Breastfeeding is one of the best things that a mother can do for her baby. Breast milk provides all the necessary nutrients that a baby needs for their growth and development. However, especially for new moms, breastfeeding can be overwhelming since there are so many questions about this topic.
Keep on reading to find the best practices for breastfeeding mothers and the answers to the most common questions about lactation and breastfeeding.
Tips for breastfeeding success
Start breastfeeding as soon as possible after your baby is born.
Starting breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery is ideal. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, among infants born in 2019, most (83.2%) started out receiving some breast milk, and 78.6% were receiving any breast milk at 1 month.
This helps to establish milk production and helps your baby get colostrum, which is a nutrient-rich first milk that helps boost their immunity. Also, right after birth, keeping your newborn with you will encourage a sense of connection and a potent hormonal reaction that is associated with successful nursing.
Breastfeed on demand
Between seven and twelve feedings per day will occur while you are starting to breastfeed. Breastfeed your baby whenever they show signs of hunger, such as rooting or sucking on their hands. This helps establish a good milk supply and helps your baby get the nutrients they need.
Practice proper latch and positioning
A good latch is important for effective breastfeeding. Make sure your baby’s mouth is wide open and their lips are flanged out. Also, make sure your baby’s head and body are aligned for proper positioning.
Feed from both breasts and avoid pacifiers and bottles
Offer both breasts at each feeding to ensure that your baby gets enough milk and to help maintain a good milk supply. Pacifiers and bottles can interfere with breastfeeding and cause nipple confusion. It’s best to avoid them for at least the first few weeks of breastfeeding.
Take care of your nipples, stay hydrated, and eat a healthy diet
Breastfeeding can cause sore or cracked nipples. Apply lanolin cream or breast milk to soothe and protect your nipples. Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. This will help to ensure that you have enough energy and nutrients to produce milk.
Breast milk provides all the necessary nutrients that a baby needs for the first six months of life. After six months, you can start to introduce solid foods to your baby’s diet. Here are some tips for feeding your baby:
Start with pureed fruits and vegetables
Start with pureed fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potato, avocado, or banana. Introduce one new food at a time and wait a few days before introducing another new food.
Offer iron-rich foods
Iron is an essential nutrient for babies. Offer iron-rich foods, such as fortified cereals, or beans.
Offer finger foods
As your baby ages, offer finger foods, such as small pieces of soft fruit or cooked vegetables. This helps to develop their fine motor skills and encourages self-feeding.
Avoid choking hazards
Avoid foods that are choking hazards, such as whole grapes, popcorn, or nuts.
Mother’s Nutrition During Lactation
During lactation, it’s important for mothers to eat a healthy, balanced diet to ensure that they have enough energy and nutrients to produce milk.
Here are some tips for a healthy diet during lactation:
- Drink plenty of water: Drink at least eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated.
- Eat a balanced diet: Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol: Limit caffeine to no more than two cups of coffee per day and avoid alcohol.
- Take a prenatal vitamin: Continue taking a prenatal vitamin to ensure that you are getting enough nutrients.
- Consider eating foods with galactagogues and natural breastfeeding supplements such as nuts products, almond butter, or milk.
The Nursing Mom’s FAQ: Answering All Your Questions About Breastfeeding
How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
You can tell if your baby is getting enough milk by monitoring their weight gain, diaper output, and feeding patterns. Your baby should have regular weight gain and wet diapers. After the first few days, your baby should have at least six wet diapers and 3-4 bowel movements a day. Your baby should also be fed regularly, at least 8-12 times a day.
How long should I breastfeed my baby?
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and continuing to breastfeed for at least the first two years of life. After six months, you can introduce solid foods to your baby’s diet while continuing to breastfeed.
Can I breastfeed if I have inverted nipples?
Yes, it is possible to breastfeed with inverted nipples. However, it may be more difficult for your baby to latch on properly. You can try using a breast pump or nipple shield to help your baby latch on.
Can I breastfeed if I have mastitis?
Yes, you can still breastfeed if you have mastitis, but it’s important to continue to breastfeed frequently to help clear the infection. You may also need to take antibiotics to help clear the infection.
Can I breastfeed if I have a cold or the flu?
Yes, you can still breastfeed if you have a cold or the flu. Breast milk contains antibodies that can help protect your baby from getting sick. However, it’s important to take precautions to avoid spreading the illness to your baby, such as washing your hands frequently and wearing a mask while breastfeeding.
We know how important this stage of your life is for you and your family. A lot of questions arise around breastfeeding and being nervous and scared, which is completely normal. Remember, however, that this is a short period that will not come back for you and your baby! Try to enjoy it as much as you can and cherish those moments with your baby, as they will be crucial for your bond. Lastly, never be afraid of seeking help; have the number of someone you can call for help in case you need it.