Breastfeeding your newborn
Life takes a completely new turn after giving birth to a baby as you need to take care of your small bundle of joy in every way. Breastfeeding your baby is important especially in the first hour after birth as this first milk is quite nutritious and boosts the immunity of the child. In case you have undergone C-section then try to breastfeed the baby as soon as you can do so.
Breast milk has many wonderful health benefits to the baby and nursing mother however, the breastfeeding frequency may vary from one baby to the other. During the first two to four days baby will be nursing 8-12 times in 24 hours. Frequent feeding can help start and build milk supply. It is not required to plan a schedule for feeding for the baby in the first week so concentrate on breastfeeding when the baby is hungry. Here are the hunger cues that signify that your baby is hungry:
- Opening the eyes
- Turning the head when feeling something on the cheek
- Moving in sleep
- Poking the tongue out
- Stating to make sounds
- Trying to eat the hand
Crying is a late sign of hunger so try to offer feed before he/she starts crying. Once the baby starts crying, it will be harder to breastfeed. As the baby gets older the baby will feed faster and less often making breastfeeding more manageable.
Does breastfeeding hurt?
New moms will find breastfeeding hurtful during the first few days as your nipples are not used to strong and frequent sucking of the baby. It is better to learn the techniques of nursing while in the hospital as you are surrounded by experts over there. Many times you may also feel period like cramps in the first few days as your womb is contracting to its actual size due to the release of oxytocin during breastfeeding. Your breasts will feel fuller and firmer than earlier due to milk and some women even have swelling but feeding the baby regularly can help relieve the pressure.
Latching baby to your breast:
In the beginning, it might be difficult to place the baby in the right place but you need to keep on trying as improper latching may lead to breast discomfort. Hold the baby facing your breasts with baby’s body facing yours. The baby’s head should be in line with the rest of the body to make swallowing easier. Gently stroke the cheek and start feeding the baby. Listen for the sound of swallowing or gulping which signifies that the baby is latched properly.
Initially, the hospital will teach you the cradle hold but you can try other positions that work well for you and your baby. Here are a few positions:
- Cradle hold
- Crossover hold
- Football hold
- Side-lying place
- Laid-back place
Benefits of breastfeeding:
- Breastmilk is the perfect food for baby and it has immunity-boosting antibodies and healthy enzymes which protect the baby against allergies and eczema.
- Baby’s stomach is less upset and problems like diarrhoea and constipation are at bay as breast milk is easy to break down by the baby’s body.
- It reduces the risks of UTI, viruses, gastroenteritis, ear infections, respiratory infections, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- The vaccines become more effective as breastfed babies have a great antibody response to vaccines
- Protection against diseases like type 1 diabetes, spinal meningitis, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in mothers as women who breastfeed have a lesser risk of cancers in life.
- It helps you lose pregnancy weight as milk production burns 300-500 calories a day.
- While breastfeeding the baby, your uterus shrinks back to pre-pregnancy size.
- It also reduces the risk of osteoporosis in mothers.
- It helps the body heal after delivery as oxytocin released helps your uterus to contract and it also reduces post-delivery blood loss.
Problems while breastfeeding:
- Latching pain: nipples can feel sore when you start breastfeeding and if the pain lasts longer than a minute then check the positioning. In case the place is correct then your nipples may be dry so wear loose clothing and avoid using soap.
- Cracked Nipples: it can happen due to dry skin, pumping improperly or latching problems. So check the baby’s positioning and try to breastfeed the baby more often. Try over the counter lanolin cream which is specially made for nursing mothers.
- Clogged ducts: ducts can get clogged if the milk does not drain properly and you may notice a hard lump or soreness to touch and sometimes even redness so get adequate rest and apply a warm compress to the breasts.
- High milk supply: engorgement can make it difficult for the baby to latch on so hand-express a little before feeding the baby and soften the breast so that baby can latch and access milk.
- Low milk supply: frequent nursing and hands-on pumping during the day can increase milk supply so eat a better diet to enhance the milk supply.
Breastfeeding is very important for both mother and child and it should be an enjoyable process for both mother and child and if you are facing any problem, then contact your doctor for guidance.
Breastfeeding is the best way for bonding with each other