What we feed our babies in their first years of life has a major effect on how healthy baby will be in the future. Breastmilk will give your little one all of the necessary nutrients they will need to grow and sets the stage for a healthier life ahead. Here we’ll talk about some important tips you should know to ensure a successful breastfeeding experience.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and should continue to breastfeed for up to one year or more. The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends exclusive breastfeeding for up to 6 months, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.
Breastmilk helps to protect your baby from infections, some diseases, as well as, helps reduce moms chances of getting some illnesses later in life too. Our breastmilk is perfectly tailored for our growing baby’s needs. Breastfeeding isn’t “all or nothing”; everyday, every drop, counts. The longer you breastfeed your little one, the more benefits you and your baby will receive.
DO YOUR RESEARCH AND KNOW IMPORTANT RESOURCES – It is always a good idea to do research on anything important that you plan to do, but especially when you are having a baby and are new to motherhood. I would also suggest taking a prenatal breastfeeding class, as the class will cover a lot of the information that you will need to know (Top 5 Reasons to take a Prental Breastfeeding Class). Also, knowing important go-to resources like Kellymom.com and the Infant Risk Center are just as essential. There are always questions that you will have and need answers to quickly, and these are just a few of the resources you can check out.
MINIMIZE BIRTH INTERVENTIONS – Every birth intervention can have potential complications to successful breastfeeding outcomes. One intervention usually leads to another which can include, inductions, pain & labor medications, and epidurals. Find your voice and try to minimize or modify maternal medications and also try to avoid procedures that may interfere with successful breastfeeding. Interestingly, women who have doulas with them during labor and birth are less likely to need medications and other interventions. While baby is skin-to-skin directly after delivery, you can choose to postpone weights/measurements, antibiotic eye ointment, Vitamin K injection, and bathing until after the first breastfeeding. Be sure and voice your concerns and don’t be afraid to speak up for your rights.
SKIN-TO-SKIN/ROOMING IN – Skin-to-skin immediately after the birth of your baby is ideally what you want to happen. The nurses do a quick wipe down of the baby, as well as, a quick Apgar assessment to make sure baby is healthy and able to be placed on you skin-to-skin. Your baby should be left on your chest uninterrupted until the first breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin is very important and has many benefits. Per Dr. Jack Newman, “Skin-to-skin contact for at least an hour after birth and as much as possible for the next couple of weeks has the following benefits:”
* more likely to latch on
* more likely to latch on well
* maintains their body temperature better
* maintains his heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood sugar better
* has higher blood sugar (reducing the risk of hypoglycemia)
* is less likely to cry
* more likely to breastfeed exclusively and breastfeed longer
* will indicate to mother when they are ready to breastfeed
Skin-to-skin or also known as Kangaroo Mother Care is also very important for premature babies as well. Rooming in with your baby is important and allows you to be more in tune to your baby’s feeding cues, be able to breastfeed on demand, and you actually get better sleep when you are by your baby.
BREASTFEED WITHIN THE FIRST HOUR OF BIRTH – Being able to breastfeed in the first hour after baby is born is important in establishing a good milk supply and this is also a good time because baby is in a state of quiet alertness and ready to learn. If mother had an unmedicated birth and the baby is placed skin-to-skin undisturbed, they will instinctively ‘crawl’ to the breast (YouTube Breast Crawl). After that first hour, your baby will want to sleep most of the day, but do try to do skin- to-skin a lot during the first 24 hours if they are not nursing as much.
NURSE ON DEMAND – Nursing on demand means feeding the baby whenever they show any feeding cues. Feeding cues can be baby putting their hands by their mouth, smacking or licking their lips, sucking on lips, tongue, hands, or fingers, rooting around on the chest, squirming around alot, and lastly crying. Whenever your baby is making any of these feeding cues you should immediately feed your baby. Your baby should breastfeed at least 8-12 times in a 24 hour period, and watch your baby, not the clock.
AVOID PACIFIERS, BOTTLES, & PUMPING FOR FIRST 4 WEEKS – The first 4 weeks postpartum with your baby is essential to establishing your breastmilk supply and setting you up for a successful breastfeeding journey. Try to avoid pacifiers, bottles, and pumping for those first 4 weeks because they could interrupt your breastfeeding success. We want the baby to breastfeed on demand and be skin-to-skin often in order to bring in a good milk supply and have that milk supply be regulated by the baby. Introducing pacifiers, bottles, or pumping too early on could potentially disrupt that natural process.
KNOW WHEN TO GET HELP – Having difficulties with breastfeeding is nothing to be ashamed of; it’s a reality for many breastfeeding mothers. Check out Top 12 Reasons to seek Lactation Support and get help early. Persistent pain, difficulty latching baby, fussy baby after feedings, or the baby is not gaining weight are just a few of the most common reasons to seek lactation support. Watch for warning signs and seek help from your International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or healthcare provider.
HAVE A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM (PARTNER, PARENTS, FRIENDS, BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT GROUPS) – We as moms usually feel that we can do everything by ourselves, but when it comes to breastfeeding a new baby, cleaning the house, making meals, chasing after other children, laundry, dishes, etc, we need to ask for help. Ask your husband, partner, mom or dad, or best friend to come over and help you with your daily household chores, so that you can take care of your new baby. The first couple weeks of breastfeeding are pretty vital in setting up your milk supply for your successful breastfeeding journey. I highly recommend joining some breastfeeding or parenting FaceBook groups and also going to breastfeeding support groups to meet and get advice from families that are going through similar situations.
We all need to keep in mind that breastfeeding isn’t all about food. Infants/baby’s breastfeed for all sorts of reasons and hunger is just one. They might want to breastfeed because they are thirsty, hungry, gassy, tired, in pain, fussy, growth spurts, cluster feeding, too hot or cold, or just because they love you and want to be next to you all the time. Nursing on demand will help you meet all of these needs.
As always, if you find yourself enduring painful feedings, fussy baby after most feedings, not enough stools/voids, baby not waking for feedings, or things just aren’t right, definitely seek support from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or your healthcare provider.
Good luck on your breastfeeding journey!