by Aruna Kamath
When I used see mommies nursing their babies, I used to think it was one of the easiest things. How wrong was I! Only after I had a baby, I realised how challenging and discomforting it was.
I don’t want to sound discouraging but believe me breastfeeding is hard. To be successful, you have to be persistent and really toil at it. And for that you need tons of patience and commitment.
No doubt, once you’ve got the hang of it, breastfeeding does get easy with each passing day. But even after you’ve gone past the struggling stage, it’s not all over. You still need loads of determination and grit to be able to continue with it. A lot of my friends, who had started off breastfeeding enthusiastically, quit far too soon, not being able to cope with it.
While all that I’ve said may make breastfeeding sound daunting, this post is an earnest attempt to educate new and soon-to-be moms who are clueless about nursing. Breastfeeding is the best choice – and the healthiest one – for you and your baby. Here are some tips that could make your experience less daunting and easy.
· Try to place baby at the breast as soon as possible after birth. Ideally, this will happen right in the delivery room. Ensure that your practitioner will allow you to nurse in the birthing or delivery room if all goes normal.
· Babies only minutes old will often crawl up to the breast from the mother’s abdomen, and start breastfeeding all by themselves. This process may take up to an hour or longer, but this time is vital for you and your baby to start learning about each other. Babies who “self-attach” run into far fewer breastfeeding problems. This skin-to-skin contact will also help to keep your baby warm.
· Try to get some professional help, such as a lactation specialist. In the hospital, you can ask if a lactation consultant or a nurse who is knowledgeable about breastfeeding can observe your technique. If you leave the hospital before receiving any guidance, make sure that someone with breastfeeding expertise evaluates your technique.
· If possible, try to stay in the same room with your baby.
· Limit visitors to allow more nursing opportunities. This may mean limiting visiting privileges at first to just your spouse. This is probably better anyway, since it allows the three of you to bond right away.
· As far as possible, try not to use artificial nipples.
· Nurse on demand, up to twelve feedings a day. This will keep your baby happy and will increase your milk supply to meet the demand as it grows. Also, don’t let your baby sleep through a feeding. If it’s been three hours since your newborn last fed, then it’s time to wake him or her up.
· Nurse for as long as the baby wants. Most newborns require ten to forty-five minutes to complete a feeding.
· Try not to impose too many restrictions on the length or frequency of breastfeeding. Watch your baby, not the clock!
· A baby who drinks well will not be on the breast for hours at a time. Thus, if he is, it is usually because he is not latching on well and not getting the milk that is available. Get help to fix the baby’s latch, and use compression to get the baby more milk.
· Don’t try and feed your baby if she is screaming. If crying has begun, do some rocking and soothing before you start nursing. You can also try offering your finger to suck on until the baby calms down.
· The key to successful breastfeeding is a proper latch. Before you leave the hospital you should be shown how to get your baby latched on properly. You should also know that he is actually getting milk from the breast.
· Position yourself comfortably with back support, pillows supporting your arms and in your lap, and your feet supported by a footrest or a telephone book
· Position baby close to you, with his hips flexed, so that he does not have to turn his head to reach your breast. His mouth and nose should be facing your nipple. If possible, ask your helper to hand you the baby once you are comfortable.
· Support your breast so it is not pressing on your baby’s chin. Your baby’s chin should drive into your breast.
· Attach or latch baby onto your breast. Encourage him to open his mouth wide and pull him close by supporting his back (rather than the back of his head) so that his chin drives into your breast. His nose will be touching your breast. Your hand forms a “second neck” for your baby.
· If you are feeling pain, detach baby gently and try again.
· As long as you are comfortable and baby is nursing successfully, use whatever works for you. There are a variety of breastfeeding positions to try.
· It is very important to bring the baby to your nipple height. Leaning over your baby can cause backaches, neck and shoulder strain, or sore nipples. – 2 .
· It goes without saying that, its important for mothers to eat a healthy and nutritious diet. After all, whatever you eat is passed on to your baby through the breast milk.
· Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids in any which form you like – water, soups, fresh juices. At any point in time, if you feel your milk production has reduced, simply replenish yourself with fluids. It will help restore/increase your milk supply.