Being pregnant brings on a new experience for a new mom. Creating a new life inside of you causes a whirlwind of hormones, cravings and body changes. Just when you start to get a handle on being pregnant, someone asks you……..
Are you going to breastfeed or bottle feed?
This question is asked to all moms. Whether its your friends, doctors, spouse and most importantly yourself. It is a big question to really put some thought into. This is a very personal choice that you and your family should decide on your own. Nursing a baby is not for everyone and sometimes it may not work well with your newborn.
I am blessed with raising 4 kids. My first 2 children are singletons and kids number 3 and 4 are twins. Taking care of twins was a whole new mom game for me, especially when it came to nursing. With my single babies I exclusively nursed, and was very lucky at breastfeeding. With my twins I nursed, pumped AND bottle-fed my twins.
I had some breastfeeding hardships with my twins since they were premature. Regardless to say, I have tried it all and don’t judge anyone for choosing bottle or breast. You are the only one who could decide which is best for you and your baby. All circumstances are different for us all.
What I can do for you is share some breastfeeding tips for all new moms. Along with using some important nursing essentials, these tips is what I personally used. Most came from other mom friends of mine and some from research I found.
Let us ask another important question…….
What are some breastfeeding benefits for mom?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.org)
- Breastfeeding moms will recover quicker. They produce a hormone called oxytocin that helps to contract the uterus faster to its original size
- Reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancers
- Reduces the risk of certain systemic diseases, such as
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Diabetes Type II
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Lowers your risk of postpartum depression
- Prevents menstruation. Believing this may help with birth control, but should not be your only form of birth control
What are some breastfeeding benefits for baby?
- Ideal form of nutrition from moms milk
- Breastmilk contains antibodies to fight off viruses and bacteria
- It may reduce the risks of disease and infections
- Reduces the risk of childhood obesity
- Studies have shown it has positive effects on brain development
- It is easier to digest reducing constipation and gas, which could lead to colic
What are some disadvantages of breastfeeding?
- Can be painful
- Mom has less freedom to be away from baby
- Spouse cannot feed their child
- Can be difficult and discouraging for mom when baby has a hard time latching on to the breast
- Mom needs to watch their diet closely
As per above they are far more advantages for breastfeeding than disadvantages. Most of the benefits can happen when your nurse for a set amount of time. The longer you nurse the more beneficial your milk will be to your newborn.
In some cases nursing will be hard for moms who can’t breastfeed their babies for some reason or another. If at all possible, try to nurse shortly after your child is born. This is a huge benefit if you can nurse your child shortly after birth. Mothers produce a hormone called colostrum in their milk that has an increase in antibodies and protein. It is prominent in mothers milk for a short period of time after child birth.
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All moms are not created equal AND all babies are not created equal too. Theses are tips that all moms should try. Keep in mind that we all beat to our own drum. So what works for you, may not work for someone else. when it comes to the tips I am going to share with you, moms really should adhere to these. They are helpful to know, especially for the new and first time nursing mom.
Ask for help
As a new mom you are experiencing a world of new. New baby, body changes (physical and emotional), and a new love! When it comes to preparing for childbirth, you most likely researched everything there is to know about diaper changing and studied infant sleeping habits. When it comes to nursing, there will be resources that you can reach out to for help.
In hospitals there are people who are lactation nurses. These nurses are there to specifically help you with all your nursing needs and questions. This wonderful group of women, in my case, showed me the correct ways of getting my child to latch properly, different handling techniques and making sure my baby and myself were alright in the process.
Asking for guidance with nursing is a must! Knowing the correct way and adapting it to you and your newborn will help establish a positive breastfeeding experience. This is a special bond that only a mother and child can endure. Being overwhelmed and discouraged may happen, but with help you can be successful with their guidance!
In time you will feel comfortable nursing on your own.
“I can do it in my sleep!” Literally and figuratively!!
Make sure to start out the correct way. There will be a lot of trial and error. As mentioned above, we are not created equal. What may work for one mom may not for the other. Establishing, with help, the right techniques will ensure breastfeeding happiness for mom and baby!
Hold off on the pacifier
This question will soon be asked shortly after, are you breastfeeding or bottle feeding?
Are you going to use a pacifier?
If you are going to breastfeed……
I suggest you say no!
But Why ?
There is actually something called nipple confusion. When a baby goes from breast – bottle – pacifier, it can get, well confused.
This confusion of the different textures, ease of sucking, can cause it to be very difficult on the infants. Latching on to the breast may be the most difficult thing there is to nursing. Having a pacifier in between nursing, can cause your newborn to struggle with this important process.
Remember that he or she is learning, as are you. Try to make the process as non-complicated as possible. The more they nurse on your breast, the easier breastfeeding will be.
Start out not using a pacifier for the immediate future. Once breast and pacifier are well distinguished by your newborn, its your decision to use one or not.
Personally, most of my babies did not like them and one child did. This child who used one for a short period, made it easier for family to care for my son when I returned to work. So I am not against using them at all!
Just not right away!!
Be on baby time
During the learning process, nursing will take up most of your day. Infants typically feed every 2 hours. Not too much downtime in between from the start.
Once your baby starts to feed, start with one breast. A breast usually will empty its milk stores anywhere between 15-20 minutes. Some infants will stay longer on the breast for up to 45 minutes.
Why such a difference?
Depending on how well your baby is latched on can influence the time it takes to feed your infant. Baby may be struggling for the first 10 minutes and then go into a comfortable rhythm of sucking.
On the other hand , as was in my case, they may use YOU as their pacifier. Just like the pacifier, your breast will be soothing and comforting. Making it difficult to let go!
This is a good thing!!
The more your newborn sucks on your breast, the better he or she will be at breastfeeding! This is why it is important to let your baby set the pace and time for feeding. Let them nurse when they want to! Initially you will feel like all you do is nurse.
Yes, this will definitely be the case!
It will get better once a routine can be established, it will happen eventually!
The both of you are just establishing a base on how successful you will be to breastfeeding. Then the ease of feeding times will be soon to follow.
Watch for feeding cues
Another important tip, if not the MOST important, is to watch for babies contentment after nursing. Making sure that your child is actually drinking the milk, is extremely crucial. Unlike bottle-fed infants, you cannot see the exact amount of milk given and taken by your baby.
Here are some ways to check for these cues……..
- Is your breast softer or less full than it was initially?
- Did you have feel a pulling sensation with no pain or pinching?
- Is there milk along babies lips and inside mouth?
- Does baby seem content?
- How many wet diapers did he or she make in a day?
- Involve your pediatrician, they will let you know exactly how many your child should produce in a day, typically at least 6
Keep a journal of what time you feed your newborn, along with how long they fed for. Keep it documented on how many wet and soiled diapers they produce in day. keeping track of these things will give you and your doctor a better understanding of their milk intake.
Fluids and diet
When nursing you need to drink plenty of water. Water will help increase your milk supply which is essential to babies growth and development. A good rule of thumb……….
After every feeding, drink a 8 ounce glass of water!
Granted you may need to drink more, but this will keep you mindful to have a glass.
Moms can burn up to 500 calories from breastfeeding alone. Your calorie intake may need to be increased due to the demands of your hungry child. Be conscious of what you eat. Healthy foods, like vegetables and fruits are a great choice. Eating the recommend 3 meals a days with healthy snacks in between will help keep your energy up and milk production going.
The website Kellymom.com is an amazing source for breastfeeding tactics. They also have a wonderful section on diet and foods for breastfeeding moms. It shows you what and what shouldn’t have in your diet while breastfeeding.
Comfort is key! Your lactation nurse will show you different positions to hold your child. It is also essential that the mom is comfortable in the process. If you are so blessed to have a baby shower, ask for a comfortable nursing chair. I have a post on breastfeeding essentials for the new mom. You can read that here.
Look for one with plenty of cushion and pillows. A glider that can soothe the baby to sleep, especially during night time feedings is great. The need of a soft armrest is a definite. While your baby lays on your arms to eat, it can be up to 45 minutes. Talk about putting your arm to sleep.
With my kids, I ended up having severe carpel tunnel. This seems to be common for most new moms. Having a soft armrest can help alleviate some of these symptoms.
Another thing to try is a nursing pillow or poppy pillow. This can help support your nursing baby without your arm underneath their bodies. Freeing up your hands to help guide your breast to their mouth and supporting them around their sides.
Have a good supportive, yet comfortable nursing bra. These bras will help support the extra weight of your breast with the added milk stored in it. It will also give you easier access during your feeding sessions. Some moms would also just recommend wearing a t-shirt alone while they were at home. The bra will give you added support to your chest and to your back.
I highly recommend purchasing several of these!
Taking care of yourself as a new mom, is crucial. Life with a newborn will be hectic and chaotic at times. We tend to neglect ourselves, very often!
You are now the primary feeding source for your growing child. With breastfeeding, comes a lot of changes in your world as a parent. Your breasts are now changed as well.
I work in pediatrics part-time. While I was at work, there was a lot of crying babies. So I will tell you by first hand experience that yes, when a baby cries you will leak milk. It will go through your bra and sometimes through your shirt. Talk about embarrassing!
One simple tried and true tip for the nursing mom, is nursing pads. These pads sit right on top of your nipple beneath your bra. If you should spring a leak, lol! The pad will absorb the milk, preventing it from leaking any further.
There will be cases where you may be away form your child a short period of time, and you may get engorged. When this happens, so does leaks. Pads are a simple thing to add to your bra, so you don’t have any embarrassing moments.
The amount of times you will nurse can also cause your nipples to get sore and dry. Nipple creams can help heal and soothe them. You can place the cream on your breast after feedings, throughout your day.
Some creams state that you may not need to wipe your breast off when feeding, but I was always cautious in doing so. This should be something you keep with you at all times. It really does help with soreness. Especially when your child gets older, they will have a stronger sucking reflex. This can course it to get sore more often.
In summary breastfeeding can be challenging for a new mom and her newborn. With the right resources and help from family it can make a new experience easier to adapt to.
Keep in mind that there will be many challenges, but the reward is spectacular! The bond between an infant and their mother is something truly amazing. The benefits you are providing will create a positive step to a healthier child.
Here are some wonderful resources that may help you in your breastfeeding journey………..
La Leche League International is a site made by nursing moms for nursing moms
International Lactation Consultant Association can find a consultant near your area
If you can’t afford a pump, you can rent one here at medela
I really appreciate you sticking around to the end! Good luck in the start of this wonderful and magical experience we are blessed to have. Please comment below and tell me if you found some other useful tips that you like to share!