The desire to breastfeed our babies is a natural feeling but can be very scary for first time mamas. Questions on how to breastfeed are on the forefront of our minds. Don't be afraid to get educated. There are a lot of great resources available to pregnant moms to help teach about breastfeeding. Books, videos and breastfeeding support groups are a great way to learn about what to expect. Here are some great tips to get you started.
1. Get a breastfeeding pillow – A breastfeeding pillow will help position your baby comfortably to be able to nurse for a while. It will also help keep you from having to lean forward and will make it easier on your back.
2. Consult lactation consultants – Your hospital should have lactation consultants on staff to help answer any questions you may have and will help you begin the breastfeeding journey. If you are delivering at home with a midwife, check to see if they have a list of contacts to help you out.
3. Establish the latch – This is the one that is probably the hardest for new moms and even veteran moms as each child is different. To get a good latch the baby's mouth should be wide open and should cover the areola.
4. A little is a good start – When you first start breastfeeding, baby will actually be only getting small amounts of nutrient rich colostrum. This is all they need for the first little bit and offers them all the nutrients they need.
5. Keep track – Keep notes of when you nursed, how long you nursed for and what side baby nursed on last. This will help give you an idea if baby is eating enough. There are great feeding diaries and apps available to help you keep track.
6. Burping – Just as in bottle feeding, burping is very important. It helps alleviate any painful gas build up for baby. A few small pats or rubs on the back will help with this.
7. Fuel up – You will need your energy to be able to breastfeed. It is very tiring to breastfeed and does drain you so you will need to make sure you are drinking pleanty of water and eating well.
8. Pain is NOT normal – If you are feeling pain while breastfeeding, there could be a number of reasons for this. Incorrect latch and/or mastitis are usually the 2 main reasons for pain. If it is incorrect latch, adjust baby to a proper latch. For mastitis, you will need to see your doctor for antibitotics. Sore nipples are common. Try using hot and cold compresses and lanolin cream to help soothe nipples.
Take advantage of breastfeeding support groups in your area. Learning from other moms who are going through the same thing is a huge benefit. You never know that while you are looking for support yourself, you could be helping another mom at the same time!