Breastfeeding is a learning process – a process we can learn together – but it is worth the time and dedication it takes because it helps prevent illnesses and supports babies’ growth and development.
The First Few Days
The first few days and weeks after you’ve given birth can be exhausting, especially if you’re a new mom. We recommend making breastfeeding and recovering from childbirth your priority during the first two weeks. This can help you find your rhythm and stick with breastfeeding for much longer.
It is important to know that in the first few days of life, your colostrum (the thick golden liquid that your breasts produce) provides all the nutrients your baby needs to grow. Your breastmilk will fully sustain your baby for the first six months.
Unlike formula, your breast milk adapts according to your baby’s needs and is easy to digest, even if you get sick. In fact, your body will make antibodies that go into your breastmilk, which will help your baby fight off any cold or infections.
Breastfeeding Positions & Latching
Positions: Adopting the proper breastfeeding position is very important in ensuring that your baby gets all the milk she can. Good positioning can also help prevent sore nipples.
CLUTCH OR “FOOTBALL” HOLD
Useful if you have had a C-section, or if you have large breasts, flat or inverted nipples or a strong let-down reflex. This hold is also helpful for babies who like to be in a more upright position when they feed.
Hold your baby at your side with the baby lying on their back and with their head at the level of your nipple. Support your baby’s head by placing the palm of your hand at the base of their head.
CROSS-CRADLE OR TRANSITIONAL HOLD
Useful for premature babies or babies with a weak suck because this hold gives extra head support and may help the baby stay latched.
Hold your baby along the area opposite from the breast you are using. Support your baby’s head at the base of his or her neck with the palm of your hand.
An easy, common hold that is comfortable for most mothers and babies.
Hold your baby with their head on your forearm and their body facing yours.
LAID-BACK HOLD (STRADDLE HOLD)
A more relaxed, baby-led approach.
Lie back on a pillow. Lay your baby against your body with your baby’s head just above and between your breasts. Gravity and an instinct to nurse will guide your baby to your breast. As your baby searches for your breast, support your baby’s head and shoulders but don’t force the latch.
Useful if you have had a C-section but also allows you to rest while the baby breastfeeds.
Lie on your side with your baby facing you. Pull your baby close so your baby faces your body.
Source: Office on Women’s Health
Latching: Getting your baby to “latch on” properly can take some practice. You can try different breastfeeding holds to help your baby get a good latch.
- Create a calm environment first. Recline on pillows or other comfortable area. Be in a place where you can be relaxed and calm.
- Hold your baby skin-to-skin. Hold your baby, wearing only a diaper, against your bare chest. Hold the baby upright between your breasts and just enjoy your baby for a while with no thoughts of breastfeeding yet.
- Let your baby lead. If your baby is not hungry, they will stay curled up against your chest. If your baby is hungry, they will bob their head against you, try to make eye contact, and squirm around.
- Support your baby, but don’t force the latch. Support their head and shoulders as they search for your breast. Avoid the temptation to help them latch on.
- Allow your breast to hang naturally. When your baby’s chin hits your breast, the firm pressure makes them open their mouth wide and reach up and over the nipple. As they press their chin into the breast and opens their mouth, they should get a deep latch. Keep in mind that your baby can breathe at the breast. The nostrils flare to allow air in.
For more tips, visit: Office on Women’s Health
Breast milk meets all your baby’s needs for about the first 6 months of life. Between 6 and 12 months of age, your baby will learn about new tastes and textures with healthy solid food, but breast milk should still be an important source of nutrition.
Breast Milk Production:
Many mothers worry about making enough milk to feed their babies. Some women worry that their small breast size will make it harder to feed their babies enough milk. But women of all sizes can make plenty of milk for their baby. The more often your baby breastfeeds, the more milk your breasts will make.
Your baby’s weight should double in the first few months. Because babies’ tummies are small, they need many feedings to grow and be healthy. You can tell if your baby is getting enough milk by the number of wet diapers he has in a day and if he is gaining weight.
Need More Help?
Choosing to breastfeed is the natural way to feed your infant, but it can be challenging. If you need help, you can call the National Breastfeeding Helpline at 800-994-9662 or get help on-line at http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeedingExternal