Breastfeeding, Know the Basics Before Baby Arrives

Breastfeeding provides an awesome bonding experience between you and your baby. It provides without question, hands-down, the absolute best nutrition for babies.

Here are a few common questions regarding breastfeeding that you may be wondering about during your pregnancy.

What does research show about the benefits of breastfeeding for babies?

  • They have fewer illness…and if they do get sick, the effects are milder.
  • They have fewer ear infections.
  • They are less likely to be admitted to the hospital during their first year.
  • They are 1/3 less likely to die of SIDS.
  • If breast fed for over a year, their risk of developing diabetes is cut in half.

What does research show about the benefits of breastfeeding for mamas?

  • Chances of breast cancer, cervical cancer, and osteoporosis are reduced.
  • The milk-producing hormone pro-lactin has a relaxing effect and stimulates maternal instincts.
  • On-going milk production burns calories, which helps with weight loss after pregnancy.
  • The bond that mama and baby will have is amazing!

How do I prepare for breastfeeding?

The best thing about breastfeeding is that you already have everything you need! You may still have questions on how it will affect daily life, how to get started, or how to handle your work situation. Feeling confident on the topic by reading up or joining a breastfeeding clinic will make the transition easier and more successful for you and your new baby.

How do I get started?

Good old Mother Nature has already taken care of most of it for you. Some general things you need to know to help you get started are:

1. How to position baby correctly and comfortably

  1. Make sure you are comfortable…use pillows supporting your arms and in your lap.
  2. Position baby as close to you as possible, so that he does not have to turn his head to reach your breast.
  3. Support your breast so it’s not pressing on your baby’s chin. Your baby’s chin should ‘drive’ into your breast.
  4. Latch baby on. Encourage him to open his mouth wide and pull him close by supporting his BACK instead of the back of his HEAD, so that his chin drives into your breast. His nose will be touching your breast.
  5. If it hurts, detach baby and try again.
  6. IT TAKES PRACTICE! so be patient with baby and yourself.

2. How to make sure baby is getting enough milk

If baby is getting enough milk, he will have 4-6 (or more!) wet diapers per day. The color of his urine will also tell you if he’s getting enough liquid. Dark, apple juice colored urine (after the first 4 days) suggests that baby is not getting enough.

You may notice a residue on the diaper, due to urate crystals from over-concentrated urine (which is normal in the first few days only). Between week one and week four, babies who are getting enough hind-milk will produce at least 2-3 yellow, seedy stools a day. Remember, baby’s are super sleepy their first week or two, so don’t be afraid to wake them up to feed them…they need their milk!

3. How to minimize nipple tenderness

Research suggests the primary cause of nipple soreness is nipple trauma due to improper positioning of the baby on the breast. Make sure his lips are not turned under and your baby is not chewing on your nipple or tongue sucking. Make sure his mouth is wide open and surrounding your aereola.

Try different positions until you find a comfortable, efficient one. Don’t pull your baby off; insert a finger between your baby’s jaws to break the suction first.

4. How to manage engorgement

Engorgement is caused by increased blood supply and milk in the breast. Fullness is different than engorgement and usually decreases within the first two or three weeks if the baby is nursing regularly. If the milk is not being removed, the breasts may become tender and engorged. To treat this:

  1. Try a warm shower, or apply a hot washcloth prior to nursing.
  2. Massage your breasts to promote milk flow.
  3. Apply cold compresses to both breasts. The cold will feel good and decrease the swelling.
  4. Use hand expression of milk to soften the areola just before a feeding.
  5. Feed your baby on demand, approximately every one to three hours for at least 15 minutes. Try not to miss any feedings!

A great resource, especially for first time breastfeeding mothers, is a Baby Feeding Class or Breastfeeding Clinic. (Written by Theresa)

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