When bubba comes out make sure you have “Skin to skin” contact immediately after birth. The attending nurse or doctor usually does this now, but just to be sure make sure you tell them its what you want before things get to hectic.
Skin to Skin immediate contact creates a bond, a link, between you and bubba. Not just an emotional one either. Baby comes out completely sterile, by placing them on your chest you colonise them with the microflora (good bacteria) on your skin. This becomes an integral part of their immune system. This is also the first step to successful breastfeeding as breastfeeding should begin within an hour of birth.
Before we get to the ten tips of successfully breastfeeding, you may wonder why you should?
Breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants. It gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy development.
It is safe, clean and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses – such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide.
Breast milk is readily available and affordable, which helps to ensure that infants get adequate sustenance. You also produce the amount that bubba needs, so dont think that they need supplementation (unless a doctor instructs you, and even then feel free to question them).
Breastfeeding also benefits mothers.
It reduces risks of breast and ovarian cancer later in life.
Breastfeeding helps mommy return to her pre-pregnancy weight faster, and lowers rates of obesity. This is because you are now literally eating for two; unlike during pregnancy when you only need a small amount of extra calories; now you are producing densely nutritious milk 24 hours a day. Combine with light exercise (like taking baby for a walk), most woman can drop back to your pre-pregnancy weight without a ‘movie star’ diet and exercise regime.
Beyond the immediate benefits
Breastfeeding contributes to a lifetime of good health. Adults who were breastfed as babies often have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, as well as lower rates of overweight, obesity and type-2 diabetes. There is evidence that people who were breastfed perform better in intelligence tests.
Infant formula does not contain the antibodies found in breast milk. When infant formula is not properly prepared, there are some risks arising from the use of unsafe water and unsterilized equipment or the potential presence of bacteria in powdered formula.
Now for those ten steps and tips.
This is KEY. If baby is not latched on properly not only will they not get as much milk, but you will end up with really sore and perhaps damaged nipples. There’s a TON of great resources online that will literally show you what the right latch looks like but in a nutshell it’s about getting the lower part of the breast and areola into baby’s mouth so that the nipple hits their high palette which stimulates sucking. It is said that baby’s mouth should look like the Kellogg’s special K symbol. Basically their mouth should be as wide open as it gets.
Click on the “animated latch” on the home page to see a great example of a good latch. There’s other great information on this site as well.
Another great visual resources that shows a great latch.
There are many different positions you can use. I loved the lying down (in bed) facing each other one the most. When bubba was newborn she was getting milk frequently through the night. Daddy would get up, change her, swaddle her, bring her to me and I would feed her. Then he would settle her and put her back to bed. By staying lying down it felt like my sleep was a little less disrupted.
I also had to trick her because she developed a favourite and wouldn’t drink from one boob. So I would start with her favourite, then holding her the same way just pull her back to the other boob and let her latch on thinking it was the same one.
With a fast milk letdown, you can also use the position where you lie on your back with bubba on top of you. This way babies head is upright and the milk has to work against gravity, helping slow the flow.
Using different positions also helps with sore nipples.
3. Get help early
Babies and your habits develop very fast, so its vital to get any issues sorted out soon. But dont despair, as help can be gotten at any point.
You can hire a lactation consultant, go to classes, seek help from your health nurse or use the breastfeeding association resources.
4. Use props
It is very important for you back health to support babies weight correctly. Prop baby up using special breastfeeding pillows, or just your regular pillows and couch arms. Whatever you choose to use, make sure you are sitting straight and comfortably before you start, that baby is well supported and secure and that you are both ready. As you will be feeing so often a day, and it may take up to half a hour each feed at the beginning (bubba gets much more efficient as they get bigger), you want to make sure you are supporting your spine.
Its normal to have trouble. To feel like things are going wrong or be paranoid you don’t have enough milk. It does hurt and you will get grazed and blistered nipples. You will most likely get mastitis at least once and baby wont necessarily just know what to do from the first suck. This is normal.
Dont forget baby knows nothing, but they learn fast. Your body is not used to having milk sucked out of it, but it becomes so easy relatively quickly. But like any new experience those first few months seem intensified and each day brings a new challenge. Keep motivated and know you are doing the best you can for your bubba.
6. Be sure to burp ‘em
Some babies really don’t need to be burped, but most do. Regardless its important to try after each feed and you will get a feel for what your baby needs and how easy it is to burp them. Burping releases air that they have swallowed while drinking. As they are so small this small amount of air can cause them great pain or make them throw all that precious milk right back up.
7. Support staff
Having someone to help, to see if baby is latched on right and to be moral support as well is really important.
8. Use a breast pump if needed
This may just be to alleviate your fear that baby is not getting enough milk by showing you how much is actually coming out. However, keep in mind that the pump will get significantly less milk out that baby will. Some mothers get almost the same, but others can get less than half when pumping compared to how much baby can suck out. It also depends on the quality of the pump.
It does also give you some freedom. Having a few bottles in the freezer means you can go out for a night or be delayed at the shops without fear baby is going to starve.
9. Keep it pure
For the first month, try to just breastfeed without introducing a bottle or pacifier. This will help to establish a strong breast bond so that the baby doesn’t experience nipple confusion and start preferring artificial nipples.
After the first month its fine to start introducing bottles and dummies, just keep an eye on your child and if you think they are developing nipple confusion you can always stop.
Keep calm and carry on. The old English saying really applies here. If you are relaxed baby will pick up on this. Also being relaxed helps the milk flow, if you are tensed up and stressing out it wont flow as easily. Look at baby and think about how much you love them (this also helps when pumping milk, just thinking about baby can make your milk start squirting out!).
Last of all enjoy, this is a precious time and a very intimate act. Breastfeeding with all its normal problems and pains is still a wonderful thing. It bonds you to your baby and nourishes your relationship as well as their body.