Sonali Shivlani, Internationally Certified Pregnancy Consultant and a child nutrition counsellor helps you start your breastfeeding journey on a positive note, and urges you not to give up on your dreams of giving your baby the breast possible start.
Breastfeeding is one of the most important aspects of the postpartum period, but at times the most neglected. More often than not, mothers come to me to join classes to prepare for labour; they don’t seem to be concerned with the ‘what after labour’ bit. The fact remains, labour will be done with in a few hours; the doctor will be there to help manage the same. When she’s done, it’s you and your baby facing the world together. On the other hand, breastfeeding can last for beyond one year and you are going to be doing it on your own. In my opinion, understand what to expect when it comes to breastfeeding, is one of the most important sessions in any prenatal series.
The benefits of breastmilk
There is no denying that breastmilk is the best food for your baby. Breastmilk is completely digestible, builds immunity, prevents allergies, improves IQ, reduces the risk of obesity, promotes bonding, and much more. There are many benefi ts for the mother as well. It helps you to lose weight, helps the uterus to shrink, provides protection against hormonerelated cancers, especially breast cancer, is convenient, and of, course economical. There is no other food available in this world which is available at the right time, the right place, the right quantity and at the right temperature. So what better reasons than these to give breastfeeding our best shot, right?
During pregnancy: There really is no preparation needed during pregnancy when it comes to breastfeeding. However, you may want to do a little reading, maybe take a breastfeeding class so that you are aware of the right way to get started. Ask your doctor to check for fl at and inverted nipples as this can give a lot of grief while getting started, once the baby is born.
Birth: As soon as the baby is born, latch the baby to the breast. Do not worry if the baby does not do a marathon suckling effort. Even gentle nuzzling and licking is a good beginning. What is important is skin to skin contact. Your baby has just entered a strange new world and it is naturally scary for the her. Being close to the mother feels familiar because of the mother’s heart beat and her familiar scent.
The first few days after birth: Most breastfeeding relationships are made or fail in the hospital itself. You need to feed the baby every two to three hours from the day she’s born. But remember, your baby doesn’t know that nursing is a method to feed, and hence you need to be patient and gentle and most importantly, perseverance, when teaching her. You may be tempted to rest or spend time with the scores of visitors who are coming to congratulate you. And while that’s perfectly normal to do so, remember, you’re on a feeding schedule, so don’t miss even one feed, especially if you want your baby to learn and feed effectively. You will also require to concentrate on getting her to latch properly. This means, she will need to take the entire nipple and aerola into her mouth. Remember, if you are comfortable, this will translate to your baby being comfortable too, and that’s when breastfeeding gets off to a good start!
Key things to remember:
- Take as many pillows as possible to support your back and arms.
- Make sure that you have turned the baby towards you. The phrase to remember is baby’s tummy to moms tummy.
- Bring the baby close to the breast and tickle the baby’s upper lip with the nipple.
- Encourage the baby to open her mouth wide and take a major portion of the areola in the mouth.
- It should not hurt you as baby suckles. If it is painful then move the baby away and try again.
- You may want to keep the baby unwrapped to encourage the baby to be more wakeful and to complete a feed.
- Each feed can last for fifteen to twenty minutes and it is preferable to use both breasts at each feed.
Burping: Holding the baby upright for a burp between breasts, once the feed has been completed, is important. This helps the excess air that the baby has swallowed to exit, allowing her to feel more comfortable. Hold the baby in an upright position for a few minutes and as you gently pat her back. The sound of the burp is not really important so don’t keep waiting for it.
How to know that your baby has fed well?
This is a common concern for new mothers. How do I know that my baby has fed well? It’s really simple. All you have to do is keep track of the number of times the baby passes urine. Her input v/s output. Once the baby is five days old and the baby is passing urine a minimum of seven times in a 24-hour period, ouknow that your baby has fed well. Additionally, keep track of the weight gain. Don’t keep weighing your baby at home and using your own bathroom scales is surely a bad idea. Keep track of the weight gain at every doctor’s visit. Your baby should gain weight as per her growth curve. Remember, exclusively breast fed babies do appear lean.
Alternative feeding methods
There are times that you may feel the need to supplement. However, do not supplement the baby unless the doctor has ecommended the same. Cow’s milk and other animal milk should not be given to the baby in the first one year of life. If at all a supplement is required, it is specially-prepared infant formula. While feeding your baby, it is best to avoid the use of a bottle. Bottles can cause nipple confusion, overfeeding, infections and jaw development issues. Once you introduce your baby to a bottle, it can get very difficult to get the baby to latch at the breast, and this can cause a lot of frustration for the mother and the child.
Remember, breastfeeding is a natural process although it can take some getting used to. If you face any diffi culties it is better to reach out for some help with a lactation counsellor or your doctor. Breastfeeding problems are generally minor, and can be handled with ease, provided you have asked for help in the initial phase itself. |MB