Breast milk is the best food you can feed your newborn baby for at least six months, as recommended by both the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
It is up to you whether you wish to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby, but being a new mother, you should be aware of the benefits of breastfeeding when making your decision.
First of all, breast milk has all the nutrients that a newborn baby needs to grow and stay healthy.
Breast milk promotes a healthy digestive system; strengthens the baby’s immune system; improves IQ; helps prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); protects against conditions like asthma, allergies, diabetes and obesity; and ensures healthy development in premature babies.
Not just babies, breastfeeding is good for mothers, too.
Breastfeeding helps your uterus get back to pre-pregnancy size faster. It also helps burn extra calories and you’ll get rid of that extra pregnancy weight faster. Furthermore, it reduces your risk of getting breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
It’s also well-known that breastfeeding helps you develop a bond with your newborn baby.
If you choose to breastfeed, bear in mind that it is a learned process. There are no hard and fast rules about how to do it.
However, to improve your chance of success, there are many simple tips and tricks that you can keep in mind.
Here are some important breastfeeding tips for new moms.
1. Get the Right Latch
Breastfeeding for the first time is not always easy. No matter how much you read about breastfeeding, the real experience is different.
So, when you breastfeed your baby within the first hour after delivery, do not hesitate to ask for help.
A maternity nurse or a hospital lactation consultant can show you how to position the baby to breastfeed and whether the baby is latching on correctly.
Although it may feel uncomfortable when your baby latches on, it is never painful. If it hurts badly, then you may not have the right positioning.
When you go home, surround yourself with a good support system and contact your doctor if you have ongoing trouble with breastfeeding.
2. Get Comfortable
Breastfeeding can be tiring, so you need to get yourself comfortable before nursing your baby.
If you are feeling lots of pain from giving birth, support yourself with pillows. Then, cradle your baby close to your breast. It is recommended not to lean forward to bring your breast to your baby, as it can cause pain, especially soon after delivery.
Always support your baby’s head with one hand and support your breast with the other hand. Make your baby open his mouth by tickling his lower lip with your nipple. If your baby is hungry, he or she will latch on and start sucking and swallowing in a rhythmic manner.
3. Look for Signals
Your baby will give you signals when he or she is hungry. He may root around searching for your nipple, put his hand in his mouth or look increasingly alert.
Once you see a signal, all you need to do is pick up your baby and start breastfeeding. Initially, you may have to breastfeed about 10 to 12 times a day. Some babies may need more feedings. The more often you breastfeed your baby, the more milk your breasts will produce.
As newborn babies instinctively have a heightened sense of smell, place your baby skin-to-skin. This will help your baby seek out the nipple to begin breastfeeding.
4. Feed from Both Breasts
When it comes to breastfeeding, help your baby feed from both of your breasts.
Nurse your baby from the first breast thoroughly, until the breast feels soft and lighter. Then burp your baby and offer the second breast.
If your baby is hungry, he or she will latch on to the second breast quickly. If not, start the next breastfeeding session with the second breast.
In some cases, babies prefer nursing on only one breast. If this is the case, it is important to pump the other breast to relieve pressure and ensure your milk supply.
5. Keep Yourself Hydrated
Proper hydration is key to good health, but it is even more important to drink plenty of water while breastfeeding.
The milk-making hormones help your body conserve water, so if you do not drink enough water it will not affect the fluid content or volume of your milk. However, if you are not drinking enough water, it can prevent your body from making enough milk. So, increasing hydration does not necessarily increase milk supply but decreasing it tends to decrease breast milk supply.
Also, not drinking enough water can contribute to maternal constipation, fatigue and poor concentration.
A good idea is to sip from a glass of water when nursing. Also, drink plenty of fluids like water, fresh juice and milk throughout the day to help you stay hydrated.
In general, it is recommended to drink extra 32–ounces of water while breastfeeding.
6. Eat Healthy
To ensure a good supply of breast milk, pay attention to your diet. Breast milk changes in volume and composition depending upon your diet, so choose your foods carefully.
Some healthy choices to boost milk production include barley water, milk, fennel tea as well as garlic.
You must also eat lactogenic foods, which help increase the supply of breast milk as well as its quality. Such foods include raw almonds, oatmeal, eggs, carrots, spinach and brown rice.
Also, to keep up your energy, your body needs extra calories and fluids.
7. Hold Off on a Pacifier
Avoid giving your baby a pacifier during the early months, as it might interfere with breastfeeding.
Until breastfeeding is well established, a pacifier can cause your child to stop taking your milk. This will affect their growth, as you cannot feed your baby anything solid until he or she is 6 months old.
Once your baby has settled into a breastfeeding routine, you can give him or her a pacifier at naptime or bedtime. This will help reduce the risk of SIDS.
8. Take Care of Your Nipples
After each feeding, allow some of the breast milk to dry naturally on your nipple. Breast milk has antibacterial as well as healing properties that can help prevent sore or cracked nipples.
If your breasts leak between feedings, use bra pads and change them often.
If your nipples are dry or cracked, apply coconut oil or olive oil after each feeding. Gently rub the nipples with a wet tissue before feeding your baby.
While taking a bath or shower, wash the nipples thoroughly to prevent buildup of residue.
- Ideally, at least for the first six months, the baby should sleep in the same room as the parents to make feeding easier.
- Get as much rest as possible, as taking care of a newborn baby can make you extremely tired.
- Do not smoke. It exposes your baby to nicotine, which can interfere with your baby’s sleep. Plus, it increases the chances of developing asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, and eye irritation in the baby.
- Avoid secondhand smoke also, as it increases the risk of SIDS as well as respiratory illnesses.
- Be sure to invest in some comfy nursing tanks and bras.
- You can use nipple shields to help your newborn latch properly.
- Create a breastfeeding station, so that you can nurse your baby comfortably.
- To be able to feed your child, try to reduce your stress level.
- Before taking any new medicine, nursing mothers should consult their doctor first.
- Always ask your baby’s doctor about vitamin D supplements for the baby. Breast milk may not provide enough vitamin D for your growing infant.