Breastfeeding a newborn baby is a fulltime job for most of us. In addition, we need food, water, rest and understanding from our surroundings. Stress will reduce hormones needed for this delicate task. We need to honor and respect the wonderful process of breastfeeding that our body is capable of.
Here are some top tips on breastfeeding your newborn, written by Midwife Åsa.
Wait for your baby’s cue! Your baby will show you specific signs when it is hungry. One sign can be sucking on the hands. Another sign may be that your baby turns its head to the same side you’re stroking its cheek. Some babies may seem a bit irritated when hungry and others may flat out scream if you don’t read and act on the cues early enough. Remember, a baby who is really upset can be quite difficult to calm down so try to be a bit ahead of that phase.
Relax, you are doing a wonderful job!
It’s very important that you yourself feel as relaxed as possible during feedings. The more relaxed you are, the calmer the baby will be too. The milk will also release easier from your breast glands if you’re relaxed. Tension will do the opposite. Try to get into a comfortable position either sitting up or lying down. I suggest you use the nursing pillow from bbhugme to help you find that sweet, relaxing position. The purpose of a great nursing pillow is to give both you and your baby the support you need to avoid unnecessary tension, especially in the neck and shoulder area.
Tummy to tummy
Place your baby with its tummy towards your tummy. Line the baby’s mouth up in the same direction as your nipple points and make sure the baby bends its neck a little backwards. If the baby’s chin is tucked down it will be impossible to swallow. Just try for yourself. Don’t let the baby grab your nipple until it’s mouth is well opened and actively searching for your breast. The baby should take in as much of the areola as possible for a proper deep latch. If the baby is latched on properly you should not feel the nipple being pulled in either directions.
How will you know that you have enough milk? Well, you won’t really. Trust the baby to guide you in both frequency and duration of feedings, and feed on demand even if that means quite frequent feedings. This is true especially in the first weeks or months. Pay attention to if you can hear the baby swallow and look for its temples and lower jaw to move rhythmically. These are signs that the baby is feeding well. After a while your breasts and your baby will come to an agreement on how much milk your body should produce. This is also the same regarding twins. Also, know that the size of a breast is completely irrelevant in regard to how much milk it can produce. Small breasts are just as good milk-factories as larger breasts.
A baby’s sucking reflex can feel quite demanding and painful at times. Especially in the beginning. However, try not to worry. After some time your nipples will get used to this intense attention, - typically after a week or two. Fair skinned nipples tend to be a bit more sensitive than darker skinned nipples. You can take care of your nipples between feedings by moisturizing with either breastmilk or nipple cream.
It is quite common in the beginning to get small amounts of blood coming from the nipples. This is usually due to minor cracks and tears in the skin. Airing out the breast in between feedings can help in preventing excessive soreness. Don’t worry if the baby gets some of this blood in its mouth with the milk, - it is not harmful. Expect there to be some discomfort or slight pain involved with breastfeeding the first week or so as your nipples toughens up, but if you are in severe pain, or your nipples get severely cracked, make sure to seek out help sooner rather than later. This may be an indication that your baby has other underlying issues causing an improper latch. Breastfeeding can be hard work, but it is usually very practical as well as rewarding. So, don’t give up if there are some bumps in the road.
About Midwife Åsa:
Åsa has more than 25 years of experience as a midwife. She has broad experience in prenatal care, births care, contraceptive health, women’s health and she has also been certified in Shiatsu massage for pregnant women as well as baby massage. Åsa has worked in both larger and smaller delivery wards, she’s been employed as senior midwife in private practice and has also run her own private midwifery practice.