7 tips for breastfeeding your newborn
1. Breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery
Regardless of how you deliver, whether by C-section or natural delivery, you are encouraged to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby immediately after birth. This helps stimulate milk production, regulates your baby’s temperature and strengthens the bond between the two of you. You are also encouraged to breastfeed your baby within the first hour after birth, which helps stimulate your milk supply as well. Your baby may not actively feed this first time, and instead just nuzzle and lick the nipple, but this process is important for the development of sucking reflexes.
2. Prepare for your breastfeeding session
Make sure that you’re sitting or lying comfortably. A nursing pillow or a comfortable armchair can relieve the pressure on your back and shoulders when breastfeeding.
If you had a C-section, it is usually easiest to lie on your side with your head supported by pillows and breastfeed lying down. Your baby should also lie on his or her side, with the ribcage slightly lower than your breast.
It can be practical to use a nursing bra and breast pads to absorb any leakage from your breasts. Both also help keep your breasts warm and dry. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids! It is a good idea to keep a large pitcher of water within reach. Most new moms find that breastfeeding makes them very thirsty.
Always follow the principles of tummy-to-tummy and nose-to-nipple when drawing your baby to your breast.
3. Find a good breastfeeding technique
To avoid breastfeeding pain, such as sore nipples, it’s important to make sure your baby gets a big mouthful of breast. Your baby’s body and head should be in a straight line against your breast, tummy to tummy.
You can stimulate your baby’s inborn rooting reflex by brushing your nipple against their cheek. Your baby will then turn towards your breast and begin to root and nudge. The nipple should come straight into your baby’s mouth, the baby’s lips should be slightly flared, and as much of the baby’s mouth as possible should enclose the areola.
For effective latching, always follow the principles of tummy-to-tummy and nose-to-nipple when drawing baby to your breast.
Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand, so the more you demand of your body the greater your supply.
4. Breastfeed your newborn frequently
Once you start to breastfeed, your body releases the breastfeeding hormones oxytocin and prolactin. Oxytocin is also known as the feel-good hormone; it gives you a feeling of trust, safety and calm. It also stimulates the let-down of milk from your breasts. Prolactin stimulates milk production.
Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand, so the more you demand of your body the greater your supply. It is important to recognize your baby’s feeding cues and feed on demand when your baby shows signs of hunger. This is likely to be very frequently in the first 6-8 weeks but will then start to slow out a little. Signs such as rooting with the fist or fingers in the mouth, smacking of the lips and fidgeting are all feeding cues.
5. Let breastfeeding be your peaceful time together
Try to keep breastfeeding sessions as calm and stress-free as possible, especially in the beginning before you have mastered the breastfeeding technique. Stress can reduce milk production. This is easier said than done but try to switch off your phone and keep any siblings occupied.
6. Breastfeeding a newborn takes time
All babies are different. Feeds can take anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes or longer. Let your baby decide the frequency and duration of feeding. Some babies feed quickly; others take longer and may even nap for a while during a feed. Babies are unpredictable, and each day may be different.
7. Be patient and ask for help if you need it
It can feel really stressful if you find breastfeeding difficult, but try to be patient and don’t give up too quickly. You may need a lot of support at first, so never be afraid to ask for help. Contact your doctor or lactation consultant. Sometimes all you need is a slight adjustment to your technique or some encouraging words to make everything feel easier.
Sources: babycenter.com, womenshealth.gov
This article has been reviewed by Katie Hilton, qualified midwife and health visitor, UK.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help and advice
Always contact your doctor if you suspect that you or your baby is unwell. Also, contact your doctor if you suspect that your baby isn’t getting enough milk or if you experience persistent breastfeeding pain.
If you have questions or need help and advice, contact your doctor or a lactation consultant.