Breastfeeding is natural. It is the way that the body was designed to care for an infant. The mother gets as much benefit from it as the baby does. The mother’s body heals for child birth faster, the baby weight comes off faster, and the mother’s mood is balanced better. The baby receives more than just a full belly from nursing. They get more of immunity. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Just because it is natural, doesn’t mean that it is easy. In fact, no matter what you try it can hurt. Just don’t give up; the rewards are worth the hard work.
Remember that your baby is new at this too. It is a learning process for you both. Feed your baby as soon as they start showing hunger signs after birth. Don’t wait for them to start crying, this will mean they are too hungry to properly latch on. Cradle your baby close to you.
Make sure that your baby’s mouth is completely open before you offer the breast. When you put your baby to the breast, make sure the entire nipple goes into your baby’s mouth. The entire nipple and part of the areola, the darker part, should be in the baby’s mouth. This is a proper latch. If you do not latch the baby on properly, you will end up with sore nipples.
Remember that a newborn’s stomach is the size of a cherry. That means that the baby will not be able to eat much at one sitting. A newborn will eat every 20 – 30 minutes for about 10- 20 minutes at a time. A lot of breastfeeding moms feel like all they do is breastfed for the first few weeks. You will probably want to invest in lanolin. Lanolin is safe to use on your nipples after each feeding and will not need to wipe off before nursing.
If you are interested in pumping, like many women are nowadays, you should just make sure that you buy a quality pump.
Once you get established
After about the first six weeks, your baby will be in a regular pattern of breastfeeding. They will be able to go a couple of hours without breastfeeding. While you probably still not getting a good’s night rest, your baby should be able to go 3-4 hours at night without having to nurse.
You shouldn’t have to modify your diet a whole lot while you are breastfeeding. Alcohol can pass through the breastmilk so it should be avoided. You may find that certain foods, usually spicy ones, can cause the baby to be fussy or hard to deal with. Caffeine can also pass through the breastmilk. If you find that your baby is having trouble sleeping, try cutting back the amount of caffeine that you drink.
Around four months of age, the baby will start on a regular sleep cycle. This means that your baby will be able to go a full night without having to get up to nurse. Every baby works on their own time line so this is just a guideline. At four months, a baby is ready to start eating baby
cereal. Introducing baby food will mean that the baby will nurse less. This can begin to decrease your milk supply, but as long as you are nursing every time your baby wants to, you will have plenty of milk.
As your baby goes through growth spurts and milestone developments, your breastmilk will change with them. Your body responds to the messages sent out in the baby’s saliva. Your body will adjust the breast milk accordingly. That means if your baby is coming down with a cold your body will send out extra antibodies that your baby needs to get better faster. The calories change as your body adjusts to what your baby needs.
Going back to work
For a lot of moms, going back to work means that they will need to pump. Pumping regularly will not affect your milk supply, if done on a regular basis. Nurse your baby straight from the breast whenever you can. The type of pump that you use can also affect your milk supply. An electric pump will help you get the amount of milk that you need. More regular you pump more milk you will get. Your body is on a supply and demand system. The more milk you pump, or the more that you nurse, the more milk that your body will make.
The art of breastfeeding will come naturally if you just give it time. Even if it is not easy at first, don’t give up. You will find that you will bond with your baby in a way you never thought possible. This is such a little window in you and your baby’s life, in no time at all you will long for the days when you snuggled up and held your baby while they nursed.
- This is a guest post