It’s no secret – breastfeeding your baby can be challenging. Don’t feel bad if you think that nursing is not coming naturally to you; a lot of women feel the same. It’s actually normal to experience some difficulties when it comes to breastfeeding.
It’s perfectly fine to admit that you may need some help. The good news is that while nursing comes with challenges, these challenges are possible to overcome.
Breastfeeding, just like pregnancy, is a very important moment in your life. During this time, you will be spending a lot of time with your newborn baby, creating an unbreakable bond between the two of you. Make the most out of this phase and learn how to breastfeed successfully and without stress with these tips.
1. Before your due date, start putting together a breastfeeding station.
Take advantage of your nesting period, when you’re itching to get everything in place in preparation for your baby’s arrival! Aside from preparing your baby’s nursery (LINK), you can also start putting together what we may call your very own breastfeeding station.
There’s no rule when It comes to setting up your breastfeeding station except, perhaps, to make it as comfortable as possible. Place a cozy armchair in it and some soft baby blankets to keep you warm. Add your nursing pillow, a couple of cushions, and a table for your phone, books, and refreshment. You can also place a small basket containing breast pads and nipple cream.
2. After giving birth, begin to nurse your baby as soon as you can.
Upon giving birth, try to start breastfeeding as soon as possible. The first milk your breasts produce is called “colostrum,” which is very rich in nutrients and antibodies that build your newborn baby’s immune system. It’s important to not miss out on feeding your baby with this liquid gold.
Don’t worry if you think you’re producing little colostrum. In reality, your newborn only needs a few drops of milk at a time.
Aside from not missing out on the magic of colostrum, nursing your baby as early as possible will help the two of you bond. Maintain skin to skin contact while feeding your baby to help them stay warm and feel secure. This will also help you recover faster.
3. Practice the proper latch with your newborn baby.
Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt that much! When your baby has latched on to your breasts properly, you will not feel a pinching, burning sensation. Instead, you will feel a gentle pressure from deep inside your breasts, signifying that your baby is feeding successfully.
It is important to practice the right latch from the first time you breastfeed. According to the Office on Women’s Health, these are the signs of a good latch:
- Your baby’s mouth will be filled with breast.
- You see little or no areola.
- Your baby’s chest rests against you comfortably.
- Your baby’s tongue will be cupped under the breast.
- Your baby’s lips turn outward and not inward.
- Your baby’s chin touches your breast.
- Your baby’s ears slightly “wiggle.”
4. Breastfeed on demand.
For a stress-free breastfeeding experience, do not time your feedings! Learn how to understand your baby’s hunger cues. These include rooting, restlessness, sucking, and licking. It’s much less stressful than watching the clock like a hawk.
Your baby will also be happier if you follow their cues. Because your milk is easily digested, breastfed babies need to eat a lot more often. So if you go by the clock instead of feeding them on demand, you might actually be feeding them less than what they need.
Also, some babies feed voraciously, while some prefer to take their time, so don’t count the minutes. Simply feed your baby until they stop.
5. The more often you breastfeed, the more milk you produce.
If you’re worried about your milk production, the solution is really quite simple: feed your baby frequently! You can also try eating galactagogues or foods that trigger milk production, but the easiest and most effective way is to just keep nursing.
When you breastfeed on demand, it’s easy to track, for example, how much longer your baby is feeding this month than last. There are also times when your baby’s intake is much higher than usual; we can attribute these to “growth spurts.” As long as you keep on nursing your baby, your body will work to meet the increased demand for milk.
6. Wear clothes that are easily accessible from the front.
Your baby may be spending a lot of time on your breasts especially if you made the decision to exclusively breastfeed. This means that your wardrobe needs to take some adjustments. If you want to, you can buy clothes that are especially made for nursing; however, you don’t actually need to do this.
Instead, you can just opt to wear buttoned shirts or zipped blouses for easy access. If you want to keep your body covered when you’re breastfeeding in public, you can also wear a shirt over a camisole. Just pull the shirt up and pull the camisole underneath down.
7. If possible, co-sleep.
Breastfeeding your baby can be a lot easier if both of you are sleeping in one room – even better if you are sleeping in one bed. Aside from decreasing the risk of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, co-sleeping also makes it more convenient for you to nurse at night.
It’s also easier to maintain on-demand breastfeeding when you are co-sleeping. You don’t have to get up when your baby asks for milk; in fact, once you get the hang of it, you can even stay asleep while nursing! Yes, sleeping through the night is achievable with co-sleeping.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other people.
Everyone has her own unique mothering experience. But one thing is for sure: to parent successfully, it is essential to know when and how to ask for help from other people. Breastfeeding, for example, becomes easier and even more effective when you get some much needed help.
When you’re still learning the ropes of breastfeeding, you can seek the guidance of a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding counsellor. You may get the advice of your doctor when it comes to supplements, too. Joining parenting support groups are also a great way to know like minded people who are going through the same experiences as you.
9. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
The best way to nurse and nurture a healthy child is to be a healthy parent. We know it’s no easy feat, but even when you’re busy taking care of your newborn baby, don’t forget to take care of yourself, too!
To breastfeed successfully and healthily, always eat a healthy diet. Did you know that your body uses up 200-500 calories a day when you’re breastfeeding? So don’t forget to eat complete and balanced meals! You also need to sleep well and rest whenever you can.
Breastfeeding is a special period. For now, it may seem to take up a lot of your time and energy, but remember that the days are long but the years are short. Make the most out of it and enjoy the experience!