How to Breastfeed: Nursing 101

Since the beginning of time, women have breastfed their babies. However, this doesn’t mean that breastfeeding is something that happens automatically. Your newborn may have never been breastfed and you have never given breast milk to her before. Before you rush to the hospital, or become frustrated breastfeeding postpartum, get familiar with this new job.

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Get Started With Breastfeeding

It is a good idea for a newborn to be breastfed in a hospital, with a lactation consultant or nurse. Although a newborn instinctively knows how to suck, it may be difficult to get his lips and nipple in the correct position (called “the latch”). Baby may cry or lose his grip on the big, delicate object.

Do not be discouraged. The nurses and lactation consultants are available to help you position your baby correctly. Even if it takes you several hours or a whole day to get it right, don’t despair! Your baby will not starve. This phase is not difficult for him because he was born with more energy.

Nursing Baby: How to Hold It

There are many ways to nurse your baby. However, the best is the most comfortable for you both. These are the three easiest ways to cradle your baby.

The Cradle Hold: Place baby in a long, straight line across your abdomen. One hand will support his head while the other will support his bottom.

The Football Hold: Lay your baby face down and lengthwise beside you. Place him on your arm, and gently guide his head towards your breast. This hold may be more comfortable if you have had a C section.

The Lying Down: Lay your baby beside you in bed. You should be on your right side and he on the left. Your nipples should be slightly higher than his mouth, but not at the same height. Your free hand should be used to adjust the baby’s mouth towards the nipple closest the bed. Then, circle your other arm around the baby.

You can prop your baby in a comfortable place by using breastfeeding pillows or carefully folded blankets and towels.

How to get your baby to latch

A good lactation consultant will tell ya that latching is everything. Here are some tips:

Place the baby so that she faces you. Her belly should touch yours. Then, support the baby by using a pillow if needed. Finally, hold the baby up to your breasts.

  • Your thumb and fingers should be around your areola.
  • To open her mouth, tilt your baby’s head slightly.
  • You can help her “scoop the breast” by placing her lower jaw first, just below her nipple.

Place your head forward and place your upper jaw on the breast. You should ensure that she gets the whole nipple as well as at least 1 1/2 inches of the areola into her mouth.

How to Breastfeed your Newborn

To suck, place baby on your breast every two hours or whenever he cries. Rub your finger or nipple on his cheek to help him find the place where lunch is coming.

Even if your baby isn’t getting enough milk at first, stimulation from his sucking will increase the supply. Each nursing session can be as short as 5 minutes, or as long as 45 depending on how often baby eats. After baby learns that you are his source of milk, and has coordinated his latch, sucking, and swallowing, he will likely nurse for between 20 and 40 minutes each breast. If baby has been nursing on one breast for a while, it is fine to remove his latch and switch him over to the other.

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Everything You Need to Know About Breast Milk

The baby’s first meal is not milk. It’s colostrum. This yellowish liquid is rich in antibodies and boosts the immune system. After you give birth, your real milk will arrive in a few days. You will know when your real milk is there, but don’t panic! Engorgement is when your breasts feel full and bursting. You can help your baby by nursing often. Take your prenatal vitamins, drink a lot of water, and eat well.

New moms should be concerned about whether their baby is eating enough. After all, it’s impossible to count how many ounces. You can tell if your baby is drinking if you can hear him swallowing. If your baby is putting on a lot of diapers, including ones with urine, and he has soft, yellow stool, it’s likely that he’s receiving nourishment. If your baby displays any of these symptoms, it’s best to call your pediatrician immediately.

  • After 10 minutes, your baby will stop feeding.
  • You baby may be fussy or lethargic often.
  • Your baby’s skin is turning yellow.
  • The stools of your baby are dark and hard.
  • How to Avoid Engorgement

Sometimes, even if you breastfeed often, your breasts can still become engorged. It can be difficult for babies to latch onto a hard breast. Here are some ways to get milk flowing and relieve that pain.

Keep cool. One way to ease the pain is to apply ice packs or bags full of frozen peas on your breasts. Another proven remedy is cabbage leaves! Cabbage leaves are another tried-and-true remedy. A large head of green cabbage should be kept in the freezer or refrigerator. You can easily remove a leaf from your bra if you feel sore. Instant breast-shaped ice packs

Warm up in the shower. The heat promotes milk flow. Although you may lose some milk, if you are nursing frequently, you will have more milk.

Express yourself. You can soften the situation by giving baby a little milk, either manually or using a pump.

Lie down. Lying down on your stomach can reduce the pull of gravity, and for some women it can also relieve the pain.

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Nursing Shopping List

These supplies will make it easier to nurse, and increase your chances of staying in the hospital longer.

Several supportive nursing bras. Styles without an underwire are preferred. The wire can get into your milk duct and cause problems with milk production.

Lanolin ointment is designed for nursing mothers. It soothes sore nipples.

A nursing pillow. These pillows are inexpensive and can be used to save your back. They also make it easier for you to position baby.

Nursing pads. These absorbent pads can be placed in your bra to catch any leaks.

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A breast pump. There are many types, including electric and handheld. They all help to relieve engorgement.

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