The World Health Organization recommends mommas exclusively breastfeed their baby for the first six months and advocates for continued breastfeeding for up to 2 years and beyond. I personally champion breastfeeding and love my nursing journey with my two sons. But I know that it may not be an easy peasy journey for every momma.
So in this article, I want to help empower moms with the basic know-hows in breastfeeding. I covered positioning and latching tips, as well as common concerns of breastfeeding moms. Let’s dive in and get the boob out!
Your baby instinctively knows how to breastfeed, especially if you initiate it through long periods of uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and strategic positioning. Before you know it, they’ll attach to your nipple to get a good milk fill!Your baby instinctively knows how to #breastfeed, especially if you initiate it through long periods of uninterrupted #skintoskin contact. Click To Tweet
I also would like to stress the importance of having a support system to guide and assist you holistically towards a successful breastfeeding journey. External motivation and support can boost your morale and confidence to breastfeed! We have a Facebook community of mommas that share the same momma-concerns, and you’re welcome to connect with us! I also talked about my breastfeeding journey through a webinar that you can access once you join.
“So how can I have a breastfeeding support system?” As mentioned, you can start by joining online momma communities and seeking a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist. They can provide vital breastfeeding education, identify the causes for breastfeeding concerns, and help you prepare to nurse after delivery.
You may also want to check in with your hospital if they adhere to the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative practices. Certain hospitals follow these clinical practices to facilitate, promote, and protect breastfeeding. They assist nursing mothers and help mothers and babies establish a physical bond that encourages breastfeeding.
One comforting fact is that breastfeeding has been around for centuries. Also, it is the biological norm for mammals! Many mommas have successfully nursed their children, and I hope that fact can motivate us to trust our body and its capabilities.
Take note that these tips are just suggestions and aren’t one-size-fits-all advice or a very strict list of breastfeeding dos and dont’s. Every momma’s body is different, so feel free to modify and change things according to your needs and preferences.
The perfect position for you and your baby can often be discovered through trial and error, so just keep experimenting! The general rule of thumb is that a proper position shouldn’t make your nipples sore nor hurt your back.
There are several ways to cradle your baby while breastfeeding. Try to see which hits the sweetest (most comfortable!) spot for both of you. Also, always remember to bring your baby to nipple height to avoid neck strain, backaches, and sore nipples.
Here are four different ways to hold your baby:
This position stimulates your baby’s breastfeeding instincts. Basically, you just have to lie down comfortably and make way for skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
How to do it:
This cradle hold is practiced chiefly during the first few weeks after giving birth.
How to do it:
Since this is such a cuddly and relaxing position, mommas do it mostly at night to prepare for bedtime. When you feel exhausted and can only make minimal effort, this position might work for you.
How to do it:
This can be ideal for newborn babies and moms who had a C-section delivery since the baby is kept away from the incision. This position may also help a baby to latch more easily.
How to do it:
A latch is when your baby attaches to your breast to feed. Being in a comfortable position (like those I mentioned above) can help your baby latch properly, and it’s an important factor in answering how to successfully breastfeed.Being in a comfortable #breastfeedingposition can help your baby #latch properly, and it’s an important factor in answering how to successfully breastfeed. Click To Tweet
Here are three ways to get your baby to latch effectively:
If you feel pain or discomfort in the latch, you may detach your baby by gently putting your finger in the baby’s mouth in between his gums. Try again until you don’t feel any pain.
Well, of course, your baby still can’t talk. But babies can have their way of communicating hunger or satiety. As your milk is your baby’s primary food source, it helps to know their hunger (and fullness!) cues.
If your baby stops feeding and doesn’t turn away from the breast on his own, gently place your finger on the roof or corner of his mouth to break the suction. Then, help your baby burp by carrying them over your shoulder and ensure their face and nose are not leaning on your shoulder. Lightly tap their back to let them burp.
It can be normal to feel slight pain (that could feel like a light tug or pressure, but should not be excruciating) for the first 30 to 60 seconds of a proper latch. Especially for new moms, the sensation may be unfamiliar. But after the first minute, the pain should ease out. If you continue to feel pain beyond the 1-minute mark, gently detach your baby from your nipple and try again.
A shallow latch will make your nipples sore and cracked. It also doesn’t properly drain your breasts, so it can result in breast engorgement. If the pain and discomfort persists, call your doctor or lactation consultant to assess for any potential oral anatomical issues.
Feeding time will depend on your baby’s age, health, latch, and alertness. Your milk supply and milk flow may also play a part. For newborns, it usually takes around 10-15 minutes on each boob. So feeding time takes about 20-30 minutes for an entire nursing session.
Babies who are 3 to 5-months-old may need less time (around 5 to 10 minutes) to empty your breasts. Babies beyond 6 months may take quick feedings during the day since other foods are also being introduced to their diet. Longer feeding sessions may take place at night.
Ten minutes could be enough to empty one boob, but longer feeds are ideal for your baby to gain significant weight. Your breasts’ hindmilk has higher levels of fats, which is why moms are encouraged to let their newborns drain the breasts.
If your baby was born premature or with a health condition, they may tire out more quickly and feed shorter periods. Call your doctor or lactation consultant if your newborn baby constantly feeds only for 10 minutes or less.
Let the baby feed on each breast every nursing session, and try to feed them on each boob the same amount of time. Some babies may like feeding on just one boob. So if this is the case, you can pump milk out from the other (unpreferred) boob. The point is that you drain both breasts so you can produce more milk and avoid painful engorgement.
I usually tend to forget which boob I last used (mom brain!), but I find that taking down notes on my phone and using a breastfeeding app helped me keep track of my baby’s feeds. Another technique is to put a hair scrunchie on your wrist on the same side as the boob that your baby fed on last.
Some babies need to burp more, others less. Their need for burping can vary from one feeding session to the next. The standard is to try burping your baby before switching to another boob.
If your baby spits up often, try burping them more frequently. Spitting is normal for babies but if they throw up a lot of milk, call your pediatrician. If you notice that your baby is extra gassy, vomits frequently, and has blood in their poop, he may have a milk-soy protein intolerance (MSPI) or they could be a symptom of oral ties. Contact your doctor for further guidance.
Blame it on the growth spurt! It’s a time for your baby’s rapid growth, so they may need to breastfeed longer or more frequently.
Growth spurts usually happen when your baby is:
Keep in mind, though, that babies suckle for plenty of reasons, like comfort feeding. This is still great for moms who want to increase their milk supply as suckling (whether due to hunger or seeking comfort) stimulates milk production.
Seafood like sharks, swordfish, and marlin are high in mercury and should be avoided since mercury exposure could cause toxic effects to your baby. But for the most part, try to focus on nutrient-dense foods such as fresh vegetables, whole grains, and your protein sources of choice (chicken, turkey, beef, etc.).When #breastfeeding, try to focus on nutrient-dense foods such as fresh vegetables, whole grains, and your protein sources of choice. Click To Tweet
Monitor how your baby reacts to your diet and watch out for potential allergies (dairy, gluten are the most common). Caffeine may make them irritable, so go for caffeine-free alternatives instead. If you enjoy spicy or strong-flavored food, you don’t have to give them up as long as your baby doesn’t react negatively.
Breastfed babies usually feed the appropriate amount for their age and weight. Bottle-fed babies are more likely to be overfed since they may be encouraged to finish a bottle even if they’re already full.
If you’re bottle-feeding your baby, the signs for satiety mentioned above still apply. But instead of turning away from the boob, they turn away from the bottle nipple.
Every momma will each have unique experiences with breastfeeding. I personally went through a whole range of emotions—frustration, ease, worry, wonder, you name it! If you’re having a hard time trying to position your baby and make him latch, remember that you’re not alone, momma!
Breastfeeding can be challenging, especially at first. It takes practice, like a muscle that you have to exercise. You may not get it right on your first try, but that’s okay! Trial and error is part of the journey—laugh at your mistakes, then try again.
Call your doctor or lactation consultant if you feel like what you’re doing just doesn’t hit the mark, and your momma gut alarm is telling you something is wrong. Most breastfeeding problems have a solution. It won’t hurt to ask for help!