9 Things You Need To Know About Breastfeeding Newborn
It’s a well-established fact that breast milk has many positive influences for the baby and the mother. But it’s not always easy. There are so many things every mother needs to know about breastfeeding. In this article we provide information and tips while covering the most basic things every mother needs to know about breastfeeding.
Babies that are breastfed are known to be less vulnerable then formula fed babies to respiratory problems, ear infections, cold and flu. Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of type 1 and 2 diabetes, leukemia, obesity, heart disease and sudden infant death syndrome. Since breast milk is very easy to digest, breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from constipation, reflux and allergies. Breastfeeding is also good for the mother. The hormone oxytocin, which is produced while breastfeeding, helps the uterus to contract quicker after birth.
Breastfeeding is thought to have a positive effect in reducing the development of breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol later in life.
1. Breast milk is the complete food for babies
The importance of breast milk cannot be overstated. Research has repeatedly shown that breast milk is the only food that babies really need for the first 6 months.
Breast milk is an important source of antibiotics and immune factors that help protect babies against infections and disease their whole life. The effect that breastfeeding has on the relationship between mother and child is also a very important factor that should not be overlooked.
2. First milk or Colostrum
The first milk produced by the mother is called colostrum. It is very important for the baby, colostrum is very rich in antibiotics that are of great value for the newborn baby.
After the first three or four days the milk slowly starts changing into mature milk and after about 10-14 days the milk is considered to be mature. The flow of colostrum is slower than the mature milk so it’s helpful with the learning process babies go through the first few days of their lives learning to breastfeed properly.
3. It is important to start breastfeeding right after birth
The first touch a mother has with her baby is an important one which is the reason why babies are in most cases laid at the mother’s chest, skin to skin, right after birth. That is done to stimulate the baby’s feeding and the mother’s milk production. Lying skin to skin has the effect that the baby starts looking for the breast and in turn the mother starts making more milk.
Since babies are often very alert and interested in feeding in the first hour after birth it can be important to remain skin to skin with your baby until you have had a successful feeding session. The closeness also helps with preventing the baby getting stressed after birth and also helps with the other’s recovery.
4. Getting a good latch is the key to successful breastfeeding
One of the most important things about successful breastfeeding is getting the baby to latch correctly to your breast. Without a good latch the baby is not going to get as much milk as it needs. Your nipples may get sore and the production of milk is going to suffer without a good latch.
One of the key factors in getting a good latch is bringing your baby to the breast not your breast to the baby. Another important factor is that babies are going to latch better if they are hungry, so it is better to feed them when they are hungry rather than feeding them on a predetermined schedule. A good method to see if the baby is hungry is touching the baby on the cheek. If the baby turns its head and opens the mouth then most likely it is hungry.
Babies need to have a good mouthful of areola to latch perfectly. Here are three steps to help your baby latch correctly:
- When you are getting ready to breastfeed support your breast with your finger underneath it and thumb on top. Use you dominant hand to hold the baby’s head and the other hand to hold the breast. You need to place the nipple between the baby’s nose and upper lip, when the baby opens wide pull the baby quickly onto the breast leading with its chin.
- It is important to let the baby feed as long as it is wants. While the baby is taking long drawing sucks it is still feeding. When the baby is slowing down and its eyes close it’s a good idea to compress the breast deeply for about 5-7 seconds to get the baby sucking again. If the baby does not start sucking again switch sides. There is no rule for how long babies need to breastfeed. When they are young it is generally 10-20 minutes on each side, although a bit shorter on the second breast.
- When it is time to switch sides slide your pinkie in between the breast and the baby’s gum to break the suction, when you hear a pop then it’s free to turn over to the second breast.
5. The right breastfeeding position
This is one of the most important things you need to learn since improper positions can cause blockage, mastitis, sore nipples and sleepless nights. Babies need to get enough milk. If the baby is constantly hungry the mother can expect to end up with sore muscles and aches.
The right position is something you need to practice, it does not come naturally. Finding the right position and practicing is very important since you are going to be spending a lot of time breastfeeding. Below are some of the most common breastfeeding positions:
Cradle Hold (Classic position)
Here you are required to cradle the baby’s head with the crook of your arm. Getting a good armrest is important, either by sitting on a chair with a good armrest or by the use of pillows if you are breastfeeding in bed.
It’s helpful to rest your feed on a chair, coffee table, recliner or any other raised surface to avoid leaning down towards your baby. Not feeling comfortable while breastfeeding will cause sore muscles in the long run. Hold the baby in your lap or on a breastfeeding pillow so the baby lies on its side with its face, stomach and feet facing you directly. Make sure you tuck the baby’s lower arm under yours.
Extend your forearm and hand down the baby’s back to support its neck, spine and bottom. Keep the baby’s knees against your body, across or just below your breast. The baby should lie horizontally or even at a slight angle.
The cradle hold works best for babies that have already learned how to find the nipple. It also works better for full term babies since the baby needs to have stronger neck muscles then in other positions. This is the classic position and most used around the world.
The Cross-Over Hold
This position is ideal for those who are holding small babies or have babies that have a trouble learning to latch on.
If you are feeding from your right breast you need to use your left hand and arm to hold the baby. The baby’s chest and stomach should be facing you directly. Hold the baby’s head with your right hand, use your thumb and fingers behind the baby’s head and below the ear. You should have no problem guiding the baby to the breast while using the cross-over hold.
The Clutch or Football Hold
This is the ideal position for mothers that have had a caesarian section, those who have small children and for mothers that have very large breasts.
Tuck your baby under your arm like a football. You position your baby at your side. The baby should be facing you with its nose at the nipple and feet pointing backwards. Rest your arm on a breastfeeding pillow and support your baby’s back, shoulder, neck and head with your arm. Be careful to not push the baby so much towards your breast that it resists. The mother’s forearm is used to support the baby’s upper back.
A very popular position when feeding during the night. The mother lies on her side and it is best if you have pillows behind your back for support.
It is also a good idea to place a pillow under your head and shoulder and even between your bent knees. This keeps the back and hip in a straight line. With the baby facing you cradle her head with the hand of your arm.
Sometime babies need to be higher or closer to the breast. Then it is a good idea to place a small pillow or a folded blanket under the baby’s head. The ideal thing is that the baby does not have to strain to reach the nipple and the mother should not need to push herself towards the baby.
6. Avoiding sore nipples
The number one reason for sore nipples is that your baby is not latching on correctly. If you think it is not latched on correctly, put your finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to release the suction and start over. Wrong position is most often the problem when your baby does not latch on properly. Every mother has to find out which breastfeeding positions works best for her.
If you suffer from sore nipples here are a few helpful tips.
- Let you nipples dry between feeding, best thing is to let them air dry.
- It’s a known fact that babies suck most vigorously the first couple of minutes. If one of your nipples is sore let your baby start by sucking the less sore nipple.
- Wash your nipples with warm water every day.
- Make sure to change bra pads regularly to make sure your nipples are dry.
- Milk your breast a little before you start breastfeeding. This makes the milk easily available and minimizes suction.
- Some mothers rub lanolin cream on their nipples for soothing but make sure to wash it off before feeding your baby.
7. Watch out for Mastitis
Mastitis is an infection that is most often caused by blocked milk ducts or milk excess. Mastitis is rather common and it is estimated that it occurs in 5-33% of mothers. If you feel sick with flu like symptoms and your breast or breasts are red, hot and sore, then most likely you suffer from mastitis.
Mastitis is easily treated with antibiotics like other infections. Keep in mind that it is important to keep nursing or pumping your infected breast to get the blockage out. Blocked milk ducts are the reason for mastitis so the easiest way to prevent it is to empty your breasts regularly.
8. Holding off on a pacifier
It is an old saying that babies should never be introduced to the pacifier for the first couple of weeks since it might interfere with breastfeeding. Babies are most happy when they are sucking something and it is best for them to use the energy during the first week to practice sucking a breast rather than a pacifier since the techniques are not the same one can interfere with the other.
The official time before introducing a pacifier from the American Academy of Pediatricians is two to three weeks after birth. This is the time the baby needs to have full control of breastfeeding. Introduce the pacifier too early and you can have a problem with breast production since the baby is not feeding as well as it should. A baby not getting full control of breastfeeding methods can prevent it from gaining as much weight, as it needs.
9. Eating right while breastfeeding
Healthy food is important for mothers while breastfeeding. We have a full article on diet while breastfeeding for those who are interested in the subject. Like always it is a good idea to eat a well-balanced food. It is important to eat food that is a good source of calcium. Good diet of fruits, vegetable, whole grain products, all sorts of beans and meats and for the calcium milk and dairy food is ideal. You need to eat a little bit more than usual to compensate for the calories you are losing.
One of the most important things is to drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Since what you eat and drink goes directly to the milk your baby drinks some foods and drinks and even medications should be avoided.
The number one thing is not to smoke or use alcohol or other drugs while breastfeeding. If you have prescription drugs you should always consult your doctor to see if the meds are safe for the baby. Keep in mind that over the counter medication can also be harmful for newborns so always consult with your doctor if the drugs you are taking are baby safe.