Breastfeeding Guide for the first month of baby
By : Akhila Muralidhar
For new mothers, the first few weeks with the baby is a learning time. Right from breastfeeding, to putting babies to sleep, to changing nappies, to massage and bathe the newborn, to put on clothes for the baby…Oh, the list is endless. For a new mother, the first month is like a crash course in baby management!
You can take help for all other tasks related to the baby, except for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a learning for both you and the baby.
Giving a Good Start to Breastfeeding
Here are some tips that can help you to give a good start to nursing your little bundle of joy.
- Put your baby to breast immediately after birth.
- Help your baby latch to your breast correctly. She may not be able to learn latching immediately, so have patience and guide her.
- Always keep your baby with you in the same room, throughout the day, so that you can nurse her whenever necessary.
- Offer to nurse her whenever your baby shows feeding cues like lip smacking, sucking the fist etc.
- Breastfeeding, not only provides a sense of security and comfort for the baby, which has just come out of the cozy environment in the womb, but also provides nutrition as well.
- The time interval between 2 feeds is very less for newborns, as their tummies are small. The average number of feeds of a newborn is 8-12 times per day. So, be ready for sleepless nights as the babies feed through day and night.
- Once you and the baby establish a comfortable feeding method and pattern, breastfeeding will be a time to relax and enjoy each other.
Breastfeeding Problems Faced by New Mothers
New mothers, or for that matter, a mother of 4 kids also might not get a smooth start in breastfeeding a newborn, as every baby is different. Let us discuss the common problems that breastfeeding mothers face.
#1. Delayed Onset of Milk
The first milk your baby will drink is called Colostrum. The mature milk will usually arrive on the third or fourth day after birth. However, for some, it takes 7-14 days for mature milk to arrive. The exact cause for this delay has not yet been determined.
However, the new mother can engage in expressing the milk often to stimulate milk production, drink plenty of water, consume healthy food, and try to engage in skin-skin contact with the baby.
#2. Engorgement of Breasts
Engorgement happens when you overproduce milk and the baby is unable to consume it. It will take a few days to establish demand-supply production of milk. Engorgement can cause latching problems in the baby, as she may not be able to effectively latch onto an engorged breast. Also, engorgement of breasts, if left unattended, can lead to mastitis.If your breast is engorged, try expressing the milk immediately. You can either store the milk for subsequent feeds or just throw it away.
#3. Latching Problems
Your little one is new to breastfeeding as much as you are. Most babies take some time to get latched to your breast correctly. Incorrect latching may result in your baby sucking just the nipple and thus getting more of foremilk.
To help your baby latch correctly, position your baby correctly. You can either use the:
- cradle-hold position
- cross-cradle position
- clutch-hold position or football position
- side-lying position.
Pull her in close to your body, so that the head and the body are turned to face you, and the mouth is at nipple level. When she opens her mouth wide, ensure that the entire areola is covered by her mouth. This is the ideal latching position of the baby. You can express few drops of milk by hand and gently massage on your baby’s lips.
#4. Sore or Cracked Nipples
Initially, there will be some sensitivity or slight pain when you start breastfeeding. But if the pain is severe, talk to your doctor or the lactation consultant immediately. Sore nipples could mean that the baby is not latched on correctly. Always ensure that your baby’s mouth is wide open when she tries to latch and the entire areola of your breast is covered by her mouth.
If your nipples have turned pink and also hurt between feedings, it could be an infection, which could mean that the baby is infected as well. Rush to the pediatrician immediately.
#5. Not Enough Breastmilk
Breastfeeding is a demand-supply process. Milk is produced according to the demand of the baby. However, if the baby is formula-fed in between, chances are that your milk supply will be reduced.
Sometimes, the quantity of milk supply is reduced due to mother’s health conditions like hormonal problems, hypothyroidism, anatomical problems, medication, etc.
It is better to avoid bottles and pacifiers until the time you breastfeed, as these can affect the baby’s ability to latch correctly. Excessive use of bottles and pacifiers may also make your baby fussy to suck milk from the breast. If you have any medical conditions or if you are on medication, and you feel that your milk supply is reducing then talk to a lactation consultant immediately.
How often should you breastfeed?
A newborn’s average number of feeds per day is between 8-10. Frequent feedings will stimulate your breasts to produce more milk. Please remember that breastfed babies feed more number of times than formula-fed babies. This is because breastmilk is easier to digest than formula milk, which makes the baby feed often.
As the newborns get older, they will nurse less often and by the time your baby completes one month, she may nurse 7-9 times in a day. This is the time you can establish a schedule for the baby’s feeding. However, newborn babies should never go hungry for more than 4 hours, not even overnight.
Related: 11 Tips for Breastfeeding in Public
How do you check if your baby is getting enough milk?
After a week, your baby should be passing urine at least 6-8 times a day and pass stools which are yellow in colour and seedy in texture. The frequency of the stool can vary from every time after feeding to once in 2-3 days.
Self-care for the New Mother
Managing a newborn is exasperating, especially after a hard labour or cesarean. As a new mother, you should never forget to take care of yourself first. Always remember that a healthy mom has a healthy baby.
Here are few tips for new moms for self-care:
- Take lots of rest. Sleep whenever the baby sleeps.
- Eat nutritious food. A balanced diet, which gives good nutrition is not only good for your baby but for you as well.
- If you have to take any medicines, always consult your doctor or lactation consultant before doing so.
- When you are breastfeeding, always keep your nipples clean. Wear cotton clothes. Do not use soap or similar products to wash your nipple.
- Take a break. Yes, go out with your spouse once in a while. Leave the baby with a babysitter or family members. You can express and store your milk for the baby, at such times.
- Involve your husband in taking care of the baby. Let him be involved in changing nappies, putting the baby to sleep and even in burping the baby. It will not only help you in getting sufficient rest but also it will help in developing the bond between the father and the child.
- Do not worry, if you get frequent mood swings or feel anxious about the baby often. Mood swings are common after delivery due to hormonal fluctuations. These symptoms are referred to as Baby blues. However, if your symptoms persist for more than 3 weeks, consult your doctor immediately as it could indicate postpartum depression.
- Finally, be confident of breastfeeding your baby. Nature has given women an ability to nurture their offspring, and you are always capable of meeting the child’s milk demand.
- For a new mother, the only thing that is required in abundance is patience. Never fret too much over the baby’s number of feeds, sleeping hours, number of stools, etc. You can always turn to your Mom, Granny or any other elderly women in your family for advice.
Also Read: 10 Breastfeeding Myths Busted
A new mother will obviously, be very concerned even if there is a slight variation in the baby’s routine. Your baby will be just fine, if she is feeding well every day, passing urine and stools and gaining weight.
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