You might want to read this if you are breastfeeding your newborn
Breastfeeding is not only the best way to provide your infant with all the essential nutrients during the first 6 months of his life, but it is also a great bonding experience. Your breast milk is enough to boost the growth and overall development of your child, and its quality and quantity will change based on your little one’s demands. Yes, its truly miraculous! However, if this is your first pregnancy, you might have concerns and questions around breastfeeding. So, in this article, we ‘ll discuss why breastfeeding is so important and how you can overcome some common challenges and master the art of nursing your newborn.
Advantages of breastfeeding
According to doctors, mother’s milk should be the only food for babies during the first six months. Here’s why:
- It has all the essential nutrients to support growth and development
Breast milk is the perfect combination of all the nutrients your baby needs in the first few months. In fact, the milk actually changes composition as the baby’s needs changes, as he or she gets older.
- It has important antibodies
Breast milk has high amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA) and other important antibodies that build the baby’s immunity in those initial crucial months.
- It promotes healthy weight gain
Breast milk is the perfect way to make sure your baby is gaining the right weight.
- Protection against diseases for the mother
Breastfeeding isn‘t just great for the baby, but it also protects the mother by reducing the risk of diseases like breast and ovarian cancer, and heart disease.
How to breastfeed a newborn
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of everything you need to keep in mind when you start breastfeeding:
- Understand your baby’s hunger
The idea is to feed the baby before he or she starts crying. So, when you observe him or her making suckling sounds or taking their hands to their mouth, he or she is probably hungry.
- Bring the baby into a breastfeeding posture
Use the position that’s most comfortable for you and the baby. (Common breastfeeding positions are discussed later in the article). You can also use a breastfeeding pillow to make things easier.
- Encourage the baby to nurse
Try to encourage your baby to start nursing by rubbing her cheek, running your fingers under her toes, pushing your nipple towards her mouth, or rubbing some breast milk on the nipple.
- Make sure your baby establishes a good breastfeeding latch
You want the baby’s lower lip to be well below the nipple so that she is able to get a good latch. This will ensure that the baby gets enough milk and you don ‘t experience discomfort while nursing. Here are some ways to encourage a good latch:
- The baby should open her mouth wide
Use your nipple to tease the baby’s mouth open. When the mouth is open and the tongue is down, bring the baby to the breast. The baby’s cheeks and chin should be pushed towards the breast.
- A bit of your breast should also be in the baby’s mouth
At least half an inch of your breast, apart from the nipple, should be in your baby’s mouth, for a proper latch.
- Keep your posture correct
Make sure your back is straight and that your baby is as close to you as possible.
- Look out for gulps, not suckling sounds
Listen for gulps to make sure that your baby is really drinking the milk. Simple suckling sounds don‘t necessarily mean that the baby is drinking.
Types of breastfeeding positions
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this. You need to keep experimenting with different breastfeeding postures to figure out what works for you. Here are some of the most common and effective ones:
- Cradle hold
The baby should be draped across your lap, tummy to tummy. The arm which is on the side of the breast that your baby is suckling on, will need to support his or her head and body.
- Cross cradle hold
This is same as above, except that, the arm opposite to the breast the baby’s suckling on, should support his or her head and body.
- Upright position
The baby sits upright, facing you and straddling your knee. He or she is supported by the arm that‘s on the side of the breast they are suckling on, and the other arm should be used to support the breast.
- Football hold
Here, the mother tucks the baby under her arm to the side of the body and supports the breast with the other hand.
The commonest query of new mothers is - how often to feed the baby. There is no hard and fast rule to this, but during the initial months, you should be feeding your baby on demand. You might end up feeding as often as 12 times a day too.
Another common question about breastfeeding schedule is that, how long you should allow your baby to suckle on each breast. Again, there are no easy answers here. Babies usually suckle on one breast for 10 to 30 minutes. The time also changes as the baby develops. It‘s important to remember that when the baby suckles longer, she gets access to hindmilk, which has a special kind of fat, which helps him or her grow and gain weight. However, prolonged feeding, generally for more than 30 minutes, might indicate an incorrect latch or inadequate milk.
Breastfeeding is a very rewarding, albeit challenging, and sometimes exhausting process. Of course, it’s the best thing you can do for your child during the first few months after birth. But it‘s also important to be patient and not lose heart if things don ‘t always go according to plan.