While there are many important steps in creating a successful breastfeeding experience, here are five valuable tips from our lactation expert. The first 48 hours after birth are essential to successful breastfeeding, so read up early!
Skin to skin
As much as you can in the first few days, lay baby on your chest, tummy to tummy, undressed down to the diaper. When baby is skin to skin, he'll cue to breastfeed more often. Additionally, when your baby is close, you'll notice that he's cueing and be able to help him latch before he begins to cry. It's easier for both mom and baby to latch well, when baby is calm.
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It's a good thing if your baby wants to eat, "all of the time"
A baby who nurses very frequently in the first few days (ie: more than 8 times in 24 hours) will do a great job of bringing in a copious milk supply, will not lose excessive amounts of weight, and is less likely to have issues with jaundice. Don't hesitate to latch your baby whenever she seems interested (ie: sticking out her tongue, putting her hands in his mouth, chewing on the swaddle blanket, or wanting to suck) even if she just ate.
The more you breastfeed, the faster your milk will come in, and frequent feeds in the first days will help you make more milk in the months to come. It can feel exhausting to nurse so frequently, but it is worth it: you will have plenty of milk and a thriving baby.
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A good latch
While it's common to have some nipple tenderness in the first few days, your nipples should not get damaged. A good latch is what creates comfortable breastfeeding for both mom and baby. If the baby is latched on poorly (just on the nipple, without areola in his mouth too), it will most definitely hurt. Further, when a baby is latched well, he will be able to remove colostrum from the breast much more easily than if he has a poor latch. If it hurts when baby is sucking, get help with your latch, right away!
Keep your baby awake while nursing
Babies are often very sleepy eaters in the first few days. It's so comfortable for them to nuzzle in close to mom, and drift off. If baby latches, does a few sucks and falls asleep, she won't be doing her job of drinking colostrum, and your breasts won't be told to make milk. In turn, milk comes in later, baby loses too much weight and may become fussier or sleepier. So, it's important to keep baby awake and encourage her to keep sucking and swallowing (looks like big jaw movement). Rub her head or feet, raise her arm, firmly massage her back; keep her going!
If things aren't going well in the first few days (baby has lost 10% of his birth weight, is very sleepy or very fussy while feeding, or your nipples are very sore), seek out help from a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) as soon as possible. Problems are easier to fix if dealt with early, and more difficult to resolve when left for even a couple of days more.
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