When the baby is born, it is recommended that she be breastfed at the first available opportunity. That time is up to you and your doctor and is usually as soon as you and the baby are declared fit after your delivery. When your baby breastfeeds, she is ingesting colostrum (a clearish fluid laden with proteins and immunities). This fluid aids in preparing the digestive track for the mother’s milk and eventually solid foods.
Use pillows for support. Have baby turned toward you with the head in the crook of your arm. Baby’s face, abdomen and knees should all be towards you. With the opposite hand, hold your breast with all your fingers under the breast and your thumb on top. The entire hand should be behind the areola (dark portion of breast, behind the nipple). You will need to hold your breast while feeding.
Offering the Breast/Rooting Reflex
Move your breast gently, up and down. Keep “tickling” baby’s lips and cheek which is towards you with your nipple until the baby’s mouth opens wide. Centre your nipple to baby’s open mouth and pull baby in close. Roll the baby towards your breast. Do not push the baby’s face with a hand on the opposite cheek. The baby has a rooting reflex and will turn away from your breast towards your finger. Baby’s mouth should cover most of the areola, not just the nipple. As the baby nurses, you should feel a pulling or tugging sensation. If it pinches or hurts, break the latch and begin again. The tip of baby’s nose should touch your breast. If baby’s nose is not visible, raise baby’s bottom half to a more level position or lift up on your breast slightly.
The latch is extremely important. Just a few minutes of nipple nursing will bring days of irritation. So if it doesn’t feel like you’re getting it right, disengage and try again. Don’t be disheartened if you and your baby take a while to get used to the feeding. Both of you are learning new skills.
When suckling and swallowing slows or stops, burp the baby and offer the opposite breast. Baby may not take both breasts at each feeding. Baby needs a minimum of 10 minutes of work per feeding. Take the baby off the breast by inserting your finger between baby’s gums and pulling downward to break the suction. Another cause for irritated nipples is improperly disengaging. Instead of pulling the nipple from the baby’s mouth, first insert a finger between her lip and your breast to release the suction.
If you should find yourself with sore or cracked nipples, try to take a few days without breast pads and just let your milk leak. Breast milk has some incredible healing properties and actually acts as a conditioner for the areola and nipple. In fact, it’s a good idea to plan on not wearing a bra for the first few days after your milk has come in.
What to watch for?
Good output of both stool and urine shows good milk intake. Count number of wet diapers and stools daily. By 5 days of age the entirely breastfed baby should have a minimum of 6 to 8 wet diapers and several yellow stools in a 24 hour period. Stools will become less frequent around 6 weeks of age but baby should continue to pass urine about 6 times a day.
Long-term breastfeeding can be achieved only as long as you and your infant remain comfortable. Changing feeding positions is a good way to enable this.
Other important points to remember
Nourish yourself adequately.
Drink enough fluids so that the flow of milk is good.
Continue your iron and calcium supplements.
Feed your baby every 3 hours or so or more frequently if your baby demands.
Try to feed more in the daytime to inculcate a good night sleep pattern.
By about a month your baby may sleep upto 5-6 hours at a time and you need not wake the baby for a feed. Feed if the baby gets up on her own.
Remember, successful breastfeeding does take practice. You can’t expect to be a pro the first go around, but with a little persistence, you will be offering your infant the first step to healthy life and the benefits will be felt by her for the rest of her life.
There are three basic positions to try. The first is the cradle position, cradling the infant in your arms. The second position is the football feed. This position is obtained by sitting upright, with a pile of pillows to your side. The baby is inverted and resting on the pillows so that her legs point toward your elbow and her head meets your nipple. Lastly is the side-lying position. This is often the most comfortable and convenient to put baby to sleep. While lying on your side, lay the baby on her side facing you. Prop yourselves up with lots of pillows and relax.
At the end of the first week you’ll know that your newborn is getting enough milk if she has six to eight wet diapers and three to five dirty diapers a day. If you are at all concerned, meet with your pediatrician or find a certified lactation nurse to help guide you.
How to establish breast feeding?
Breastfeeding is the natural, physiologic way of feeding infants and young children milk, and human milk is the milk made specifically for human infants. Formulas are not a real substitute and its important to establish and maintain exclusive breast feeding for 4 months at least. A good start helps to assure breastfeeding is a happy experience for both mother and baby.
The vast majority of mothers are perfectly capable of breastfeeding their babies exclusively for four to six months. In fact, most mothers produce more than enough milk.
The trick to breastfeeding is getting the baby to latch on well. A baby who latches on well, gets milk well. A baby who latches on poorly has difficulty getting milk, especially if the supply is low. A poor latch is similar to giving a baby a bottle with a nipple hole which is too small; the bottle is full of milk, but the baby will not get much. When a baby is latching on poorly, he may also cause the mother nipple pain. And if he does not get milk well, he will usually stay on the breast for long periods, thus aggravating the pain. Here are a few ways breastfeeding can be made easy:
The baby should be at the breast immediately after birth
The vast majority of newborns can be put to breast within minutes of birth. Indeed, research has shown that, given the chance, babies only minutes old will often crawl up to the breast from the mother’s abdomen, and start breastfeeding all by themselves. This process may take up to an hour or longer, but the mother and baby should be given this time together to start learning about each other. Babies who “self-attach” run into far fewer breastfeeding problems. This process does not take any effort on the mother’s part, and the excuse that it cannot be done because the mother is tired after labour is nonsense, pure and simple. Incidentally, studies have also shown that skin to skin contact between mothers and babies keeps the baby as warm as an incubator.
The mother and baby should room in together
There is absolutely no medical reason for healthy mothers and babies to be separated from each other, even for short periods.
Artificial nipples should not be given to the baby
There seems to be some controversy about whether “nipple confusion” exists. Babies will take whatever method gives them a rapid flow of fluid and may refuse others that do not. Thus, in the first few days, when the mother is producing only a little milk (as nature intended), and the baby gets a bottle (as nature intended?) from which he gets rapid flow, he will tend to prefer the rapid flow method. This leads to ‘nipple confusion’ and the baby would later never like to go back to the breast.
No restriction on length or frequency of breast feeds
Your baby may be put to your breast as often and for as long as your baby wants.
Alternatives to direct breast feeding
If you do finally have a real difficulty in breast feeding, expressed breast milk feeding before going directly to formula feeds is advised. This is a safe and easy alternative by which your baby will still benefit from your milk.
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