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By Ruth Nchekei

23rd July 2021

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What New Moms Should Know About Breastfeeding

There are many health benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not only good for the baby, but also for moms. 

However, it is tougher than expected.

There are moms who make it their mission to exclusively breastfeed their babies, then, upon discovering how challenging it is, decide to back out.

To be mentally prepared for what’s coming, here is what new moms should know about breastfeeding.

Midwife Advice

Any well-trained Midwife will say, an important breastfeeding tip for first time moms is: To breastfeed within the hour of delivery. 

Breastfeeding within the first hour of life is important as babies get colostrum, which helps build their immunity. Colostrum is a thick yellowish fluid a woman’s breast produces right after birth. 

It’s naturally formulated with antibodies and essential nutrients to significantly aid with newborns’ survival. 

Also, newborns breastfed within the first hour of life are calmer and quick to utilize their five senses. 

Newborns’ senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and hear immediately begin to develop when they are close to their moms in their first hours. 

Ask for Help

Outside the delivery room is where new moms get to experience the real challenges of breastfeeding. 

Some breastfeeding challenges arise from never having held a baby before, so a newborn becomes a mom’s first training session. If a mom can’t hold her baby right while breastfeeding, it means problems with latching. 

New moms shouldn’t wait. 

They should instead ask for help from more experienced moms or a lactation consultant. Babies aren’t as fragile as they look, so don’t be afraid to hold yours. Ask someone to teach you how to hold your baby if it’s a first. 

Babies Set the Pace

Look out for your baby’s hunger cues, which include, rooting (moving head from side to side in search of a nipple), tightened fists, sucking hands and lip smacking. 

Usually, babies suckle every 2 to 3 hours and your body will always be ready when they are.

Give your baby the first breast to feed from thoroughly– takes 15 to 20 minutes per boob. Once done, do a burp. Then offer the second breast. 

Sometimes, the baby may get full on the feed from the first breast and latch off. When this happens, offer the second boob first in their next feeding session. 

Use your Breast Pump

Sometimes babies will have 5-hour naps instead of waking up at their usual 2-3 hours to breastfeed. 

When the baby skips a feeding, your breasts will be full and engorged. If not careful, this could lead to mastitis.

It’s advised, manually using your hands to remove milk from your breasts should relieve you of any pain due to engorgement. 

If you have a breast pump, use it for when the baby skips a feed. In fact a breast pump is better than hands.

Basically, each time your breasts feel full and painful, use your hands or a breast pump.

Related: Health benefits of breastfeeding to the baby

Freeze your Breast Milk

If you are lost on what to do with breast milk you pumped, don’t be. 

Breast milk can be stored in a freezer for baby’s consumption, even 6 months from when it was pumped. 

Don’t let your liquid gold go to waste. 

Having milk stored will help your baby have supply for when you aren’t available to breastfeed– say when you go back to work or travel for days. It may also give your partner a chance to bond with the baby over a bottle-feeding session. 

To freeze breast milk, use Lansinoh breast milk storage bags.

Pamper your Nipples

The biggest challenge about breastfeeding is the agonizing pain on the nipples. 

This comes as a result of improper latching. 

For starters, you shouldn’t give just the nipple to the baby. You should give the aureola. Aureola is the black part of the breast. 

This means, the nipple should be far back inside your baby’s mouth.You will know the baby is having a good latch when you hear the suck-swallow-breath rhythm.

The first two months of breastfeeding will leave your nipples feeling sore. Use a nipple cream after every feed. 

Most moms swear by the Lansinoh brand

Eat Well

To have constant milk supply, you need to eat healthy foods packed with essential nutrients.

Foods with protein, vitamins and minerals, like fish, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, fruits and nuts should be in your diet. 

No junk for breakfast then call it a day. Healthy meals trigger the brain to produce more milk. 

There are also lactogenic seeds like fennel and dill to help produce more milk. 

Remember, eating healthy doesn’t mean denying yourself little pleasures like cake or chocolate. 

Don’t forget your fluids, but go slow on alcohol. 

Baby’s Diaper

A well breastfed baby will have at least 6 wet diapers per day. Also, the colour of the poop will be yellow and seedy. Green poop means the baby isn’t content. 

Sleep

Sleep when the baby sleeps in order to produce a good supply of milk for the next feed. 

To get adequate sleep, it’d be best to learn how to breastfeed while lying on the bed, because sleep deprivation can get you cranky. 

Mothers who can breastfeed while sleeping are happier than mothers who don’t.

Haowever, cosleeping with babies on adult beds is dangerous as they may suffocate. If you will be okay waking up every 2 hours to walk to baby’s crib at night to breastfeed, good. But if you will need more sleep at night, get a baby crib that can be attached to your bed.

Baby’s Weight

A major sign that a baby is breastfeeding well is weight gain. Your baby shouldn’t be losing weight, whether breastfed or bottle-fed. 

The pediatrician will be quick to investigate underlying issues if the baby is losing weight.  Either way, don’t be discouraged. 

Breastfeeding takes time. It is the most challenging aspect of any motherhood journey, yet the most rewarding. 

Worry not if you don’t get it the first, tenth or fiftieth time. It will get better at some point, and you will be glad you didn’t quit. 

Finally, hire a lactation consultant or have an older woman around to help with the breastfeeding struggles you may face. 

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