[Last Updated: March, 2017]
Mother milk is like a nectar for your newborn. It is the only recommended food for your infant till 6 months of age. Breast milk keeps your baby away from diseases, malnutrition and improves baby’s immune system. Baby gets all the essentials nutrients from mom’s milk & it decreases death ratio among infants.
It is always advisable to keep your newborn only on breast milk for first six months because these months are most crucial months for baby development & growth.
To make mommies aware about breastfeeding & it’s benefits, first week of august is celebrated as “Breastfeeding Week” world wide.
Breastfeeding is not only about feeding your baby, it’s about to know benefits of breastfeeding, nursing positions, correct latching technique, ways to improve breast milk supply, making sure that baby is getting enough milk.
Benefits of Breast Milk
- Its natural way of feeding your newborn. It doesn’t require extra cost or equipment to feed your baby. Keeps baby away from hunger.
- Your infant will get all the essential nutrients & minerals from mom’s milk. It’s a perfect mix of Calcium, Vitamins, Protein & required fat.
- It helps to improve baby’s immune system. Breast milk contains antibodies which help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Babies who are completely on mom’s milk till 6 months of age have fewer hospitalizations and visits to the doctor.
- Its helps to make a bond with your newborn. Babies always feel safe & secure when they are in touch with mom. Skin to skin contact has a great healing power. If your baby is cranky or not feeling well then breastfeed your baby. It will help your baby to calm down.
- Helps new mommies to reduce postpartum weight. Nursing burns up calories. Example if you are nursing your newborn 20 ounces a day, you are actually burning up 400 calories a day.
- Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of SIDS(Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Breastfed infants are like to gain right amount weight and reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions diabetes, obesity.
- It helps new mom’s uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size.
Positions while Breastfeeding
Baby must be positioned properly. Hold your baby in a comfortable position so that he doesn’t have to twist his neck to feed.
Try four popular breastfeeding positions to find the best for you and your baby while nursing. You can enjoy nursing experience only once you and your little one feel relaxed.
It is the most commonly used position soon after the baby is born. It requires you to cradle your baby’s head with the crook of your arm with your baby’s nose opposite your nipple. Use that hand to support your baby’s bottom. Tuck her lower arm under your own. Turn your baby on his side with his face, stomach directly facing you. Raise your baby to your breast. You can support your breast with your other hand.
Sit in a comfortable chair having armrests or on a bed with lots of pillows.
Cross Cradle Position
This position is similar to the cradle hold but your arms are positioned differently. In this position, you don’t support your baby’s head with the crook of your arm. Use the hand of that arm to support your breast. Your opposite arm should come around the back of your baby.
Like the cradle position, turn your baby on his side with his chest & tummy directly facing you. With your thumb and fingers behind his head and below his ears, guide baby’s mouth to your breast. This position works best for infant who has latching issue.
This position is best for mom’s having c-section to protect your belly from the pressure / weight of your baby. Also a good position for moms having twins to feed both babies at the same time. In this position, you tuck your baby under your arm on the same side that you’re nursing from.
To achieve this position. First, place 1 or 2 pillows at your side, Now position your baby at your side, under your arm. Your baby’s feet and legs should be tucked under your arm & pointing towards your back. Then lift your baby to your breast. Use your forearm to support her upper back & hand to support his head.
Side Lying position
This position is best for night feeding. Also comfortable position for moms having c-section.
Start by lying on your side and turn your baby on his side with his chest & tummy directly facing you. Your baby should be positioned so his nose is opposite your nipple. You can use pillow or blanket behind your baby to move towards you.Cradle your baby’s head with the hand of your bottom arm. You can support your breast with your other hand.
Most important part of breastfeeding is Latching. If your baby has not latched properly then nursing can be painful for you & for your newborn. When a comfortable position & CORRECT LATCH is obtained then breastfeeding can be an amazing experience for a mom and a baby.
First, you must hold your baby in a comfortable position so that baby can latch on your nipple easily, can suck it & drain out milk.
Following steps can help new moms to ensure the correct latch
- Make sure your baby’s mouth is wide open when latching on.
- Hold your breast with your hand so that baby has enough of the nipple to latch.
- Bring your baby’s mouth close to your nipple, trying to center your nipple in the baby’s mouth above the tongue.
- Baby is latched correctly when both of his lips are pursed outward around your nipple.
- Baby should have all of your nipple & darker skin around the nipple (areola) in his mouth.
- Make sure your baby’s nose is almost touching your breast. You can hear your baby swallowing.
Your baby will take a pause in between sucks. Sucks will increase as the baby grows & milk supply increase.
Initially baby gives 4-5 sucks then a pause of few seconds.
Your baby will release the breast on his own once he is full. If your baby doesn’t release your breast but the sucks then you can slip your finger in the side of your baby’s mouth & turn.
Babies who have not latched correctly, will frequently sleep at breast & seems dissatisfied. They are not getting sufficient milk supply because of the poor latch.
In initial days, You may have sore nipples when your newborn tries to latch & suck your nipples. Once baby has established a good latch, your nipple soreness & pain will reduce in 2-3 weeks.
5 ways to treat sore nipples & breast pain
#1. Correct Latch
If your baby latches on and it hurts, you know something is wrong.Make sure your baby latches onto your breasts correctly every time. The “Correct latch” is a key to pain-free breastfeeding.
#2. Ice Pack
Ice-pack treatment reduces swelling and pain. Place ice cubes in a plastic bag and wrap it with a cotton cloth. Apply this ice pack to each of your breasts for about 10 minutes. Do it multiple times in a day until you are feeling better.
#3. Gentle Massage
While taking the shower, soap your breasts and gently massage the breasts from the center of your chest out to your armpits. This massage is really helpful to improve blood circulation & give relief from breast tenderness.
#4. Use Your Milk to Heal
Express a little milk from your breast, coat your nipples with extracted milk and let it air-dry there. It’s one of the proven home remedies to heal cracked or sore nipples.
#5. High Fiber Diet
Include plenty of fiber in your diet. Eat fruits, raw vegetables, lentils, black beans and whole grain foods. Women on a higher-fiber diet excreted more estrogen which helps to treat breast tenderness.
How to make sure that baby is getting enough milk
Here is no hard and fast rule to measure that baby is getting sufficient milk. Based on few proved parameters, you can conclude that your baby is getting enough milk to meet his growing needs.
- Baby weight is increasing as per his growth chart. Baby usually regain his birth weight by the time he is 14 days old. And doubles his birth weight in 5 months.
- If your baby is getting sufficient milk then he will have 6 to 8 wet diapers in a day. There should be 3 or more stools per 24 hours. As baby gets older, stools may occur less often and may even skip a number of days if your baby is completely on breastfeed.
- Your breasts feel emptier and softer after nursing.
- Your baby should feed at least 8 to 12 times a day. The length of each feeding can be different .Your baby will show signs when he is finished.
- You can hear your baby swallow while he is feeding.
- Baby is active and appears satisfied after feeding.
- During the growth spurt, Your baby will nurse more often than usual and for the long durations.
10 things which can help to increase breastmilk supply
- Nurse Frequently. More often and the longer your baby latches, more breast milk will produce.
- Most baby’s preference for one side. But you must offer both sides at each feeding. This will help to maintain milk supply in both breasts.
- Nursing mom to drink lots of fluids and to eat well. Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water.
- Have a glass of water or juice before you start nursing.
- Relax & be comfortable: Once mom is relaxed and comfortable in a position, she can feed her baby well. Sit in a relaxed chair or on the bed having pillows.
- Take naps when your baby is sleeping. It helps to regain energy. More you feel energetic, more you can feed your baby.
- Eat healthy diet. Increase fiber content in your food diet. It is very important for breastfeeding moms to eat consciously.
- Start your morning with a bowl of oatmeal. You can try homemade oatmeal cookies too. It helps to boost milk supply.
- Massage your breast before nursing. It also helps to reduce nursing pain when your baby sucks. Breast massage will clear milk ducts & will trigger high milk supply.
- Avoid bottle-feeding & pacifiers if possible.
Secret Mantra of Successful Breastfeeding
Listen Your baby
Every mom wants her baby is fed and content. Your baby will let you know that he is hungry by hunger cues. It is always best to nurse your baby on first signs of hunger like rooting, hands to mouth.
Usually, we think that If a baby is crying, one of the reason could be hunger. But crying is the last hunger signal.Your baby gives you a lot of hunger cues that he is hungry, ready to feed.
Baby signs of hunger
- Licking lips
- Opening and closing mouth
- Sucking on lips, hands, fingers, toys, toes
- Trying to position for nursing
Let your baby nurse as long as he wants. Don’t be hurry. Help your baby get as much of your breast as possible into his mouth. Babies typically breastfeed for 15 to 20 minutes on each breast.
Be relaxed and calm while you breastfeed. Get yourself comfortable with pillows as needed to support your arms, head, and neck on a bed. You can use a comfortable chair with armrest & footer for foot-rest. Both baby and mom need rest so take power naps.
If you are facing any kind of breastfeeding issue then it’s okay. Don’t be panic. It happens with most of the moms. Just be comfortable & relax. More you feel relaxed, more you can enjoy this amazing phase of nursing. It really helps to make a strong bond between the mom and baby.