Breastfeeding – that beautiful interaction between mother and child that is integral for establishing and solidifying your bond. Sometimes breastfeeding can be a magical and peaceful experience for mothers, and sometimes it can be extremely stressful and painful. Here are 5 helpful tips for new mothers who may be a little anxious about breastfeeding their newborn for the first time!
One of the most important things you as the mama can do for your baby is to remember to relax. Your baby will be able to sense right away if you are tense and nervous, and as a result they may not latch on correctly. It is perfectly normal and expected that as a new mom you’re going to be nervous about breastfeeding for the first time, so try and take measures that will help you relax and feel at ease. Examine your environment – if you feel that it is in some way contributing to your stress, try and get a change of scenery! Take a few slow, deep breaths beforehand and focus in on your happy place. Remember, breastfeeding is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your new bundle of joy, so it should be an enjoyable experience for both of you!
The comfort of you and your baby is one of the key elements that can determine whether your breastfeeding experience is a pleasant or painful one. Each feeding can vary greatly in length: one may last only 5 minutes, while another could be closer to an hour. If you consistently feed while in uncomfortable positions, this could lead to neck, back, and shoulder pains further down the road. What’s more, if you are constantly adjusting your position in order to try to get more comfortable, this will disrupt your baby’s feeding. Two of the most popular feeding positions for mothers are lying on your side with your baby facing you, or sitting in a reclined position with your baby lying in your arms or resting on a pillow or cushion. Ultimately, whatever position you find brings you the most comfort is the one you should stick with!
Your baby will also soon develop their preferred position for feeding, and the sooner you can recognize what it is, the easier and quicker it will be to get them situated and nursing. Generally, your baby should be in a position where:
- Their mouth is at the same level as your nipple
- Their head is slightly tilted backward
- Their chin is touching your breast and their nose is clear
- They should latch onto your entire areola and not just the nipple
Much like you, your baby’s feeding position may vary depending on what they prefer. Just ensure that they seem at ease, comfortable, and can easily breathe.
You’ll Have Enough Milk – We Promise!
A common fear amongst new mamas is that they won’t be able to produce enough milk to feed their newborn. If this is a worry that you have, don’t fret! Your body’s milk production depends primarily on your baby’s needs. When your baby nurses, it stimulates the release of the hormones prolactin and oxytocin, which then further stimulate more milk production: the more your baby nurses, the more milk you’ll produce.
The makeup of your milk also changes throughout your baby’s breastfeeding journey depending on how old they are and what nutrients they need. During the first two to three days, your milk is a thick, yellow-orange fluid called colostrum. Colostrum is highly nutritious and contains high levels of antibodies, which help boost your baby’s immune system!
Anticipate Your Baby’s Needs and Wants
Instead of waiting for your baby to cry, signaling that they are hungry, you can learn to anticipate when they might be ready for another feeding. Some tell-tale signs of when your baby is hungry include turning their head repeatedly, sticking out their tongue, sucking on whatever is close to them, and opening and closing their mouth. If you notice any of these signs, give them your breast right away – being able to anticipate and understand your baby will help you form that everlasting bond with them and deepen the level of intimacy between you.
In addition to learning the signs of when your baby is ready to eat, it is also important to let them determine how often and for how long they breastfeed. Afterall, they know their needs better than you do at this point in their life, so refrain from denying them a meal when not enough time has passed or waking them up when you feel too much time has passed between feedings. Sometimes your baby will nurse for only 10 minutes, and sometimes they’ll nurse for closer to 30! Just remember that some babies eat slower or faster than others, and they’ll know when they’ve had enough.
Take Care of Yourself While Breastfeeding
In order for you to provide everything you need for your baby, you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself first! One of the most important things you can do for yourself and for your baby is to stay hydrated – remember that you are still eating and drinking for two! A good strategy is to drink a glass of water every time you breastfeed. This will help replenish your body and also ensure you’re producing enough milk.
Another way you can look after yourself and help ensure that your breastfeeding experience is enjoyable is by taking care of your skin. The skin on your breasts is very delicate and sensitive, and unfortunately it can become dry, cracked, chapped, and irritated over time as you breastfeed, making it extremely painful. Thankfully, there are a plethora of remedies and actions you can take to combat this irritation.
- Don’t overwash your skin. Stick to one or two showers a day using a gentle cleanser.
- Every once in a while, let your breasts air out to avoid any irritation that can come from your clothing.
- Apply a healing product such as a moisturizing balm or serum once you’ve finished feeding. You can also use a balm or moisturizer in-between feedings to soothe your skin and sensitive nipples.
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Read This Related Breastfeeding Blog: https://healthymamabrand.com/blog/breastfeeding-pros-cons