5 things to keep in mind!
This is the first one in a series of articles in commemoration of International breastfeeding week between Aug 1st to Aug 8th.
Whether you had a natural birth or a cesarean, a full or preterm delivery, an easy or difficult labor, one cannot deny that the experience of giving birth is indeed life changing! It is physically and emotionally taxing for every new mother. And before you recover from this, the responsibility of breastfeeding your newborn lands on your tired shoulders.
Even though breastfeeding is supposed to be natural, it is not necessarily easy and definitely not convenient. Most women struggle to get the hang of it. Some suffer silently and many turn to formula milk as the next option.
The ultimate decision to exclusively breastfeed or not is every new mother’s personal choice. But breast milk certainly has numerous benefits to both the mother and baby. So here are 5 things that can help you if you do choose to exclusively breastfeed.
1. Be prepared beforehand
Be prepared with 2 things – information and supplies even before you deliver.
Read about the benefits and challenges of breastfeeding during your third trimester. Get your partner to also learn about the challenges you might face. Meet a qualified lactation consultant if possible. Watch videos online explaining the correct latch and positioning. You could also talk to someone you know who may have had a baby recently. If they are okay with it, visit them and observe them feeding their baby. This may sound weird but it goes a long way in understanding the right positioning and latch. Get your supplies sorted and packed into your hospital bag.
Check the links at the end of the article for reliable information on breastfeeding.
Click HERE for a playlist of breastfeeding training videos
2. Get the positioning and latch right
The first few times you feed, you will most likely struggle to get the baby to latch on correctly. But that is absolutely okay. You have just given birth and probably still in pain. Be easy on yourself.
Identify a close family member or friend who can help you and be your pillar of positive strength. It could be your partner, mom, sister, aunt or best friend. Take the help of videos explaining the correct positioning. Sit in front of a mirror or ask them to watch the videos with you and help you get it right.
It may take several attempts and you will probably be exhausted but know that you are not alone and you will eventually get it right.
3. Be positive
Day 2 – day 10 after birth are the most difficult for every new mother. The hormones, lack of sleep and physical pain can take a toll on you.
If you are stressed or anxious, it could affect your milk supply. So make sure you keep yourself as comfortable as possible. Take all the help you can get. Ask your spouse and other family members to help with chores. Take at least a few minutes everyday for yourself away from the baby and other motherly duties.
Stay positive. Remember that you are already doing a great job!
Scroll to end of the article for links to some breast feeding support groups in India. Reach out if you need to. It is reassuring to know that you are not alone in this journey.
4. Oh, am I doing alright?
It is natural to wonder if you are doing it right? Is the baby getting enough milk? Does the baby require more?
The repeated suggestions to supplement with formula milk given by family and friends, however well meaning , just confuses you further.
So how do you know if your baby is getting enough milk?
New borns may feed around 8-12 times a day. Feed on both breasts every time for 15-20 min on each. The more you feed the better you will get at it.
The first few days you may have only a few drops of thick yellowish milk. This is called colostrum. It is rich in proteins and immunoglobulins required for your baby.
It takes a few days for your milk production to increase. Be patient. As the baby suckles more, it stimulates more milk.
5 Good Breast care
Have a warm shower everyday. Wash the nipples with warm water. Avoid soap on the nipples
It is a common misconception to avoid wearing bras but this could cause more pain and sagging. Use soft cotton, loose fitting bras instead
Apply some breast milk on the nipples after every feed. This helps to avoid dryness and cracks
Remember to unlatch the baby's mouth from the breast by inserting your finger every time. Do not pull.
In case of soreness, apply a lanolin containing nipple cream or coconut oil. These are safe for baby and do not need to be wiped off before next feed.
In case of swelling, pain, redness or fever, it could indicate a breast infection. Consult your doctor immediately.
Hope this article gives you the confidence needed to start your breastfeeding journey. Stay tuned for more breastfeeding help.
Resources and further reading:
Reliable breast feeding information:
NHS guide to breastfeeding - https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/breastfeeding/
Breastfeeding support groups:
The Bangalore Birthing Network - https://www.facebook.com/groups/bangalorebirthnetworksupport/
Breastfeeding support for Indian moms(BSIM) https://www.facebook.com/groups/breastfeedingsupportforindianmoms http://www.bsim.org.in/
La Leche league India - https://www.facebook.com/groups/lllpanindia/