People are starting to realize the importance of breastfeeding. Some first time breastfeeding mothers, may give up in the first few weeks of breastfeeding, this is why it is imperative that you read as much information on the subject of breastfeeding, as possible, before your baby arrives.
It is also important, that you talk to other mothers who have had a successful breastfeeding experience. This is so that you can learn what to expect. Remember, breastfeeding is natural, but it is a learned skill!
Many of the nurses at the hospitals or clinics, will give advice, but have never successfully breastfed, therefore, new mothers are given incorrect breastfeeding advice.
Read more here about some of the usual breastfeeding myths.
When a mother knows what to expect during breastfeeding, she will have more confidence, which will result in a more successful breastfeeding relationship.
The first few days after your baby's birth, your breasts will contain colostrum, only between day three and five your mature milk will start flowing.
- A difficult start and no support.
- Most new mothers, endure normal breast engorgement during the first few days.
- The perception that your baby is not getting enough milk.
- Infant problems, Sucking problems, illness.
- Needing to return to work.
- Sore nipples.
- Many moms think that they, alone, struggle with breastfeeding, which is not the case. Breastfeeding is a learnt skill.
- Take a breastfeeding class if you can. They should show you how to breastfeed and this will also allow you to ask all the breastfeeding questions that you have on your mind.
- Get an early start: Try to breastfeed your baby as soon as you can, the best would be to start at least an hour after he/she is born.
- For the first few weeks, your nipples might be sore. Your breasts/nipples will get accustomed to your baby pulling and tugging on them. The first four days are usually the worst. After about two weeks, your nipples should not be painful anymore. If they are, you should check your baby's latch.
- Do you feel like your baby is not getting in enough milk? In the first few days of your baby’s life, he/she doesn’t need much milk. A newborn baby's tummy is very small, about the size of a whole, unshelled walnut! The small amount of colostrum, is all your baby needs.
- Do not supplement your baby with formula for the first few weeks! If you do, your breast milk supply will decrease. Breastfeed even though you think nothing is coming out – the reality is, the more you breastfeed, the more milk you will produce.
- You can pump, but only after every time your baby has finished breastfeeding. If you pump after every breastfeeding session, it will ensure that your breasts are empty and will increase breast milk supply.
- Do not measure the amount of milk you are producing, by measuring what you pump. Man-made pumps do not draw out breast milk like a baby does. A breast pump can be helpful to relieve engorgement when necessary, but should never replace skin to skin breastfeeding.
- What about an overactive letdown? This is when your milk squirts out and it’s too much for a baby to handle. If your breasts have an overactive letdown, all you have to do is either let the milk run out a bit when your let down occurs, or you can pump your breasts for a few seconds, or you can hand express them. More tips on this here.
- Don’t stress too much about achieving the perfect latch or breastfeeding position. If it works for you and your baby, then it does not matter how it's done! It will take time for you and your baby to figure out a way that is comfortable for you both, again, it’s a learned skill.
- Don’t let anyone tell you that you have a low milk supply. Family members might suggest that you have a low breast milk supply. The only way you will know for sure, is by checking your baby’s nappies and growth:
- The importance of breastfeeding on demand. Do not keep to a fixed breastfeeding schedule. An exception to this rule is, if your baby is younger than two weeks old and is drinking less than every two hours during the day.
- Air dry your breasts after every feeding, this will prevent them from becoming dry and cracked. Your own breast milk, rubbed into your nipples, can help to keep them soft, supple and bacteria free.
- Get enough rest. Co-sleeping is a wonderful way to get in extra sleep. I always like to suggest a bedside crib, which attaches to the side of your bed. When you wake up at night, your baby will be only an arms reach away. Read safe co-sleeping guidelines here.
- There is no need to keep count of the amount of time your baby spends on each breast, per feeding. Let your baby feed from one breast until he/she decides to pull off. You can always alternate breasts with each feeding and pump your breast, if you feel any discomfort. Leave your baby on one breast, until it is "drained"; this will ensure that he/she gets more of the fatty hindmilk. Hindmilk is richer than the watery foremilk, and will ensure less colic symptoms in your baby. Both foremilk and hindmilk serve their purpose. Read more about this here.
- Do not use a pacifier. A pacifier can disrupt your baby's need for milk.
- A supportive partner, friend or family member.
- Good, accurate information on breastfeeding.
- Having a positive outlook and attitude.
- Decide to stay away from formula.
- Invest in a good breast pump.
- Mentally prepare yourself. Your baby might need to feed every two hours and each feeding can last up to 40 minutes.
- Preparing your breasts. If you develop sensitive nipples, you can start to use pure lanolin moisturizers. This will also keep your breasts supple and keep them from drying out.
If you have flat or inverted nipples... read more about preparing yourself here.
Stock up on nursing pads. Read more on leakage.
- Back care preparation.
- Breastfeeding diet preparation.
I encourage you to read our page on the benefits of breastfeeding, not just for your baby, but for your sake too.
Other pages on "breastfeeding problems" in connection with first time breastfeeding moms
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