Many women desire to breastfeed their child and often set goals for how long they would like to do so. Some moms hope to breastfeed for 3 months, 6 months, or a year. Regardless of how long you like to breastfeed, it is important to start breastfeeding correctly.
The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be tiresome, overwhelming, and flat out painful. But the reward you feel as a mother supplying your child with the benefits of breastfeeding is worth all of that and so much more. The early weeks of breastfeeding are the hardest, but once you master it, you won't ever forget!
It's all about the LATCH
There are so many techniques and each lactation nurse and specialist will recommend a different one. But once you get this down, everything else will come together. For a good latch, both of your baby's lips should pout out and cover nearly all of your areola. If you hear your baby swallowing- you're doing it! You may even feel your baby's jaw move back and forth. However, if you feel pain while nursing, he may not be latched correctly.
- Try pinching your breast behind the areola to form a longer version of your nipple, matching the shape to your baby's mouth
- Fix baby's lips- if you notice that your child's lips aren't flared out, and you're experiencing pain or soreness, it's okay to adjust! While breastfeeding, simply pull the lips out slightly. This will make you more comfortable and in turn produce more milk.
- Practice making a wider mouth- children mimic what they're shown. As crazy as it may seem, open your mouth wide in the shape of an "O" and gently tug on your baby's chin. Your newborn will slowly come around to copying a wider mouth.
- Cradle- try placing your baby's head in the crook of your arm. This helps to support your baby's back and bottom with your arm and hand. Your child should be lying sideways facing you, and your breast should be in front of your child's face.
- Football- this position is exactly as it sounds. Tuck your baby under your arm like a football with their head resting in your hand. Doctors recommend this if you're recovering from a cesarean section or if your baby is very small.
- Super tired and want to lay down?That's possible too! Lie on your side with your baby facing you, using pillows to prop up your head and shoulders. Again, this position is great for moms recovering from a c-section.
Sore nipples are often a big reason why most moms don't continue breastfeeding. It's easier to prevent sore nipples than it is to treat them. But if you already have sore, chafing nipples, you need to take care of them!
In most cases, sore nipples are a sign that something isn't right.
- Vary your nursing positions. Soft, tender skin used frequently will become sensitive. Especially if you stay in the same positions. Try switching it up! This may relieve pain for you and make it easier on baby.
- An ice pack or heating pad, before and after feedings, can help with swelling and soothe the area.
- Let your skin air dry between feedings. Make sure to be completely dry before putting on a bra.
Most importantly remember that this is a learning process for you and your baby. A lot of veteran moms suggest joining a support group through social media, contacting Le Leche League, or even calling a friend who's done this to talk things out. These resources can help you find the best positions for you and baby as well as give you information on how to increase your breast milk supply.
The incredible thing is that you are supporting your little baby in a big way because you already want what's best for them.