So you’ve decided to breastfeed your newborn is a positive one for both you as a new mother and your baby. This is also giving your newborn the healthiest start possible. A mother’s milk is the best food for a newborn having all the nutrients it needs to grow, it also contains special properties that help protect your baby from illnesses.
This article contains a run-down packed full of information a new mother needs for breastfeeding their baby.
What is Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding, also known as nursing or chestfeeding, is the process of feeding milk to an infant either directly from her breast or by pumping the milk from the breast and bottle feeding it to the infant.
It is good to know that breast milk arrives in three different stages. The most beautiful thing about nature is that it is designed for your baby’s age which makes it the perfect food for your baby from the beginning. The three stages are called: Colostrum, Transitional and Mature milk.
Colostrum: Right after giving birth, the milk won’t have arrived. Instead, you’ll be producing a thick and yellow (sometimes clear) substance that has probably leaked out of your breast during pregnancy already. The substance you’re producing is called colostrum. It is a vital blend of vitamins, minerals, and protein that also helps defend your baby against harmful bacteria and viruses.
It also stimulates your newborn to produce its own antibodies. This substance covers the inside of your newborn’s intestines that protects their immature immune system. Not only will it stimulate your baby’s first bowel movements but also reduces the risk of jaundice.
New mothers will likely be making very little colostrum but your baby won’t be needing more than a few teaspoons of this per feeding in their early days. Regular sucking from the beginning will also help stimulate the new mother’s body to help produce the next stage of her milk production within a few days.
Transitional milk: This milk production will typically come around the third or fourth day and sort of resembles milk mixed with orange juice (it may not sound very appealing to us but fortunately will taste better to your baby). This happens when your milk is first coming in and contains lower levels of protein and immunoglobulins in comparison to your colostrum but has more lactose, calories, and fat. At this stage, new mothers don’t have to worry too much about their milk production is sufficient enough for your baby as the size of their stomach is only the size of a walnut.
Mature milk: The last stage of a new mother’s milk stage varies from woman to woman but typically arrives between 10 days to 2 weeks postpartum. The mature milk is usually thin and white although can sometimes be slightly bluish. This milk is packed with all the nutrients and fats a growing baby requires.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding your baby comes with many benefits for them. One of the main ones is that breast milk contains antibodies to help your baby resist diseases. Diseases such as ear infections, lung infections, and respiratory illnesses. It also provides your baby with the nutritional balance it needs and very rarely causes any allergies.
Breast milk is also easier for your baby to digest and is less likely to vomit or have diarrhea. The best thing is, it’s free and convenient! It doesn’t need to be prepared and is always in supply for your baby.
Not only do babies benefit from breastfeeding but the new mothers as well! Breastfeeding assists in helping the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy state quicker. It also helps build bone strength to protect the mothers against bone fractures in their old age. Mothers who breastfeed also burn calories whilst doing it and helps them get back to their pre-pregnancy state quicker
How Long Should A Mother Breastfeed?
Stories are going around that it is better to do short feeds instead of longer ones to prevent soreness and cracking, but that isn’t the case. It usually doesn’t come from feeding too long but rather from getting into a less than ideal position whilst feeding.
Some sessions typically last between 20-30 minutes but that is on average and every baby is different. Your baby could take more or less time depending on their growth.
Remember to wait for your baby’s signal that they’re done feeding. They’ll usually let go of your nipple. If not, look out for the signs for example when their suck swallow pattern starts slowing down to around four sucks per one swallow.
How Often Should A Mother Breastfeed?
Newborns usually aren’t born hungry and their appetite will generally pick up around the third day and there won’t be a huge demand for breast milk at first. New mothers may have to initiate the first push and feed initially.
A newborn should have between eight to twelve feeding every day even if their demand for breast milk hasn’t heightened yet especially for the first few weeks. So on average, feeding should be every two to three hours throughout the day.
After the first few weeks, the feeding pattern for your baby will vary from baby to baby. New mothers will either need to feed their babies more often or less frequently. If your babies are the hungrier and impatient ones, new mothers will probably need to feed them every one to two hours.
A more easily satisfied baby can go up to three to four hours without feeding. For new mothers who feel that they’re constantly feeding their baby, don’t worry it’s only temporary. Once your baby gets bigger and you start to produce more milk, the breaks between the feedings will also get longer.
Something good to know is that if you have friends who are feeding their babies milk formulas, don’t be surprised to hear that their feeds are far less often. Breast milk is easily digested than formulas which will cause their tummies to empty faster and thirst for breast milk sooner.
How To Increase Breast Milk For Breastfeeding?
The moment your baby sucks on your breast, there will be hormones in your body that ‘trigger’ the breast to release the milk that has been produced. This is called the “let down” reflex where the muscles in your breast contract and move the milk through your breast ducts. The more you feed your baby, the more milk your breasts will produce.
A tip is pumping your breast between feedings as it can help new mothers increase their milk production as well. Warming your breast up before pumping can lead to an easier and more comfortable pump.
An alternative way is consuming lactation cookies. These cookies are widely available everywhere and are very easy to make too. The ingredients that are specifically used to make these cookies are believed to help aid in the new mother’s milk production.
Breastfeeding Tips and Techniques
At the beginning with every baby, it will probably take a few tries to get your baby into the right position for feeding. It is essential to know a good latch as an improper one is the most common reason out there for breast discomfort. When feeding, your baby’s mouth should cover your nipple and areola – this is so that your baby’s mouth, tongue, and lips massage the milk out of your milk glands. Most people think that babies just suck the milk out but not only will sucking cause your baby to go hungry because the glands aren’t secreting the milk out but will also cause soreness and cracking in your nipples.
Your baby should be facing your breast, with the front of their body facing yours and touching tummy to tummy. Their head should also be in line with the rest of their body to make swallowing easier. Another tip would be tickling your baby’s lip with your nipple to encourage your baby to open their mouth wide (almost in a yawn motion) for a good position. If this isn’t working, try squeezing some colostrum and milk onto their lips to get them accustomed to it.
Always let your baby take the first initiative by bringing them towards your breast once their mouth is wide open instead of pushing your breast into their mouth. Keep a firm hold on your breast until your baby has a firm grasp and is sucking well in their mouth before letting go.
A good indicator that your baby has a proper latch on your breast is when their chin and the tip of their nose are touching your breast. Their lips will be flared outwards like fish lips rather than tucked in. Be sure that they aren’t sucking on their own lower lip or tongue though. You will be able to see a strong steady suck swallow pattern and the sound of swallowing or gulping will soon follow.
Learning about how to breastfeed your baby properly before you deliver will be extremely beneficial to you once you’ve delivered. Breastfeeding classes are widely available everywhere that will teach you how to latch on tips on how to boost your milk supply. Taking the initiative to learn about breastfeeding if you’ve decided from the start will give you a head start already.
Feeding in a peaceful and quiet place until you get a hang of it is always helpful as well to ensure you can focus during the feedings. Always, always be comfortable! Whether that’s on the couch, an armchair, or in bed. If you’re sitting up, placing a pillow across your lap can often be helpful to raise your baby to a more comfortable height and also prevents any pressure on your incision if you’ve had a cesarean delivery. Remember, practice makes perfect! You may not get it on the first try, but keep trying and soon you’ll be an expert!
Also, remember to switch sides during feeding. Starting each feeding on the breast that your baby didn’t nurse at all or hasn’t drained completely. Tucking in a nursing pad or tissue into your bra will also protect against any leakage that may happen. Milk production is extremely influenced by the duration of feeding and intensity, especially during the first few weeks. Remember to never cut down on the frequent demand, cutting sessions short can affect the supply of milk supply tremendously.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you aren’t able to professionally nurse your baby on the first go. Your baby is a beginner and you are too (even if this isn’t your first baby, every baby is different). Both new mothers and babies have a lot to learn before becoming in sync with each other. Keeping your cool is very important even when you’re very overwhelmed after giving birth – it’s natural. Try to always keep calm as tension and stress can also affect your milk production.
Positions For Mother And Baby During Breastfeeding
Every mother and baby have different needs so what may work for others may not work for you and your baby. Experiment with different methods and do what works for you and your baby. Placing a rolled towel underneath your breast can often provide the support you and your baby need to help them latch on better. Your techniques and methods will probably change as your baby grows so adapting to new methods to suit both mother and baby is important.
There are different techniques that a mother can use to breastfeed with the most common ones mentioned below:
The laid-back position where your baby is resting on your baby and your head, neck, and shoulders are all supported. This is a popular position for those with a newborn where the mother is just starting to breastfeed their baby. It’s extremely comfortable for mother and baby and also helps the newborn take in the breast easily and deeply. This position can be done in bed or on the couch – just ensure you can lean back far enough so that your baby can rest completely on your body. Mothers don’t need to lift their baby with their arms as the baby’s weight is completely supported by your body.
This is another position that many mothers find help as babies latch onto their breasts easier as well. If you’ve had a C-section, this position can help protect the incision when breastfeeding. You’ll need quite a few pillows on your back and sides to support your body whilst you hold your baby. You’ll hold your baby in your arms as you lay your arm on the pillow on your side. Your baby’s neck and head will be supported with your hand with their back being supported with your forearm. Tuck your baby’s legs between your arm and body, as if carrying a football.
This position often works well for those who are having trouble with their babies latching on. Once again, you’ll be putting yourself in a comfortable position with pillows supporting your back so you won’t have to bend over your baby.
Supporting your baby with your arm propped on a pillow in a semi-upright position. Holding your baby using your opposite arm from the breast they’ll be feeding on whilst you support the baby’s neck and head with the same hand. Using the hand on the side of the breast you are feeding on to support your breast. From there, you’ll position the baby’s nose at your nipple facing you. The baby’s ear, hip, and shoulder should be in a straight line with no space left between you and your baby.
The side-lying position is a good choice for those who have had a C-section or for those that have an active baby and want to keep them away from the incision. Stretching yourself out with your baby facing you, – tummy to tummy. Be sure to use pillows to provide any back support that you and your baby will need. If you’d like to switch breasts, hold your baby against your chest, then roll onto your back and across to the other side.
The cradle hold is recommended and works best after your baby has learned to breastfeed properly and well. A chair with an armrest usually works best and using pillows to help raise your baby to your breast height. Ensure your knees are even with your hips either by using pillows under your feet or placing a stool. Cradling your baby at your breast and facing your baby’s tummy with yours and ensuring there isn’t any space between you and your baby.
Food To Avoid During Breastfeeding For Mother?
What you put into your body after giving birth during your confinement period is crucial during the first 2 to 3 weeks when your milk production is developing. If you are not following a confinement diet plan, it is important not to diet and to be following an eating plan that has an adequate amount of nutritional intake from all food groups.
It is recommended to choose and use products that have unsaturated fats and oils rather than trans fat. Also limiting any food that is salty and sweet and rather eats products that are packed more with nutrients that the new mother needs. For mothers that are breastfeeding, you will need at least 4 servings of dairy every day to boost your milk production.
When a mother’s milk production has started, keep in mind that they will need to consume a minimum of 1,800 calories a day as a diet less than that are low in vitamins, minerals, and iron and lead to low milk supply and fatigue.
We hope this guide to breastfeeding has helped new mothers and even experienced mothers learn something new with this article. Be sure to check out our other articles for tips, tricks, and informational things on all things parenthood, confinement periods, and more!