Breastfeeding is indeed a miraculous wonder of nature that countless women have been performing since the beginning of time. However, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it happens naturally or on its own. First-time moms have never breastfed before, and their precious little baby has never eaten before (from a breast or otherwise).
You need to get acquainted with this crucial new task well before attempting postpartum breastfeeding for the first time.
Remember, nursing for the first time can be a bit tricky. Still, with continuous practice, effort, and lots of patience, both you and your baby will get the hang of it. The best thing about breastfeeding? Your darling newborn will thrive on the nutrition and the endearing nearness this astounding wonder of nature offers. So, trust in your body and yourself!
Here’s how to breastfeed a baby throughout the first initial months of delivery:
The First Time
It is always a great idea to initiate breastfeeding while you are still in the hospital or as soon after delivery as you can, preferably under the supervision of a lactation consultant or nurse.
Many first-time moms worry more about how their newborns will learn to drink the milk. But thanks to mother nature, a newborn instinctively already knows how to suck. However, positioning your nipple and the baby’s mouth in the correct manner – also known as “the latch” – might take some time and trial and error.
The baby might let the breast slip out of their mouth or just not accept the nipple at all. They might simply not feel hungry after the stress of birthing. (Yes, labor is strenuous for the baby as well. After all, they have to push through the birth canal).
No matter what happens, don’t get discouraged; the lactation consultant and nurses can definitely help you hold and position the baby correctly. Plus, even if you do not get nursing right for several hours (or even an entire day!), the good news is your newborn would not starve. Babies are born with extra energy provisions that help them pass through this phase.
Breastfeeding Positions: How to Hold A Nursing Baby?
Holding a nursing baby is another major issue that several first-time mothers struggle with. Luckily, there are numerous ways and positions to breastfeed a newborn. Nonetheless, the best position for feeding is the one most comfortable and convenient for you as well as your baby. Below, I have shared four simple ways to hold the baby while nursing to make the breastfeeding process for both of you:
• The Football Hold – Keep the baby beside you lengthwise with the face titled upwards. Lay the baby alongside your arm and guide their mouth to your nipple. The football hold nursing position is particularly comfortable for women who have had a Cesarean delivery. But it works equally well for women with vaginal deliveries.• The Cradle Hold – Lay the baby across your abdomen (sideways). Next, use one hand to support the baby’s head and the other for the bottom. Guide the baby’s mouth to your breast.• The Cross-Cradle Hold – Position the baby on its side to ensure their mouth reaches your breast. For this, you can consider using a nursing pillow to provide support to the baby. If you are breastfeeding from the right breast, use your left arm to hold the baby and your left hand to support the head. At the same time, your fingers should be supporting the right breast.• The Lying-Down – In bed, hold the baby next to you. Make sure the baby is face to face with you. Next, the baby’s mouth should be positioned at the same height or a bit lower than your breast. With your free hand, adjust the baby’s mouth towards your breast and wrap the other free arm around them for a close embrace.
If you are having trouble positioning the baby for nursing, do not hesitate to take advantage of breastfeeding pillows. You can also use carefully folded towels and/or blankets to place the baby in a comfortable position. Please note that these are only some of the ways to hold a baby while nursing. To learn more about comfortable breastfeeding positions for first-time moms and their babies, keep an eye open for my upcoming blog post.
Latching: How to Get Your Baby to Latch?
Ask anybody – a lactation consultant, nurse, experienced mother, your mother! – they will all tell you one thing: lactation is the key to effective breastfeeding. If you do not how to do it, no worries; in this breastfeeding guide, I will help you learn how it is done, the right way. Just follow the instructions given below, and you will be as good as a pro in no time:
• Lay the baby on their side, directly facing you tummy to tummy.• Next, if needed, use a nursing pillow to offer support and prop up the baby.• Hold the baby up towards your breast; be sure not to lean over the baby.• Once you both are in a comfortable position, place your finger and thumb around your areola.• Tilt the baby’s head slightly backward and tickle their mouth with your nipple till he/she opens her mouth wide.• Next, help the baby “scoop” your breast into their mouth by first positioning it in their lower jaw, sufficiently beneath the nipple.• Once that’s done, tilt the baby’s head and bring it forward, placing the upper jaw totally on the breast.• Ensure the baby sucks your entire nipple and at least an inch or more of your breast’s areola in their mouth.
As I said earlier, breastfeeding is a natural phenomenon. Once you guide the baby on how to latch correctly, the rest will follow.
How Many Times Should You Nurse A Baby?
There are not any fixed rules on the number of times you should nurse a newborn. However, every two hours or each time the baby cries is good enough. Once you and the baby are comfortable latching, breastfeeding should not be a problematic concern.
Whenever the baby is hungry, simply position the baby near your breast and encourage sucking. To help the baby figure out where food is coming from, rub their cheek with a finger or nipple to get them turned towards your breast.
Even if your baby is not getting much milk initially, the stimulation (sucking) will help kick in and boost the milk supply. If you are having concerns with milk production, be sure to check out my blog post on “Breastfeeding Tips to Increase Milk Supply.”
That said, please rememder that the first few nursing times may be as short as 5 minutes or as long as 45 minutes. Most likely, the baby will nurse for twenty to forty minutes (on each breast) once they’ve learned the latch/suck/swallow technique. If your baby has been latching on one breast for an extended time, it is entirely acceptable to break the latch and switch the baby’s face to the other breast.
Essential Things You Should Know About Breast Milk
Many people assume that a newborn’s first meal from a mother is milk, but let me tell you, it is not. Instead, it is colostrum – a yellowish-colored liquid enriched with antibodies that help boost a newborn baby’s immune system. The natural milk comes a few days after you have given birth. Thus, do not worry if you see the yellow liquid coming from your breast instead of white milk – it will come gradually, and you will know when it’s there!
Your breasts might feel like they are about to explode any moment, and, in some instances, it might even feel they are full of rocks. But neither is the case. The sensation you feel is known as engorgement. The good news is that your hungry newborn can help you out in easing the discomfort and pain. Suppose you are experiencing engorgement (or may experience it in the future). The best way to alleviate this is to nurse your baby often. Moreover, every time you plan on nursing, be sure to drink a large glass of water, take prescribed prenatal vitamins, and, most importantly, eat well. You are nourishing not only yourself but also the baby.
4 Tips to Relieve engorgement
Many women experience engorged breasts despite nursing several times a day. It is difficult for newborns to latch on rock-hard breasts. But thankfully, it is entirely normal, and there are things you can do to alleviate engorgement. I have outlined four simple yet highly effective tips to relieve painful engorgement and get the milk flowing:
• Take a warm bath – For those who don’t know, heat stimulates the breast milk flow. Thus, taking a warm shower can significantly help in softening hard, painful breasts. However, keep in mind that in the process, you may lose a little milk. But if you are breastfeeding regularly, there is a lot more where that came from.• Try to remain calm – If the pain is extreme, you can apply a bag of frozen veggies or an ice pack to the breasts to relieve the pain. Another tried and trusted remedy is using cabbage leaves. Yup, you heard that right. Simply keep a big head of green cabbage in a freezer or fridge and whenever your breasts feel sore, peel off a leaf and place it in your bra. Voila! An instant breast-relieving ice pack.• Lie down on your stomach – For many women, laying down on the stomach has soothed engorgement discomfort and pain. Thanks to the pull of gravity.• Use a breast pump – Exercising a small amount of milk with a breast pump or manually can help soften the breasts and make it easier for the baby to latch on them.
Is Your Baby Getting Enough Milk?
Another primary concern of several first-time mothers is ensuring their child is receiving enough milk. It is impossible to measure the ounces (until you are bottle feeding or pump-feeding only). Remember, if you see and hear your newborn swallowing, know that they are drinking the milk. Your baby should be filling their diapers at least eight times a day with soft, yellow stools and urine. You’ll know they’re receiving all the necessary nourishment when they do. Nevertheless, if the baby exhibits any of the signs given below, I strongly advise you to call your pediatrician:
• The baby’s skin is turning yellow.• The baby’s stools are dark in color and hard.• The baby is frequently acting fussy and/or feeling lethargic.• The baby stops suckling after ten minutes or less.
Breastfeeding Mini Must-Have Checklist
Below is a list of nursing gear and items that should make the entire nursing process so much easier for you and the baby, increasing your odds of breastfeeding longer.
• Nursing support bras – Get many of them and look for a style that does not include an underwire as the wire can prod into the milking duct and impede milk production.• Nursing pillow – Nursing pillows are a breastfeeding mother’s best friend! They’re an inexpensive way to help you position and hold the baby more easily.• Lanolin ointment – Get this or any other cream or lotion designed for breastfeeding mothers. It can do wonders for soothing sore nipples.• Breast pump – Buy whichever you like – electric or manual. Breast pumps can be excellent in relieving engorgement. They can even enable you to store extra breast milk for later use.• Nursing pads – Perfect for catching milk leaks, saving you from tons of laundry.
There you have it – everything about breastfeeding a baby! If you have anything you’d like to add to this breastfeeding guide, feel free to let me know in the comments below.
Until next time!