Posted by: Admin | May 17, 2017

Getting breastfeeding off to a good start

Breastfeeding is a natural, but learned activity. The first six weeks of life are important. During this time frame, milk production is being set and the attachment that started during pregnancy is getting consolidated.  While pregnant, it is normal to have questions about breastfeeding. You may be wondering how your life will be as a breastfeeding mother. Women around you may have had a variety of different experiences.  So, what can you as a new mother do to make sure breastfeeding gets off to a good start?

The first thing to remember is that things are much easier if you don’t do it alone. It is really helpful to build a support network. The baby’s father is the first person who will be able to help and support you. The baby’s grandmother, other family members and close friends can be helpful as well. Let your support people know you will be breastfeeding. There are many ways they can support you and bond with your baby without having to give a bottle.

Successful breastfeeding starts with the birth. If at all possible, avoid interventions. Medical interventions during labour can have an impact on breastfeeding by affecting your hormones or the baby’s reflexes.

The first hours are important. Usually babies will have their first nursing session within the first hour after birth. Holding your baby skin to skin right after birth gives him access to the breast. Also it stabilizes his temperature, heart rate and blood sugar. Being together helps both of you recover from the birth. Your baby is adapting to life outside the womb. Those first moments are for connecting and breastfeeding; weighing and measuring the baby can wait.

Offer the baby unrestricted access to the breast. Skin to skin contact can continue to be done very often during the first days and weeks. Frequent effective feedings in the first weeks will ensure that there is plenty of milk in the months to come. Milk is created by demand and supply. The more often your baby feeds, the more milk that is made.

Alternate breasts to stimulate the supply. The supply is stimulated separately in each breast. It’s a good idea to try to nurse from both breasts at each feeding during the first weeks . This helps get both breasts producing well from the start. No need to worry if you forget occasionally, things will adjust over time. As your baby grows, he may only need one breast at a time.

You need to be close to your baby to be able to respond to his feeding cues. If the baby is in another room you will not be able to see those first movements signaling that they are ready for another nursing session. Babies show they are ready for nursing by moving their heads, licking their lips, sucking on their hands, and so on.  It is much easier to feed a baby before he cries. Once your baby is crying, he will have to be calmed and comforted before a nursing session can begin. Follow the baby, not the clock. Newborn babies do not need a schedule.

Breastfeed exclusively. In the first six weeks the milk supply is being set. Any other food or liquid during this time can affect the delicate balance of demand and supply. It is recommended not to give commercial infant formula unless medically indicated.

You will also want to avoid pacifiers and bottles during the first 6 weeks. Not only can these affect your milk supply, but the baby latches on differently to an artificial nipple. This can make him latch poorly to the breast, which is a major factor in causing sore nipples.

Give yourself time. It takes time to recover from the birth, to adapt to life with a new baby, to let your baby adapt to life outside the womb. Be kind to yourself as you are learning these new skills.

Finally, it is important to remember that pain is not normal.  Many women find that there is some sensitivity or discomfort in the first few days.  However, if pain is increasing over the first few days or persists beyond the first week, get help. Your nurse or CHR should be able to give you some suggestions to improve the situation.

Although it may seem like a lot of work at first, breastfeeding can be pleasurable, empowering, and immensely gratifying. The effort to get things going well in the early days pays off. By following as many of these tips as you can, you will be making sure that you and your baby get breastfeeding off to a good start. You will be filled with confidence to help you along your breastfeeding journey.

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