Because of the many health benefits of breastfeeding, new moms often choose to breastfeed their infants. Breastfeeding can increase your baby’s immunity and reduce her risk for conditions like asthma, obesity and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). For moms, breastfeeding can mean a faster postpartum recovery, reduced risk for breast, uterine and ovarian cancers, and increased bone and heart health.
Tips for Breastfeeding Success
Despite the benefits, many new moms face obstacles as they begin to breastfeed. This is completely normal. As a Baby-Friendly Hospital, the caregivers at Women & Babies Hospital are here to help. These are some of the tried-and-true tips we share with new moms be help them be successful in breastfeeding.
Practice Skin-to-Skin Contact
Right after birth, hold your newborn on your chest, skin-to-skin, with nothing between you and your baby. Your smell, touch, and sound (heartbeat) will be soothing to your baby, wake up her feeding reflexes, and help your milk supply. Babies are often interested in feeding the first hour after birth.
Continue to spend as much skin-to-skin time as possible over the first days and weeks after birth to get breastfeeding off to a good start.
Learn Your Baby’s Hunger Cues
Crying is a late indicator of hunger. Breastfeeding will be easier if you learn you baby’s early hunger cues. As you spend time together (the more the better), you’ll begin to recognize those cues. Feeding on a schedule often doesn’t work for newborn, so look for these common cues:
- Fists moving to baby's mouth
- Head turning to look for mama's breast
- Becoming more alert and active
- Sucking on their hands or smacking their lips
Learn the Best Latch
A good latch is important for successful breastfeeding. You’ll want to find the best position to get a deep, massaging latch. This helps with both milk transfer and you comfort. Many women struggle with this. It's normal. Although not easy, try to be patient. Start by getting in a comfortable chair with great back support. This short video offers some step by step guidance.
Take Care of Your Body
When you're breastfeeding, the best thing you can do for your baby and yourself is to take good care of your body.
- Eat a healthy diet, high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If your doctor recommends, take a multivitamin.
- Stay hydrated with water, juice and milk. Moderate amounts of caffeine are OK, but if you feel it’s interfering with your baby’s sleep, make an adjustment. If you have an alcoholic drink, wait two hours before breastfeeding.
- Don’t smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke. Smoking while you breastfeed will transfer nicotine to your baby. Secondhand smoke can increase the risk of SIDS and respiratory illnesses.
- Rest as much as you can. As the old adage goes, try to sleep when your baby sleeps.
- Monitor your medications. While many medications are safe to take while you’re breastfeeding, it’s always best to check with your health care provider. In some cases, women with chronic health conditions may have to consider alternatives to breastfeeding.
- Take care of your nipples. Let the milk dry naturally on your nipple after feeding. This can soothe your nipples. If you’re short on time, gently pat your nipple dry. If your breasts leak between feedings, use bra pads and change them when they become wet. Limit soap and other cleansers that might contact your nipples. If your nipples are dry or cracked, use purified lanolin after each feeding.
Ask For Help
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider or lactation consultant after you leave the hospital when have any questions or concerns. And ALL moms have questions and concerns. The good news is there is a supportive community ready to help you.