It is natural for new parents, specially moms, to worry about how to breastfeed a newborn. And while you struggle to visualize how on earth are you going to squeeze in your boob in that super tiny mouth, you may get overwhelmed by the feeling that there is a lot to learn. However, it is so simple that you will be amazed. And in no time, both you and your baby will be getting the hang of it naturally while you relax, sleep, read, or do anything!
In this section:
As soon as you give birth, your breasts start to fill up. Initially, your breasts produce Colostrum which is more like an appetizer for your baby – but it is the real deal. This pre-milk secretion is different than the regular milk that the breasts produce moving forward. For some mothers, the Colostrum is yellowish and thick, while some mothers find it to have a thinner and watery consistency.
The Colostrum is slowly secreted by your breasts which enables your baby to slowly start feeding naturally (this is as new for your baby as it is for you, so hang on there). You will notice that the Colostrum will be automatically replaced by the real breast milk in around 2 to 4 days.
In about 1 to 2 hours after birth, your newborn baby will need his/ her first meal. By that time your breasts have also produced ample Colostrum for the initial feed. Here is what you need to do:
When your baby has properly latched on, his lips would pout and should cover almost the entire areola. As he starts to suck, his jaws should move back and forth with every sucking motion. When he swallows, you may hear soft pitched swallowing sound (and not a smacking sound). In this whole process, if your nipples feel pain, it could be a sign that the baby has not latched on properly and you need to try again.
Some new mothers worry that their breasts may block the tiny nose from breathing. While you may notice that your baby’s nose may touch your breasts during the nursing process, this tiny nose is naturally designed to let the oxygen in and out. If you are worried that the baby is having difficulty breathing and latching on at the same time, you can gently push the area of your breast that touches the nose, allowing him more room to breathe. Make sure your newborn baby does not have to strain his tiny neck or head during nursing.
When learning how to breastfeed a newborn, the positioning plays an important role. There are many ways you can hold your baby in while breastfeeding as long as both you and your baby find the process comfortable. Some of the most loved positions by feeding mothers are:
As you start to breastfeed your baby, you may feel a tingly sensation in your breast and nipple (sometimes in both even when your baby is latching on to one of them). This sensation is the result of milk flowing and for this reason, sometimes milk drips from the breast which is not in use. The “Let-down Reflex” may occur when your feeding is overdue, when you think about your baby, or when your body is creating too much milk as compared to the amount consumed by your baby.
Sometimes when your baby is latching on, this Let-down Reflex can create a large volume of milk that can make your baby cough (the rate of milk secretion is more than what your baby can swallow). In such cases, you can squeeze some milk by pressing your fingers around the nipple and discharge it before letting your baby latch on.
As many times as the baby wants!
Right after birth, you may need to feed your baby around 8 to 12 times a day, and sometimes even more. This number can change – sometimes decreasing while at times increasing as your baby grows. Babies are said to demand more milk than usual when they are around 2 to 6 weeks old and again around 3 months and 6 months of age as they grow at a rapid pace.
Babies generally cry when they are hungry, but newborn babies may be too sleeping to ask for milk until they are really hungry. Do not wait for your baby to cry their lungs out before latching on as this will make the process of latching a bit harder – they may be too upset by then. Your baby exhibits some early signs to show that he or she is hungry.
When you don’t get the hint, then the crying starts! Here are some signs to look for:
Let your baby drink milk until the baby is full and satisfied. The baby will let go of your breast once the tummy is full. The feeding time is usually 15 to 20 minutes per breast. Make sure you empty one breast before moving on to the next one. This will make sure your breast continues to produce milk at a good pace. Some mothers use alternate breasts in each sitting. The problem with that is that after 20 minutes the breast starts getting empty and the baby only sucks without getting ample milk.
You need to make sure that your baby uses both breasts in each sitting and finishes up one breast before moving to the second one. This way, both the breasts will be empty and ready to produce more milk by the time of the next feeding session. If the breasts are not completely empty, they will decrease the milk production which may cause pain and swelling. You can use a cold compress before starting the feeding to take care of the pain and discomfort.
Look out for the signs of a full tummy and a satisfied baby. Consider the following checklist to see if your baby is getting enough milk:
Wake your baby by gently rubbing your nipple alongside his/ her lips. Gently stroke his/ her cheeks, jaws, and chin area with your fingers. It is natural for babies to fall asleep during breastfeeding, but if you do not wake them up to finish off the feeding, they will demand milk from time to time. This will not just make them cranky but will also ruin your breast’s milk production cycle.
Sometimes baby sleeps during nursing when the breast gets empty. Try offering the other breast and squeeze some milk on his/ her lips. This will make them start nursing again. It is natural for the babies to fall asleep once their tummy is full. If you have been feeding them for half an hour and have used both your breasts, they may be full and satisfied.
It is a simple demand-supply thing. The more you feed, the more milk will your body produce. Increase the number of feeding sessions and make sure each breast is empty before moving onto the other breast. You can tell when your breast is empty by feeling it with your fingers. A breast filled with breast milk is hard and round while an empty breast feels soft and wobbly.
You can also increase your breast milk by drinking plenty of water, resting well, and eating healthy food. Make sure you understand what foods to eat when breastfeeding and the foods you need to avoid during breastfeeding.
Some mothers introduce solids before their baby turns 6 months old in fear of the baby feeling hungry. When you introduce formula milk or introduce cereals during breastfeeding before your baby is 6 months old, you only make it harder for your breasts. Your baby may lose interest in breast milk which means your breast will decrease in their milk production.
If you are worried about how to breastfeed a newborn when you are experiencing a low milk production dilemma, click here to know more about increasing your breast milk and the home remedies that you can try out from your kitchen pantry.
So before you know it, your maternity leave is over. Getting back to the office does not mean depriving your baby of the goodness of your breast milk. You can breastfeed your baby before leaving for work. While at work, you can pump your milk in a private space and store the milk safely. Click here to learn about the ways you can express and store your breast milk.
You can ask the baby’s caregiver to give this stored milk the next day while you are at work. You can refrigerate your breast milk for 4 days and can even freeze it for 6 to 12 months! When you are back home from work, breastfeed your child like you normally do. This way your baby can have breast milk and you do not have to worry about any pain, discomfort, or low milk supply.
Almost whatever you consume goes to your baby via your breast milk. There are various foods and drinks you need to avoid or at least minimize while breastfeeding your baby. On the other hand, there are some foods you must eat to provide better nutrition to your baby. Click here to know more about the foods you need to avoid as well as those you need to eat while breastfeeding.
How to breastfeed a newborn when the nipples hurt and bleed? As they say, prevention is better than cure. Instead of treating sore nipples, it is better to prevent having them in the first place. One of the main reasons why your nipples get sore when you breastfeed is because your baby does not latch on properly. To release suction during the feed, insert your finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth. Now switch to the other breast, but this time, push the area around the nipple in your baby’s mouth. Your baby should have pout lips while sucking and the lips should cover the majority of the darker skin area around the nipples – the areola.
Remember, if breastfeeding hurts or your nipples bleed, it could be because your baby is holding onto the nipple and not the area around it. Make sure your baby’s mouth is in the right position.
To heal the cracked nipples:
Click here for more info on treating cracked nipples.
If you feel pain due to breast engorgement, or find a red sore spot on your breast, you should call your doctor. Furthermore, contact your doctor if you get a fever or feel body ache without any specific reason when you are breastfeeding. There is no rocket science in how to breastfeed a newborn. Like all other breastfeeding mothers, you will soon get the hang of it. Until then, we are here to help!
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