Breastfeeding is just one of the many loops on the wild roller coaster ride that is having a baby. Some find it easy; some find it difficult — but these tips will help you with the learning curve so you can enjoy feeding your baby.
If you are one of the women who struggle with breastfeeding, please don’t wait to seek support. There are a number of professionals available to you for guidance – your pediatrician, obstetric provider, or an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants). Check The Parent Collective website for some tried and true IBCLC’s ready to help.
1. How much is enough?
Newborn babies need to feed at the breast at least 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. Some feed more frequently than this, but 8 is the minimum. Newborn babies should feed anytime they show feeding cues which may include rooting, tongue thrusts, sucking (hands, fingers, tongues, etc), and wiggling. Crying is a LATE sign of hunger.
2. Deep breath in and….relax
In order to have a successful feed, you and your baby should be calm. Let down, which is the hormonal cascade and sometimes sensation that occurs when your body is releasing the milk from your breast, will be easier if you are in a quiet relaxed setting, connecting with your baby.
3. It’s all about the LATCH!
The number one way to avoid issues such as low supply, engorgement and nipple pain is a great latch. In order to achieve are great latch, try following these few pointers:
- Hold your baby’s whole body close with his nose level with your nipple.
- Let your baby’s head tip back a little so that his top lip can brush against your nipple. This should encourage your baby to make a wide-open mouth.
- When your baby’s mouth opens wide, his chin is able to touch your breast first, with his head tipped back so that his tongue can reach as much breast as possible.
- With his chin firmly touching and his nose clear, his mouth is wide open in an asymmetrical latch where there will likely be more of the areola visible above your baby’s top lip than below his bottom lip. Your baby’s cheeks will look full and rounded as they feed. Lips should be flanged out, not tucked in. If it doesn’t feel right, break the suction and try again. (Starting when the baby is not already very hungry is key to both of you working patiently to get the latch right.)
4. Make a milkshake!
A wise doula taught us this trick. If you are worried that your baby is feeding primarily on foremilk and not getting enough of the hind milk with all of its fatty goodness, you can create a milkshake by massaging your breast vigorously before feeding. This has a homogenizing effect.
5. Are we done yet?
Let your baby tell you when they are done feeding, not the clock. Each baby is different, and they will be more or less efficient at getting your milk so you should feed until they unlatch themselves or until they are no longer regularly transferring milk – usually about 15-20 minutes on each breast once your milk is in and flowing.
There is no air in the breast, but it’s always a good idea to burp your baby after they finish on the first breast and then offer the second. Some babies need a break to rest up between breasts, but with time you’ll get to know your baby’s appetite and patterns of feeding on one or both breasts.
In the beginning, it’s best to offer both breasts and try to burp them as a newborn baby’s digestive track is changing daily. When you begin your next feed, start with the breast you ended on in the previous feed.
Good luck and please visit: www.theparentcollective.com if you need support.
Jessica Hill is a co-founder of The Parent Collective, a prenatal class series in NYC and Fairfield County, CT, which offers expectant parents both education and support in an open, social and judgment-free setting. By attending this class series, parents will build friendships with families living in close proximity and delivering babies at around the same time, to help them through those first few months with baby and beyond. Classes are currently running at NY Kids Club TriBeCa and in multiple locations in CT. Like them on Facebook or follow on Instagram.