Hey, thanks for taking the time to read this. I am more than happy to share with you some of the breastfeeding tips I got along the way.
If you are pregnant with your first child, check out this article on what to expect as a new mum. It is basically about the things they won’t tell you at your baby shower.
Breastfeeding is a delicate moment for all mums, especially first-time mums. It is a billion-dollar industry for a reason: A mum’s first concern is her baby. Cater to that, and you will profit. Mothers (and fathers) aren’t held back when it comes to satisfying a baby’s primal needs.
I was shocked by the huge amount of money we had to pay to get lactating advice. Yep! Breastfeeding can be so challenging that ‘lactation consultant’ is an actual career path people take to help you feed your baby with ease.
When I got my baby as a new mum I resolved to breastfeed my baby exclusively for 6 months.
In fact, doctors everywhere recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. By exclusive breastfeeding, we mean, feeding the baby with milk only for the 6 months. No juice, food, water or even cow milk. Just mama’s milk.
Benefits of Exclusive Breastfeeding
Breast milk is jam packed with nutrients suitable for your baby’s development– nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and other trace elements. Breastfeeding will boost your baby’s immune system, making them less prone to allergies and asthma. Also, among breastfed babies, there are zero cases of diarrhoea or ear infections.
Breast milk is also easier for the baby’s developing gut to digest, the more the reason to put the thought of infant formulas on hold. When you breastfeed, you will be giving your baby antibodies to fight off viral and bacterial infections. It is no wonder that if a lactating mother catches a cold, the baby is less likely to get it because the components in the milk will change to fight off the cold.
Breastfeeding also gives a baby a sense of security, thanks to the physical closeness, skin-to-skin contact and eye contact. Oh yes, you should make eye contact with your baby while breastfeeding.
Heard of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)? It can be averted by breastfeeding.
Breastfeed your baby to prevent obesity and increase IQ.
Breastfeeding is deeply personal, so don’t feel like a failure if you decide to formula feed. However, if deep down you want to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months, here are breastfeeding tips new moms like you should have in mind:
Breastfeed within the first hour of delivery
This is one of the important breastfeeding tips new moms can use.
Breastfeeding your baby within the first hour of delivery is considered a ‘good start to life’. In the early moments after delivery, your baby will be in a quiet and alert state– ready to learn. In fact, according to Rebecca Manel, Head of International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), ”Newborns are programed to find the breast, and will often find it by themselves when placed on the mother’s chest, skin to skin.’’
Breastfeeding in the hour of delivery means your baby will get colostrum, a yellowish fluid packed with antibodies and other nutrients. Your baby will also develop the suckling reflux which s/he will bank on for the rest of the breastfeeding journey.
If you don’t breastfeed your baby within an hour after delivery, s/he may not have the suckling memory and may be disinterested in suckling altogether, which can be frustrating.
Ensure the baby is latching correctly
If you want to enjoy breastfeeding, ensure your baby gets a good latch. A breast latch is when a baby fastens onto the areola and nipple while breastfeeding.
This is important.
At first, I didn’t know how to latch, so, I gave my baby just the nipple. I cried premium tears. I used to cry with so much pain and resentment while breastfeeding. I visited a lactation consultant who taught me how to latch correctly, and that’s how I began to enjoy breastfeeding my son.
Correct latching ensures the baby is satisfied; triggers your body to produce more milk and prevents sore and cracked nipples.
To latch your baby correctly, ensure the nose is right opposite the nipple so that his head can tilt in an upward direction for the mouth to reach the nipple. Once your baby’s mouth is open, quickly put the areola, not just the nipple. When the areola is in the mouth, your baby will produce swallowing sounds, a sign that s/he is feeding well.
Proper latching is one of the breastfeeding tips all new moms should master if they want to enjoy breastfeeding their children.
Eat healthy food
Breastfeeding is quite an interesting phenomenon. When you eat real healthy food that you love, your brain picks on it and signals your breasts to produce more milk. But if you eat unhealthy food (or food you don’t enjoy) while breastfeeding, your brain shuts down, consequently reducing your milk supply. And who will suffer? Your baby (and you).
So eat a balanced diet. No chips or pizzas for dinner. Keep your meals healthy for the sake of your baby and you. If you are worried about milk supply, ask your lactation consultant to give you a list of lactogenic foods to eat. Lactogenic foods increase milk supply. Foods like oats, green leafy veggies, fruits, coconut oils are good examples.
Ensure your baby’s whole body is facing you
With a tiny baby, it can be risky to just have his head facing you while breastfeeding. Ensure your baby’s belly button is aligned to yours. Expect this to be hard at first if you have never held a baby in your life. God knows I suffered, considering my son was a first for me. I had a phobia for holding babies and this affected how I’d interact with him during my first few days at the hospital.
Can you imagine a mother not knowing to hold her baby while breastfeeding? It’s no big deal, you will learn.
The baby’s whole body should face you.
Pump breast milk
Pumping breast milk isn’t as daunting as you may think. You have the option of expressing milk with your hands, but using a manual or electric pump is even more effective. At least it was for me.
If you are worried about milk supply, remember, breastfeeding is about demand and supply. The more milk comes out of your breasts, either through feeding or pumping, the more your brain registers there is a demand and triggers more production for supply. So, if your baby isn’t breastfeeding directly, make an effort to pump. Expressing or pumping breast milk will reduce the risk of painful engorged breasts. Engorged breasts can lead to mastitis if you aren’t careful. Pump for your own sake if not the baby’s.
Check out these breast pumping tips for new moms.
Your baby should not sleep through feedings
Ideally you are required to breastfeed every 2-3 hours to increase milk production and prevent painful breast engorgement. But sometimes your baby will sleep through his feeding time.
You will have two options in this scenario.
Either wake the baby up to feed or pump the milk to store in your freezer.
When my baby slept through his feeding time, I used to pump the milk instead of waking him up. It worked well for me.
Let the baby guide you
This means breastfeeding your baby when they want.
And you will know. How?
When your baby starts licking his lips, chewing his tongue or rooting, that’s cue.
Rooting is when a baby turns his head while opening the mouth in an attempt to find a nipple.
When I first saw my baby root, I didn’t know that meant he was hungry, so I raised an alarm with the nurse on duty to check ‘why my baby had a stiff neck’. She was kind to explain to me what rooting means.
I remember when my husband and everyone else was in the room as I tried to nurse my newborn, I would get so anxious that there would be no let down.
It would be so stressful hearing them get frustrated when I was hesitant to breastfeed my baby due to cracked or sore nipples.
They bored the hell out of me tbh, but I still love them.
Don’t be afraid to tell people to leave the room so that you can nurse confidently. Also, if you have any other issues in life weighing you down, try to forget about them as you nurse your baby for those 10-20 minutes.
Avoid pacifiers as a substitute for breastfeeding
Giving a pacifier to your hungry baby means you want to pacify them from their ‘hungry reality’. Which is unfair and can have detrimental consequences to the baby’s development. Here is a baby telling you s/he’s hungry only for you to slum their claims as petty by giving a pacifier. Only use a pacifier if your baby is well-fed and just wants to soothe.
Breastfeeding is really hard but super worth the effort. Do not hesitate to ask for help in the event you feel defeated. Ask a friend to help you cook delicious healthy meals if you are too tired to do so yourself; ask your lactation consultant to give you a visit and assess your breastfeeding process. Look for breastfeeding courses online. You are a mother now and everyone wants to help you raise that bundle of joy you got.
You are doing well, mama, even if you feel lost.