If you’ve never breastfed before, you might think it’ll come naturally to you and your newborn. Baby is hungry, you offer up your nipple, baby latches on and sucks sweetly until he’s full. Easy, right? But what’s natural isn’t necessarily always intuitive (at least at first)—for either mom or baby. But a new 30-year study found that women who breastfeed for longer than six month slashed their risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
If you want to try to stick with breastfeeding longer, look no further than this advice from breastfeeding experts and moms who’ve experienced nursing challenges to round up the best breastfeeding tips to help set you and baby up for success. (Full disclosure–I’m not a mom!)
Once baby arrives, moms are typically encouraged to start breastfeeding right away. But how will you and baby know what to do? Will he instinctively understand how to latch on? Will your milk let down? Luckily, experts at the hospital can help you both get off to a good start. Keep these important breastfeeding tips for newborns in mind:
Breastfeed right after birth
Breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, or as soon as possible, is key to setting you and baby up for future success, says Susan D. Crowe, MD, an ob-gyn and clinical associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. In fact, allowing moms and babies to have skin-to-skin contact right after delivery encourages newborns to start breastfeeding in the first 30 to 60 minutes. “That early initiation for breastfeeding is extremely important when it comes to sending signals to the brain and body to produce breast milk,” Crowe says. At the start, your body produces only a small amount of colostrum (the yellowish breast milk produced before normal lactation begins), which is all a newborn initially needs. But eventually you produce more breast milk as baby breastfeeds. Even if baby needs immediate medical attention or requires a stay in the NICU, you can still express colostrum with your hands to stimulate those breastfeeding signals.
Let others help with housework
For the first six weeks, while you’re establishing your breastfeeding, let others help out with chores around the house. “That means you shouldn’t be cooking, cleaning, doing the dishes or changing the diapers,” Crowe says. “To fully support mom’s [breastfeeding] efforts, let others do everything else for her, because nursing baby is the one thing they can’t do.” And when you’re not actively breastfeeding, focus on self-care, including eating well and getting rest. “If you invest the time initially, it’ll pay off in huge dividends later,” Crowe says.
Breastfeeding Latching Tips
Getting a good latch is one of the most important pieces of the breastfeeding puzzle—even more important than how you hold baby. To get a good latch, make sure the bottom of your areola (the area around the nipple) is in baby’s mouth and the nipple is toward the back of her mouth, where the palate is soft and flexible. Experts offer these other breastfeeding tips to help make sure baby is feeding well.
If you’ve never tried it, breastfeeding can seem like it might hurt—especially once baby’s teeth start coming in. Nursing shouldn’t actually be painful, but the experience is different for every mom. Try these top breastfeeding tips to prevent nursing discomfort in the first place, and learn how to remedy it quickly if you do have a painful run-in.
It doesn’t have to hurt
If baby has a good latch, breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful. Learning how to position your newborn and ensure a good latch can take time, but here’s what you’re aiming for: “You want to make sure baby is latched tightly to the breast so her cheeks and chin appear seamlessly attached to you. You shouldn’t be able to see her lips. And it should feel comfortable,” says Tamara Hawkins, an IBCLC-certified lactation consultant. If you experience pain, chances are baby’s latch is a little off
Don’t be afraid to take control
It’s important for you to get comfortable and confident handling a small baby. “The No. 1 reason moms have pain is because they’re being too gentle,” Hawkins says. “They don’t want to take control of baby and their breasts and bring the two together.” Trust yourself and do what needs to be done: Bring baby to your full breast, not just to your nipple.
Don’t wait to get help
Another common cause of pain during breastfeeding is an improper latch, which can actually injure the nipple. “It’s very important early on to get the help you and baby need to correct that, before the nipples are damaged,” Crowe says. Sometimes it’s a simple fix, like pulling baby’s chin down to make sure her lips are flanged outward—but other times it’s an issue of baby’s anatomy or your breast anatomy, and finding a remedy for that calls for professional help. C. Robinson, mom of a 21-month-old, was in pain and about to give up on nursing when she met with a lactation consultant who discovered her daughter had both a lip-tie and tongue-tie that prevented her from nursing properly. “That made the world of difference for both of us,” says Robinson, whose daughter underwent surgery at 4 months to correct the problem. (You can find a lactation consultant near you through the International Lactation Consultant Association website).
Read the full article of 31 Breastfeeding Tips on The Bump’s website.
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