish when you make time to eat healthy, and take care of your body. The truth is, your baby needs you to be healthy. So, make sure you get lots of rest, drink lots of fluids, eat healthy, and exercise moderately. Have a family member or significant other take care of the baby while you get some much-needed rest. And don’t forget your nipples! Nipple care is essential for successful long-term breastfeeding. There are simple methods you can employ to keep your nipples in optimal nursing health such as: ensuring proper latch, letting milk dry naturally on the breast after nursing (instead of wiping), and ensuring you break suction (try putting your little finger in your baby’s mouth) before unlatching.
Breastfeeding Takes Time If you don’t get the hang of breastfeeding right away don’t worry. Feeding a newborn every few hours is tough work. You’re going to feel tired, and it’s normal to have questions, as well as wonder if what you’re doing is exactly right. There are many different ways to manage breastfeeding – and what works well for someone else might not work as well for you and your baby. Trust your instincts and always feel free to contact your health care professional with questions or concerns. We’ve yet to find a new mom who has done everything perfectly right from the start, but be patient, and soon you and your little one will find your rhythm. What’s one tip you wish someone had shared with you before you started breastfeeding?