It’s one of the more exciting times of life. You’re expecting or already have your new baby!
You have lots of decisions to make. One important choice is whether to breastfeed or not. Your health care clinician can explain the benefits of breastfeeding and answer questions you may have.
We recommend you take birthing and breastfeeding classes, especially if this is your first baby. You’ll get helpful guidance and be able to connect with other moms who can share their experiences.
Aurora Health Care offers a number of helpful classes. You can search for classes online. Enter the keyword: breastfeeding. Then choose the facility that’s most convenient for you.
You’ll learn that breastfeeding is natural. Baby is born with the instinct to breastfeed. And a little guidance can help you do your part well.
We have some helpful tips for an important part of breastfeeding: getting your baby latched onto your breast. Proper latching helps ensure your baby gets the nourishment she needs and that you can breastfeed comfortably.
- Dress for nursing. A nursing bra allows easy access to the breast. A button-down shirt or wrap dress also gives you quick access. Your attire should maximize skin to skin contact, which is natural for mom and baby. Contact with mom helps initiate baby’s feeding instinct. If the temperature is comfortable, all your baby needs to wear is a diaper. If it’s cool, a blanket over you both helps.
- Be comfortable. Many mothers find a reclining position works well when they first start nursing. It allows you to relax, and baby can rest across your chest and tummy. You’ll want to have good back support and maybe a footrest. A pillow under the arm holding baby can help support him during breastfeeding. If someone is with you, have them hold baby while you get situated.
- Position baby so you don’t have to lean into her. Leaning can strain your shoulder and back muscles. Baby’s mouth will be comfortably at your nipple and her nose free to breath. Baby should be able to sink her chin into your breast and take most of the bottom and part of the top of your areola into her mouth. Baby’s head should be tilted back a bit.
- Aim your nipple toward baby’s nose. Not the middle of his mouth. You can prompt baby’s sucking action by tickling baby’s upper lip to stimulate him to open his mouth wide.
- Watch for baby to open her mouth wide with chin and tongue down. This is when she’s ready. Don’t try to push the nipple in if baby isn’t ready.
- Once baby latches, your nipple should be near the back of his mouth. Your mammary glands are behind your areola. Baby’s sucking on the nipple and parts of the areola helps stimulate the mammary glands and your milk flow.
- Re-latch baby if there is pain such as pinching or biting of the nipple.This can cause reduced milk flow, discomfort and possible nipple trauma. Break baby’s mouth suction with your finger at the side of her mouth. Insert more of the breast into baby’s mouth. If baby’s lips are tucked in, re-latch. Lips should look like she’s saying, “oh.”
- Help baby as needed by supporting the breast and ensuring the entire areola is available for baby latch onto.
- Know when you have a good latch. You’ll feel a gentle pull on your breast. If it hurts, see a health care clinician for guidance. Breastfeeding should not hurt.
You’ll know baby is receiving and swallowing your milk if her jaw moves rhythmically. You’ll occasionally hear her exhale after she swallows.
- Keep baby’s ear, shoulder and hip aligned. This makes it easier for him to stay latched and to swallow comfortably.
The first milk you’ll produce is nutritious colostrum. About a teaspoon each feeding is all that baby needs the first few days. Feedings will be frequent. Free flowing milk will present 3 to 5 days after delivery.
How can you tell when baby is hungry?
Baby will give you signs. When infants are hungry, they make tight fists and bring them to their mouths to suck. This is a first cue baby is ready for feeding. It’s better to start feedings at this cue than to wait until baby cries.
Early on babies may be sleepy when at the breast. To keep them interested in feeding have dad or a partner rub their hands or feet during feeding.
Mom can help the milk move by doing breast compressions when baby gets sleepy. (Make a “C” with your fingers on your breast and gently compress.)
Soon, no amount of breast compressions or hand/feet stimulation will keep baby awake.
Watch the tension in baby’s arms/hands. When baby is full, their arms will become limp and their hands will open. That shows they’re done.
Don’t move baby yet! Give baby five minutes to get into a deep sleep before you try to put her in the crib — otherwise baby will typically fuss about leaving mommy!
Breastfeeding Away from Home
If you expect to breastfeed away from home, practice a bit before nursing in public. (Baby will be hungry when you’re out and about!) Plan for a cover for privacy and check yourself in the mirror so you know what others will see. Some moms suggest you focus on baby when nursing away from home. Ignore surrounding distractions.
Finally, have faith in yourself. Practice will help you perfect your nursing skills. You and your baby will get comfortable with the process.
After taking these steps, if you still have questions or concerns, check with your health care clinician or a breastfeeding / postpartum care specialist.
A number of women’s health and maternity services are available to guide you through every stage of this exciting time of life!
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The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.