Aw, the joys of motherhood abound when we give birth to that precious bundle of joy, and we are ready to breastfeed and bond with our babies! We have read different articles and brochures about the benefits of breastfeeding, including losing the weight gained from pregnancy, the bonding that occurs with the baby, the healthiness of breastfeeding for the baby, and more. We even have gotten training from nurses and reading material on how to breastfeed your baby, i.e. the mechanics of it.
However, there are many valuable tips for breastfeeding a newborn that will make you and your baby’s feeding time even more special. The tips are as follows:
Tip #1: Obtaining a good latch
This might sound obvious but too many mothers give up breastfeeding because of baby getting a poor latch. With a few simple adjustments you should be able to improve the latch.
Babies must feed on more than the nipple while breastfeeding. So, we must make sure the baby has a good latch. Otherwise, mothers may feel pain due to the latch being off. Many community centers, hospitals, midwives, breastfeeding consultants can assist mothers with this issue and give them some specific advice for their particular situation.
We saw a lactation consultant for our first and it was amazing the difference that it made.
General tips for a good latch
But a few general things are:
- Make sure baby is latching on the breast, not the nipple itself. Behind the nipple is where the …… so baby will get more milk with less effort this way. It’s also much easier on your nipples!
- Shape the breast so that it easier for the baby to get a deep latch. To do this hold your breast between your thumb and fingers to flatten it out (like a sandwich). Make sure to hold the breast far enough back from the nipple (back from the areola) so that baby can get a deep latch
- Start with your baby’s nose near the nipple and aim to get the nipple towards the roof of babies mouth. Ticking the babies upper lip with the nipple can also encourage baby to open their mouth wider
- Wait until baby has a wide mouth before attempting to latch. You are teaching baby that you want a wide mouth before latching can occur.
- If you get a bad latch, don’t persevere if its painful. De-latch baby and re-latch. Baby’s tend to have pretty good suction – so it can be hard (and painful) to de-latch if you do it wrong. Placing a little finger between baby’s gums is a good way to help to get them off, painlessly.
- Stick with the Cradle position until you and baby are comfortable with the latch. This position will have you with baby side-on and their tummy should be pressed against your tummy (known as tummy-to-tummy). Make sure babies ears, shoulders and hips should form a straight line. Use a pillow that brings baby up to breast level (or your arm will fatigue after a while).
Tip #2: Get comfy by positioning
When it comes to being comfortable, we should find a comfortable place in the home to make breastfeeding time as soothing and friendly as possible for us and our precious, little bundle of joy, as well as finding an actual breastfeeding position that you both like.
By trying a few positions, mothers can find which one, two, or more positions will work well for the mom and the baby.
Once you have the latch down, then experiment with different positions. Swapping positions can also help with fatigue and sore muscles that can occur with long feeding sessions.
Tip #3. Pay more attention to the baby’s hunger cues and not the numbers
Many new moms become surprised when discovering that the child may need to be fed from eight to 12 times or even more within a 24-hour period. However, this is normal. Newborns need to be nursed more often because they have smaller stomachs, and they still have to master sucking.
Also, mothers must learn the newborn hunger cues besides the baby crying because he/she is hungry. Even though babies are so tiny and hard to communicate, there are ways to tell when newborn babies are ready to be feed. Many of the signs include them opening and closing their mouths, licking/smacking their lips, sucking their hands, getting into a nursing position, and moving their heads from side to side.
In some cases, timed feedings might be necessary if recommended by a specialist or pediatrician (possible reasons could be for damaged nipples or for babies with acid reflux – both of which we have experienced with out 2 boys!). But otherwise, feeding as your baby demands is a good way to go, if there are no other reasons to time their feeds.
Tip #4. Watching out for growth spurts
When a baby is one to three weeks old, six to eight weeks old, and three months old, he/she will encounter growth spurts that normally last for a day or two. When these growth spurts happen, the baby may want to be nursed practically all day long.
Just be aware that this is normal and try to remember these growth spurts. Knowing that the likely reason is a growth spurt and knowing that it will only last a day or two, makes it easier to deal with. If you think this is going to keep going for weeks, the thought of that itself can be exhausting.
Tip #5. Use a wrap or a carrier
For women who don’t like to nurse in public, mothers can nurse the baby by using a carrier or by using a wrap that will be discreet and easy to use.
Using a carrier is also a convenient way to feed on the go – or if your baby is a sleep in the carrier and wake up looking for a feed, you can feed the baby without removing them from the carrier and once they’re finished, they can go back to their sleep (hopefully!) with minimal disturbance.
Carriers can also be a great way to feed baby reasonably upright, for babies with reflux.
Tip #6. Sore Nipples
Having sore nipples during the first weeks of breastfeeding is common. For relief, mothers can use some soothing cream, like coconut oil or something like Lanolin.
A little soreness is normal but if they’re cracked and bleeding then it’s time to see your doctor.
Tip #7. Settling in for evening breastfeedings
Breast milk supply is at its highest peak in the morning and at the lowest point in the evening. So, mothers must plan accordingly to feed the baby in the evening since the baby normally cluster feed. Cluster feeding means they get fed more in the evening. Evening times are spectacular for snuggling and bonding more with the baby while breastfeeding.
Tip #8. Supplementing
There are situations when babies and the mom may need supplements. To make sure supplements are required, mothers should consult a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician because many pediatricians are quick to recommend supplements when supplements are not actually needed.
Sometimes, getting a better latch or coming up with a strategy for feeding times can be the difference between baby getting enough and not getting enough.
Our first born was underweight for the first couple of months of life and we were encouraged to supplement. However, the supplements didn’t do anything – at least not noticeably. Once we saw a lactation consultant the change was quick. He went from being in the 2nd percentile for weight to being in the 50th in a matter of a couple of months and then eventually into the 75th percentile. Just a few changes made to our breastfeeding strategy and technique made all the difference and we happily gave up the supplementation.
Additionally, a delay in milk production may occur during a two to three-day postpartum period. It may also be slower, especially with c-sections. Otherwise, when it comes to the mother needing supplements, mothers should consult an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
Tip #9: Ask for help
Whether its sore nipples, pain, or latch issues, mothers should also talk to our physicians, a lactation consultant, our child’s pediatrician, or a mom-to-mom support group, to assist us, especially if the problems persist.
Tip #10: Trusting ourselves
Above all else, we should trust ourselves. With our first newborn, like me, we can be nervous, and our babies can pick up our feelings of nervousness which can make the baby nervous and cry more. However, once we learn different tips, we can/will become more confident, and even our babies will become more at ease when they sense our confidence.
To make the best of breastfeeding for the mom and our special new addition to the family, the tips for breastfeeding a newborn above will absolutely go a long way.
Besides that, we, as mothers, can get all the advice in the world; however, our instincts are strong. And through it all, we must remain confident as we learn, go through, and get advice on breastfeeding and other matters concerning motherhood.