Breastfeeding tips every beginner should know
Want to try breastfeeding your newborn baby? Breastmilk is undeniably the most wholesome thing you can give your baby and is full of physical and emotional benefits. But don’t expect breastfeeding to be easy, stress-free, and painless. Breastfeeding is hard. It hurts. It can be frustrating and inconvenient. But it is also very rewarding to spend time snuggling close with your baby every few hours feeding her nutritious breast milk only you can provide.
Choose a comfortable position
Breastfeeding can feel a little awkward at first. Try different positions until you find one that feels right for you and your baby. When breastfeeding, sit upright in a comfortable chair and don’t bend over to reach your baby. Instead, hold baby close to your breast and support her from beneath. Four common breastfeeding positions are:
- Cradle – Cradle baby across your belly using the arm of the same side you want to breastfeed on. Baby’s head rests in the crook of your elbow. For extra support, place a pillow on your lap or use a chair with armrests.
- Cross Cradle – Hold your baby across your belly using the arm opposite the breast you are feeding from. This same hand will support baby’s head. The other hand will support the breast from the underneath, your hand making a cupping shape. This position is great to try when you and baby are both brand new to breastfeeding.
- Football Hold – Rather than baby resting across your body belly to belly, baby is held on the side of your body. If you want to breastfeed using the left breast, your left arm will hold baby against your left side.
Side-Lying – Unlike the other breastfeeding positions, for this hold, you and baby will be lying down. Lie on your side and face baby toward the lower breast, using one hand to support him/her. Just be sure not to sleep; sleeping with your newborn baby in bed with you is dangerous.
Get the right accessories
If you decide to breastfeed, you’re going to need the right tools. It’ll make things much easier!
- Nipple shield – Some newborn babies have difficulty latching onto the breast. For this and other reasons, sometimes a nipple shield is recommended. A nipple shield is a thin, pliable piece of silicon that covers mother’s nipple, but it has holes in the end so the milk can flow to the baby. This is a temporary tool that is no longer needed as baby grows.
- Breast pump – A breast pump is a machine that stimulates the nipples and “pumps” the breast milk into containers. Breast pumps come with a variety of features. Obtaining a quality breast pump, especially if you are going to attempt juggling breastfeeding and going back to work, is very important. Having a weak pump will make you absolutely miserable and want to give up on the whole breastfeeding thing. Even if you won’t be using it every day, it’s great to express any extra milk so you can leave your infant with a babysitter every once in awhile.
- Nursing bra – Designed specifically for breastfeeding mothers, a nursing bra provides support and comfort. It has a special clasp at the top of the cup that can be released to expose the breast for feedings.
- Nursing cover – Some women have no reservations about nursing her baby in public without covers, and that’s great. But if you want a little privacy, have a nursing cover handy. It’s basically a rectangle blanket with a neck strap to hold it on while you nurse.
- Nipple cream – Nipples get very sore and tender from breastfeeding! But don’t worry; they will toughen up the more you nurse your baby. Until then, using nipple cream after every feeding will help ease the discomfort.
- Nursing pads – These cup-shaped pads are absorbent and are meant to be worn inside a bra. Between feedings (and especially if you’ve gone extra long between feedings), your milk can leak, so nursing pads will soak up the milk and prevent it from soaking through your shirt.
Request help from a lactation consultant or nurse
The thing about learning to breastfeed is that you’ve never done it before! If you have questions about what to do or how to help your baby feed better, you should consult a lactation specialist before giving up. A professional who is trained to help you can take away some of the frustration. He or she can show you how your baby should be latching on and how to entice baby to feed, as well as how to take care of yourself so that breastfeeding isn’t painful.
It takes practice to breastfeed your baby! If you and your baby can learn how to breastfeed, you will find it to be an incredible bonding experience that you will cherish. However, not every woman is able to breastfeed. Don’t be ashamed or feel guilty if you aren’t able to breastfeed your baby, whatever the reason may be.
What are your fears about breastfeeding?