Breastfeeding can be a challenging experience for many new moms. If you are a new mom you can feel anxious about it because it can be confusing or intimidating at first. This article will help you get off to a good start with breastfeeding and give you some understanding of what to expect during those first few weeks with your new baby!
Table of Contents
Prepping For Breastfeeding
As soon as possible after birth, hold your baby skin-to-skin. This will help your milk production, and your baby to recognize the smell of you. If you feel like your baby is too small for breastfeeding, try giving him or her a bottle of expressed breast milk after checking with your doctor.
Most healthcare professionals agree that it’s best to wait until breastfeeding is well established before introducing a bottle or pacifier. If these are used too early, they may interfere with your baby’s ability to latch onto the breast and interfere with breastfeeding success.
What A New Mom Need To Know About Breastfeeding?
Breast milk digests more easily than commercial formula. That’s why breast milk is recommended for newborns. Many moms worry about not producing enough milk, but most breastfeeding moms produce colostrum for the first couple of days. This is a thin, yellowish liquid that your baby can drink directly from your nipples. The rest of your milk should come in within about three weeks of birth.
Breast milk provides your child with a balanced amount of nutrients and calories. It starts out as colostrum, a thinner liquid rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your newborn. About three days after birth, you should start producing mature milk with a yellowish color.
Since breast milk is natural and easy for your baby to digest, it’s best for babies with a family history of allergies and diabetes. Breast milk can help soothe your child if he or she is suffering from colic or gas pains.
Your baby’s own immunity system is boosted by your breast milk. Studies show that consuming breast milk during infancy can reduce the risk of developing allergic reactions by nearly half.
Breastfeeding also helps new moms to lose weight after pregnancy. Research presented in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that women who breastfeed exclusively for six months are more likely to return to their pre-pregnancy weight than those who give formula or use a combination of formula and breast milk.
How Breastfeeding Happens For The First 20 Days Of Life
The first 20 days of life for a breastfeeding baby are crucial to establishing a good nursing pattern and strong milk supply. So let’s discuss what to expect at these important stages.
Day 1 : Recover From The Birth, Take Some Time To Bond With Your Little One
Take a short walk with the baby and do a few relaxation exercises like deep breathing (if possible) or yoga.
In the beginning, newborn babies will be most alert as instinctively try to suckle. The baby will latch onto the breast or nipple and will know from the taste and feel of mother’s breast, that he is being fed.
Experts say it takes up to 15 minutes to nurse a baby every two to three hours. It’s normal for your breasts to feel tender during the first few days. This tenderness will lessen as the milk comes in and gets established.
After a successful feed, your baby is likely to have a small stool movement can be darker green and tarry. The first bowel movement should come by the second day with an increase in movements over time.
Day 2: Expect Your Baby To Be Hungry And To Breastfeed Frequently
Knowing what to expect on day two will help you prepare for the time when your baby is hungry as well as when he or she is sleepy. The day starts with a wide variety of activities and it’s important that you use this time during day 2 to get as much rest as possible. If you don’t have enough sleep because of your baby, he or she could suffer from inadequate nutrition, which could lead to potential health complications.
On the second day, it may be necessary for the lactation consultant to supplement with formula if your child isn’t meeting their nutritional needs through breast milk alone. Pasteurized donor milk is available through many hospitals and through the Human Milk Banking Association of North America and averages between $3 and $5 per ounce. Most hospitals will provide donor milk for your baby.
An infant will typically drink between one ounce and two ounces of milk every four hours, depending on the infant’s weight. The calories included in breast milk are provided to the child by the body’s metabolic processes.
Day 3 : Keep Monitoring Your Baby And Milk Supply
Two to five early day days are crucial when it comes to establishing a healthy breastfeeding relationship. It’s a good idea to make sure that your baby is consuming around 30 to 60 mL of breast milk every two hours during the day and 10 to 20 mL every three hours during the night.
On day three your breasts will appear larger and heavier and may leak over time. It can be as long as six days before you start producing milk even if you have already brought babies through Caesarean section.
Most moms can breastfeed based on their babies’ “hunger signals” until they fall asleep.
If your milk has been depleted during the first two weeks, you will need to nurse the baby every three to four hours or give them a bottle with expressed breast milk.
Day 4: Manage Engorgement And Expect Changes In Baby’s Bowels.
Keep in mind that breastfeeding is going to be a process, not a race. Your baby is likely to produce 6 to 8 wet diapers and 3 to 4 bowel movements in a 24-hour period.
By day four, breastfeeding will probably not be as easy as it was during the first few days, especially if your baby is not latching on.
Your breasts can get very full at any time. The already established milk supply may get even fuller if you don’t remove the milk after a feed. Milk engorgement can be very painful and distressing for mothers. Don’t worry, it’s normal, especially in the beginning days of breastfeeding. If your breast engorgement interferes with milk flow or your milk letdown apply warm packs on your breasts for a few minutes.
Day 5 to Day 10: Start Settling Into A More Predictable Breastfeeding Routine.
By the end of the second week, your baby is likely to rest for longer periods without feeding. You will start seeing a pattern and you will only have to wake your baby up to feed them. Let your baby do the scheduling as opposed to you forcing your schedule on them.
You and your baby should have established a routine. Milk supply will have stabilized and it’ll be easier to recognize your baby’s individual differences in feeding habits.
Day 11 to Day 14: Prepare For A Growth Spurt.
The first growth spurt should happen around day 14 and lasts for a couple of days. Your baby will be eating more and you may notice that they are sleeping less. It’s good to meet the demands of your baby’s growth. Babies breastfeeding will gain approximately 5 or 7 ounces per week.
If your baby is not gaining weight, it should be seen by a pediatrician as soon as possible. Sometimes, the lack of weight gain in the first few weeks of birth can be related to problems with the baby’s immune system which can lead to infections that cause weight loss.
Day 15 to Day 20: Expect A Second Growth Spurt Followed By Sleeping Through The Night.
By the third week, the growth spurt is over and babies are likely to sleep for longer periods at night. It’s not uncommon for your baby to wake up once to be fed during the night. It’s also likely that you will see a decrease in your milk supply.
At this point in time, your baby should be gaining weight at a steady pace. If your baby is gaining weight at a normal speed but not meeting their developmental milestones, it’s essential that you take them to the doctor for an evaluation.
The increasing infant weight is caused by a combination of your baby’s growing muscle and bone mass, as well as the products of digestion and metabolism. Breast milk provides all the necessary nutrition for the baby.
After Day 20: Breastfeeding Becomes A Way Of Life!
By day 20, breastfeeding is no longer a process. It’s a way of life. With sufficient sleep and a solid milk supply, the transition to solids should be straightforward. At this point, your baby should be able to breastfeed until they’re ready to switch.
Breastfeeding Tips That All New Moms Should Be Aware Of
The following are a few breastfeeding tips that every new breastfeeding mother should know.
- Tend Tender Nipples
It’s normal to experience tender nipples in the first few weeks of motherhood. They may feel sore, cracked, and painful. This is usually caused by breastfeeding on the wrong side before switching to the right side. You also need to make sure your nipples are dry before feeding begins.
To protect your tender nipples, you can wear nursing pads during the day and at night to absorb leakage. You can also use a warm compress before feeding to avoid soreness.
If the pain and soreness is interfering with your breastfeeding experience, you should make an appointment to see a lactation consultant or your doctor.
- Know That Newborns Nurse A Lot
It’s a well-known fact that newborns eat a lot. They have to consume at least one full breast milk ounce per hour to maintain their energy level and growth. Your baby will likely fall asleep after each feeding, but there will be times when they wake up after 30 minutes to one hour of sleep. They may want to feed again.
This is normal and it’s actually a good thing. It’s a sign that your baby is healthy, and they’re growing well.
- Try Not To Worry Too Much About Supply
While it’s normal to have a small amount of breast milk leakage in the beginning days, you shouldn’t worry about your milk supply.
You should discuss it with your doctor and make sure you continue to develop an adequate milk supply. If not, consider consulting a lactation consultant.
It’s a good idea to have someone else in the family take over the task of feeding the baby so you can get some rest.
If you want a healthy and strong milk supply, it’s essential that you get enough rest. Try to be as quiet and undisturbed as possible.
- It Takes Practice To Get The Latch.
One of the most difficult things about breastfeeding is learning how to get a good latch.
Even if you’ve been breastfeeding for sometime, it can take some time to learn a latch that’s comfortable for both you and your baby. If your baby’s latch is painful, you can try to find a more comfortable position.
- Go Slow When Feeding
When first learning to breastfeed, it’s essential that you go slow. Your body needs time to adjust and your baby’s latch needs time to become more natural. Choose the place where breastfeeding is the most comfortable.
If you feel like your baby is latched on well, continue to encourage them to take more of the breast.
How Can I Get Better At Breastfeeding?
While it’s natural to feel frustrated with breastfeeding challenges, it’s important that you remain positive and supportive of your breastfeeding goals. It may take time for your baby to get the hang of it, but they need time to adjust as well. Follow these tips below to make nursing easier.
- Support Your Breasts.
Your breasts are going to be weightier when you feed. Make use of Hamburger Hold which is the idea of holding breasts with your hand. Your hand should rest between your breastbone and your thumb should be above your nipple and behind your newborn’s nose with the nipple close to your baby’s mouth. Holding your baby like this makes it easier to feed your baby. It’s also a good position for baby’s head which is not steady yet.
- Support Your Baby.
Your baby should be the same height of your breast and nipple where baby’s mouth is directly opposite to it. If your arms get tired, try placing the baby on some pillow or blanket. Your baby will get the best latches and it will be easy to nurse if you are comfy. Use a folded blanket or pillow to support the baby. Breastfeeding can get very frustrating, but the rewards are priceless.
The best and most important thing that you can do is keep a positive attitude.
It’s not going to be easy, but it will all be worth it in the end.
- Don’t Be Alarmed, Leaking Is Natural.
After the first few weeks , it may happen that your milk clots as it starts leaking. It’s normal to leak and it’s a good sign of a good flow. It’ll happen when you sleep, eat or laugh but you should not worry about it too much. It is important to remember that breastfeeding is a team effort between mother and baby.
- Wear A Comfortable Nursing Bra.
One of the most important things to wear when breastfeeding is a comfortable nursing bra. The best nursing bra that you can wear is a wireless one. It will enhance support, comfort and convenience for breastfeeding moms.
- Stay Hydrated.
Before taking the baby or pump a glass of cold water is best to drink. Staying hydrated help maintain a healthy breast milk supply for nursing.
When your body is dehydrated, your breast milk will be less plentiful. It’s also important that you feel comfortable and not constricted by the clothes you wear.
The other essential thing that you need is a comfortable breastfeeding chair.
One of the best is the Graco Semi-Upholstered Glider and Nursing Chair With Ottoman.
What Is Lay-Back Breastfeeding?
Some lactation consultant are exploring different techniques called laid-back breastfeeding that has been found to make nursing easier. To try this, start your nursing session by leaning back or reclining and placing your baby face down on your chest first. Use your hands to guide the baby’s mouth. Most baby in this position is bound to curl and self anchor with a deep latch.
What Should I Avoid While Breastfeeding?
You need to take extra care while breastfeeding since you have a newborn baby. You need to practice safety measures and follow some breastfeeding tips so that you can stay safe.
- Avoid Engorgement
Engorgement is a painful swelling and hardening in your breasts occurring when you produce more milk than your baby’s needs. The swelling intensifies if you don’t feed frequently. It can be accompanied by breast pain and a reddening of the skin of your breasts that looks similar to a bruise.
You can use hand expression for a bit and warm compress prior to breastfeeding during engorgement. You may like to express milk in the hot shower or bath. Try to pump out until breasts have softened and you feel confident again.
You can also try to compress the breasts using a towel and warm compress until you feel the discomfort subside. You can continue expressing very gently, slowly when willing to do so. If you find you feel the breasts under the compression have decreased and have milk flowing freely, you can stop compressing and continue to express or pump.
- Hold Off On A Pacifier
Too soon for a pacifier could interfere with breastfeeding. It’s reported that if a newborn is introduced to a pacifier before breastfeeding, feeding can become harder and sometimes too painful. Sometimes the baby won’t be able to accept the breast when the pacifier is introduced too early.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least three to four weeks after baby is born. Your baby may not even need the pacifier after breastfeeding well.
- Avoid Teats Dummies And Complementary Feeds
The risk of infection from using them is too great. The recommendation is to wait until breastfeeding is going well and the baby reaches four weeks and beyond.
Some mothers may feel that complementary feeds are a better option when breastfeeding is not going well. However, creating an uneven milk supply will not benefit either you or your baby. Remember that it’s possible to keep breastfeeding even if you find it’s hard to produce enough milk at first.
How Often Should I Feed My Baby?
The child will probably be hungry around 12 times per day or more. This can decrease or increase during growth periods. Baby needs to be fed when they are hungry and if your baby is crying, pay attention, it’s a good chance that they are hungry.
It is important to know how much milk your baby needs. Babies can’t tell you for themselves just how much they need. It’s up to you and your baby’s size and temperament.
Generally, babies need about 30 to 35 ounces a day from the start. It will be very slow at first, and your baby should not be hungry every two hours.
What Should I Do If My Nipples Get Sore?
The cause of painful nipples is if your child doesn’t grab on correctly. It can be caused by too much friction on the nipple. This can be avoided by expressing your milk and wiping off the sore areas with a wet cloth before feeding.
Some signs are that your child will not latch on well, you’ll have a painful, cracked nipple and it could lead to a poor supply of milk. You can try out various positions to see if sudden soreness leads to pain after feeding.
How Do I Know If My Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk?
If your baby is gaining weight, it means that they are getting enough milk. The average baby will gain about 8 ounces in the first week, then lose some weight in the second week and gain a pound or two a month from then on.
Your baby should have an alert look on their face and be able to open their eyes when they are hungry. If your baby is not gaining weight it’s a good idea to check the weight at each hospital visit, just in case you’re producing more milk than your child needs.
What Foods Should I Eat While Breastfeeding?
A balanced diet includes plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein foods so that you can breastfeed successfully. When breastfeeding, you must include at least eight to twelve servings of vegetables every day.Try eating more foods from each group in the list: Dark Green Vegetables, Whole grains, lean meat, Nuts All of these foods are a great source of energy and vitamins that your body and breast milk need to stay healthy.
You may also like to read about :