Setting Yourself up for Breastfeeding Success
Breastfeeding looks like a straightforward easy experience but it can be surprisingly challenging for the first time breastfeeding mother. Here are some resources, suggestions and tools to set yourself up for a sweet successful experience.
If you are reading this and are still pregnant try to sit topless in the sun for 10 minutes a day, exposing your nipples to direct sunlight helps gently toughen them up. Also, while showering or taking a bath you can use a washcloth and gently rub it over your nipple, don’t rub until you feel pain, rub to the point that you think “hmmm that could feel painful if I kept going” the washcloth will also get your nipples used to some extra stimulation and ease the beginning breastfeeding experience.
I recommend checking out the la leche league website on proper latch (babies connection to your breast) and feeding here. For diagrams on positioning of baby see this link.
It is important for your baby to have your breast deep inside their mouth with their lips flanged (like they are puckering up) around your nipple and some surrounding areola. If your baby is sucking on just your nipple and not the nipple and surrounding areola the latch will be painful.
It is common for first time breastfeeding mothers to experience soreness or some cracking of their nipples in the first 10 days of breastfeeding. If you see that your baby has an improper latch at your breast simply wet a clean finger with your saliva, slide it into your babies mouth alongside your breast and turn it to the side to break your babies suction so you both can try again. Calmly bring your babe back to your chest and stroke the side of their cheek or tickle their chin with your nipple to get them to open wide so you can angle your nipple towards the upper back of their palate for proper depth so there is a good latch.
In the beginning both the baby and mother are learning how to breastfeed and the mother is not used to having so much suction on her breasts. Never fear, you both will learn how feed and it will become a beautiful and enjoyable experience.
It is well worth your time to secure a few simple items before giving birth so you are prepared for a smooth and graceful transition into first time feeding. Here are some tools to help you through the first few weeks of feeding and beyond:
Tall Glasses of Water: Hydration is profoundly important during pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding. While feeding, your babe is not only getting food, they are getting hydration. It is important that the mamma stays juiced up so her milk supply is strong and her baby can receive what he/she needs. Drinking a tall glass of water (follow your thirst, if you are still thirsty keep drinking) just before or while feeding will help your milk flow easily and keep you from feeling parched.
Good Fats In Your Food: Nutrition is paramount while pregnant and continues to be while breastfeeding. Your child is literally being built off of your breast milk and everything that you choose to consume. Having healthy fats in your diet in the first few weeks will help your milk come in and create richer milk which helps your child’s growth and brain development. Good fats are fats that are organic, unprocessed and either from an animal or uncooked plant source. A good piece of steak or salmon is packed with nutrients needed to sustain mamma and babe, if mamma is vegetarian then turning towards raw, organic, cold pressed coconut oil (use it like butter on toast, in oatmeal, on potatoes – pretty much anything) as well as cold pressed, organic olive oil (don’t sauté with it, pour it over your food after it is cooked for maximum health benefit. Can be added to soups, salads, rice etc.) is wonderful. Eggs, avocados, and nut butters are also fabulous sources of healthy nourishing fats. The first few weeks after giving birth are all about maximum nourishment and rebuilding your body, not a time to worry about loosing weight. Your happy breastfeeding babe will nurse any extra fats or food you consume right off of you as they gain healthy weight.
Lanolin: Helps keep your nipples hydrated while first learning how to feed and prevents cracking and bleeding. Ideally the lanolin would be used in a situation where you are topless after feeding and alternating the breast which you are feeding from. For example, nurse your babe on your right breast until they are full then apply the lanolin to the right nipple to protect it. When your babe is hungry again they can nurse off of your left breast and after the second feeding the lanolin should be absorbed by the right nipple. Lanolin residue is not harmful to the baby, but large amounts of it should be gently wiped off before attempting to feed – this will prevent your child from slipping all over your breast and getting an improper latch. The best quality of natural lanolin I have found can be purchased here.
Proper Pillow or Prop For Shoulder Support: The first few weeks your babe will be feeding round the clock and it is important to have proper support for your upper body while you feed. Different pillows work for different stages, I personally have had the best experience with this pillow while my daughter was small (this pillow also doubles as a great way to prop babe up when they are wanting to see what is going on in the room). Once she was three months old we switched to this Sweet Pea Pillow which doubled as a fabulous maternity pillow while I needed support when sleeping with my pregnant belly. Having a pillow to rest your babe on takes the strain off of your body and allows you to fully relax which also helps your milk flow and the overall enjoyment of connecting to your child.
Happy Bonding and Nursing!