5 Simple Tips for Successful Breastfeeding
In our current state of immediate gratification it is almost human nature to look for the short cut, or cliff notes, or quick and easy answers to our questions and problems. Breastfeeding mamas are no different. Most women want to know how they can be successful at breastfeeding their baby including how to produce enough milk, ensure baby is gaining enough weight and avoid the painful scenarios of breastfeeding. Please know that each mom and baby pair are different and therefore have different needs but, here are 5 simple steps every mom can use to help breastfeeding their baby be a success.
1) Practice Skin-to-Skin Contact with your new baby. This is especially important immediately after your baby is born. Lactation Consultant and Professionals recommend at least an hour and a half of Skin-to-Skin contact between mom and baby or until baby’s first feeding occurs. Skin-to-Skin naturally promotes breastfeeding responses in mom and baby. Mom’s body also regulates baby’s body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. Skin-to-Skin contact immediately postpartum and up to 4 weeks postpartum helps set and increase mother’s milk supply. The hormones produced in Skin-to-Skin contact and while breastfeeding help to fill mom’s milk making cells with Prolactin, the milk-making hormone.
2) Hold your baby “Tummy to Tummy” and tight to your body. Babies want to be help really close to their mom’s bodies. Remember, they are used to being in your tight and cozy womb. Newborns also have a reflex to push away if they are not held close and tight enough which can make breastfeeding difficult. In every breastfeeding position, hold your baby so their tummy is pressed against your tummy. Hold them nice and close to your body.
3) Line up your nipple to your baby’s nose. This might seem a little counter intuitive, but lining up your baby’s nose to your nipple promotes a deeper latch which prevents nipple pain and trauma and also allows baby to eat more efficiently, helping them to gain the weight they need. Hold your baby tummy-to-tummy, nice and close, line up your nipple to their nose, wait until they open wide like they are yawning and draw them in quick and close. If you get a shallow latch or have nipple pain during the latch, remove baby by breaking the suction and try again.
4) Support your breast and tilt your nipple slightly upward. The importance of a deep and comfortable latch cannot be underestimated. It can only take one poor latch to cause nipple trauma, which is then difficult to heal when feeding you baby every 2-3 hours. Slightly tilting you nipple up towards the roof of your baby’s mouth is a good way to promote a deeper latch. Most women find they need to support their breast to get a comfortable deep latch and to keep baby on the breastfeeding. Make a “C” Shape with the hand you are using to support the breast and line up your thump to your nipple to your baby’s nose (which is in alignment with the roof of their mouth). Your hand should be cupping your breast on the outside of the areole, on the skin of the breast. Press the thumb a little deeper than the rest of your hand, which will gently tilt your nipple upwards.
5) Feed your newborn on demand. There are many different books and methods of parenting out there but in terms of what is best for breastfeeding, it is best to feed your baby on demand for at least the first 3 months postpartum. Newborns are used to being nourished all the time in the uterus (9-10 months) so they need some time to adjust to eating on a schedule. Their tummies are also tiny, about the size of a marble at first so they eat often and digest quickly. Every mom and baby pair is different so it is impossible to set a schedule to tell everyone to abide by. Feeding your baby on demand also sets your milk supply to what it needs to be for your baby’s current needs. Not too little and not too much. At some point in the very near future, your baby will be on a schedule;) After 3 months, their stomachs are significantly bigger and can hold milk for a longer period so some of those night feedings can be dropped. Work with a Lactation Professional to help you set a schedule that meets mom and baby’s needs.
Breastfeeding is an amazing time to share with your baby and is undoubtedly the best thing for you and your baby, but it is not always easy. Reach out and get support once you have your baby. Almost all breastfeeding challenges can be overcome with proper support. Belly Bliss has a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Marianne Kmak, who offers in home consultations as well as at Belly Bliss. There is also a FREE Breastfeeding Support Group offered Thursdays at 11am led by Lactation Educator and Belly Bliss Co-Owner, Deb Mills.
-Written by Deb Mills, Lactation Educator and Belly Bliss Co-Owner
Photo provided by Rachel Kemble Photography.