You’ve birthed your baby – one of the most magical moments of your life. And now you’re breastfeeding your treasure and it’s not going like you thought or had planned. What’s a mother to do when breastfeeding issues arise? Here are some tips for breastfeeding your newborn.
Nurse on Demand
Offer the breast as soon as baby gives you that first hint of a cue that he’s hungry. Cues can be rooting towards the side, towards his hand, rooting towards your chest, moving head side to side – these are your first signs of “I’m hungry.” and the perfect time to start nursing baby. At newborn age and sometimes most of the first year, baby should be nursing at least 10-12 times at day. If it feels like you’re nursing your newborn all.the.time. then you’re actually doing exactly what you should be. It should feel like all you do is nurse because that’s really all you do with a newborn…get comfy, watch those movies you never got to watch, or read those books you never got to read, get some water near you, some easy snacks and kick up your feet and nurse. The more he is on the breast – whether it’s nursing actively or just suckling for comfort the more he gets a chance to send signals to your brain to produce breastmilk.
If baby isn’t very demanding, then you may need to wake baby up so that baby nurses at least 10-12 times a day (at least every 2 hours).
Correct his latch
Be patient when latching your newborn on your breast – this is possible when you’ve caught her first feeding cue and not her late one (fussiness/crying). She may take some time to latch on – almost like forgetting that she was hungry and then she’ll come back to the breast as you offer. But wait until she opens her mouth wide and then quickly move her head to your breast (not your breast to her head). When getting ready to latch, the tip of her nose and the tip of your nipple should be parallel as you try to latch her on. Then you do a rapid arm movement of moving her quickly to the breast before she closes her mouth so that as she is closing her mouth it is around your areola. If she latches on and it’s not correct (no fish mouth) than unlatch gently with your pinky to break the suction and try again.
There’s breastfeeding support anywhere you live. You can find these supportive circles of women at La Leche League, church groups, local natural parenting boutiques like Granola Babies, online forums. Join one, join more than one. Attend as much as you can as in these groups of breastfeeding women you’ll find confidence, support, tips, share stories, hear similar stories to yours, and most importantly a sisterhood. These are women that will help you in mothering, in breastfeeding and with whom you will grow stronger as a mother together learning from each other.
For example in our free breastfeeding support group at Granola Babies, as certified lactation educators we share tips that will help, check latch and also provide support. During our meetings, other breastfeeding mothers also share and hear very similar stories and how they were able to pass hurdles. All that makes a huge difference…huge.
You are your newborn’s mirror (see previous blog post about this topic) – whatever you put out he will reflect. If you’re worried, frustrated, not feeling confident, or anxious (common emotions when you so much want to make it work but not feeling confident about it) – he will pick up on those emotions and reflect them back to you with cries, pushing away, fussy and/or not wanting to latch on. So before nursing, take a deep breath, get a glass of water, believe in your body’s amazing ability to feed your baby and just look into his eyes and smile.
Keep Baby Close
Keep your newborn close to you. Babywear with a comfortable baby carrier (see selection at Granola Babies), hold him, let him suckle for comfort and sleep. Let him be near your breasts as much as possible. These special moments will help your baby and boost your confidence as a mother.
Take care of yourself
You just had a baby and so there’s all your own healing to do. Go to bed early even though it feels you’re using your “me” time to sleep (you’ll get it back later I promise), take at least one nap with him during the day, let anyone and everyone that offers know exactly how to help you (yeah actually I’d love that help! laundry, take out please, bring a meal, can you clean up the kitchen? — don’t be afraid to ask). And don’t rush to get back to normal – the first 6 weeks should be just adjusting and enjoying the babymoon with baby and so take your time.
Before supplementing, consult with a good lactation consultant to verify that supplementing is necessary. Should you have to supplement, nurse first, supplement second. Always give your baby a chance at the breast first and then when he is popping off the first breast, burp and offer the second until she done (popping off). Then look at your baby – is she satisfied? Is she still fussy? Does she need a topper? And then if needed finger feed him or use a SNS with your expressed milk, donor milk (milk from another mother and the recommend World Health Organization second choice besides your breastmilk) or if you are not able to find donor milk, supplement with formula (third options after your breastmilk and donor milk).
Breastfeeding questions? Please contact your local La Leche League group or contact me at anytime.