Bringing a baby into the world is an absolutely awe-inspiring thing. We spend months during pregnancy preparing for the arrival of our little bundle of joy. Some women spend years prior to that trying to get pregnant. So much time and effort is put into the planning and the dreams that sometimes the reality sneaks up on us after the baby is born. Things like how to change a diaper, whether to use a pacifier, whether to breastfeed are all scenarios a mother thinks she has planned out perfectly until her perfect and individual baby is born. Many women feel a great deal of stress when it comes to deciding whether or not to breastfeed but even after the decision to breastfeed is made, the adventure is just beginning.
Breastfeeding, also called nursing, is feeding your child milk that is made by your body directly from your breasts. No other method of feeding is can be so natural and so frustrating at the same time. Many women have the mistaken notion that breastfeeding will be easy and natural once the baby is in their arms because our bodies were made to take care of our infant in every way, before and after birth. The reality is that breastfeeding for most women will take some time and consideration to get it right.
In order to make sure you are ready to breastfeed your infant when he or she is born, get all of the information you can before you give birth. The natural stress of any birth is going to keep you from doing a lot of learning on the job. Preparation is the key. The first thing to remember is that your baby does have natural instincts when it comes to nursing. The baby will suck with no effort on the mother’s part.
The biggest problem that most women have with breastfeeding is getting a good latch. The term latch is used to describe the way in which a baby attaches its mouth to the nipple area of the breast. There are a few key things to keep in mind to have the best chance at getting a good latch. The first thing you want to consider is how you are holding the baby. Keep one free to manipulate your breast and have the other hand underneath your baby’s head. Whether you have the baby lie across your body from side to side or from front to back is personal preference but having your hand under their head will help tremendously with establishing a good latch.
Once you have your baby positioned in your arms and on your lap, cup your right breast with your right hand (or left if you are starting there) and bring your baby’s head to your breast with your opposite hand. Touch your nipple to the baby’s mouth and once the baby has opened his/her mouth in a nice big “O” place as much of your nipple and surrounding area (called the areola) into the baby’s mouth. The more of your areola you can get in the baby’s mouth the better, because the baby will usually have a vigorous suck and if only the nipple is in his/her mouth, you will be in pain and the baby will get less breast milk from the feeding. If you feel that the baby did not get enough in his/her mouth, then start again. You and your baby will be much happier if you get a good latch from the beginning.
When the latch is correct most women feel some tenderness at the beginning, but you should not feel pain. While it is wonderful to get a good latch within the first day or two, do not despair if you do not. Some babies (and mothers) take a bit longer to train but most eventually get the hang of it. Within a short time breastfeeding will become second nature for you both and most babies do not regress once they achieve a proper latch.
Breastfeeding takes a good deal of time and energy so remember to keep your body as healthy as possible by eating regularly and drinking lots of water. Most complaints about decreased breast milk supply is can be traced back to lack of proper hydration.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience for a mother and her child but it is important to remember that not everyone will be successful. Do your best by following the above advice and you will know you did everything right for your new baby.