Breastfeeding is natural for all mothers and most mothers always believe they will have an easy time with it.
However, it is not always as easy as it’s made to seem and most mothers struggle to get it right the first few hours or weeks after they deliver.
These struggles vary and range from insufficient milk production, getting a good latch, baby refusing to nurse, baby sleeping while nursing, cracked and bleeding nipples, breasts engorgement, baby preferring one breast to the other, or baby nursing for a very short period at each feeding.
Whatever the problem, it can be solved to put you on the road to having an enjoyable and memorable breastfeeding experience.
The first six weeks of breastfeeding is crucial as this is when your milk supply gets established. There are certain tips you can carry out to ensure you are successful in your breastfeeding.
15 Useful Tips for Success in Breastfeeding
1 - Get Prepared Ahead of Time
Carry out little acts that ensure your breastfeeding experience will be an easy one before your baby arrives. If you are a new mom you might want to look into consulting a lactation expert to put you through on what to do and what to avoid before time.
You could also get breastfeeding videos or books and spend a considerable length of time watching, reading, and studying these breastfeeding materials.
Continuous studying will leave these tips ingrained in your mind so they become habits when you are finally ready to start breastfeeding.
You might also want to stock up on a few lactation-boosting foods and herbs to improve your breast milk supply, especially after you stop producing colostrum and discover your regular milk is a little low.
You may never get to use these foods as you could start off with a healthy supply of milk. However, you might also want to look into using it to boost the quality of milk you produce.
2 - Consult with Friends or Support Groups
Most women bond with other pregnant women during their antenatal appointments.
If you find you are having problems in an area of breastfeeding, you could consult with one or more of your friends who are experiencing success with theirs and get to watch how she does it.
You could also join support groups around you and share your concerns with other mothers or professionals who will proffer expert advice on how you can successfully overcome the problem.
3 - Cuddle Your Baby to Your chest Skin to Skin
Most hospitals will allow you cuddle your baby right after he is born and cleaned up. This skin-to-skin contact will begin to establish the bond between you to.
It will also stimulate your breast milk production and also activate your baby’s sucking and feeding reflexes.
It is recommended that you prolong this contact as much as possible so as to produce adequate milk for your baby who will be ready to nurse one to two hours after he is born.
Skin-to-skin contacts also offers a lot of other benefits to your baby besides bonding and increased milk production:
- Helps the baby to adapt to his new environment sooner.
Your skin is usually the same temperature with your womb or really close to it, so baby will experience the same thermal environment while he adjusts to the outside world.
- Eliminates your baby's feelings of pains.
When you place your baby buck naked on your skin, his system releases the feel-good hormone, oxytocin which serves to relieve any stress or pain he might be in. With your baby feeling so good, he will become happier and sleep better.
- Eliminates post-partum depression.
Skin-to-skin contact also release oxytocin in you which will clear away any feelings of post partum depression you may be experiencing.
4 - Increase Your Food and Fluid Intake
Your breastmilk production will be based on what you take in. If you fail to take in adequate fluid or eat enough food you will produce very little milk that will fail to meet your baby’s needs.
A nursing mom needs 300-500 extra calories to meet her daily caloric needs for breastfeeding.
So you are safe if you consume 1800- 2500 calories daily and could experience headaches, dizziness, or extreme hunger if you go below this. You might want to increase your feeding and eat every 2-3 hours until your breastmilk supply gets established.
You should also include foods like oatmeal, carrots, leafy greens, fenugreek, fennel seeds, and brown rice in your diet to get the best quality and quantity milk for your baby’s nourishment. You should also drink enough fluid; about 2.5 liters to meet your daily needs.
5 - Enlist the Help of Your Partner
Taking care of a newborn is a daunting task and the first few weeks may see you feeling extremely pressured, tired and stressed. You would be working with your child’s timetable; getting less sleep than you are used to and catering to the entire needs of a new human.
With this feeling of stress, your breastmilk supply is bound to suffer and reduces. This is where your partner comes in.
Men are wired to be problem-solvers and this is where this skill comes in handy.
You can express some milk for dad to feed the little one while you catch a few hours of much needed sleep. The rest you get will relieve the stress and get you back to optimum health and production again.
6 - Preventing Your Baby from Failing Asleep
Your little one failing asleep few minutes into nursing can be frustrating.
Normally, a baby takes his mouth off the breast once he is full, but with him falling asleep, you are left unable to determine if he nursed to his satisfaction.
There are ways to prevent this and keep your baby nursing for longer:
- Tickle his bottom feet.
- Tickle the bottom of his ring finger, the side facing inward.
- Run a finger along his spine.
- Burp him halfway through the feed.
- Carry him upright, his feet hanging, or keep him seating upright.
- Massage his palm in a circular motion using your thumb.
- Pretend to remove your nipple. Babies have a reflex to keep the nipple in their mouth, especially if they are yet full.
- Switch breasts after a while or tickle him under the chin.
- Put on some loud music; not too loud, but loud enough to keep him awake.
- Feed him in a slightly noisy environment.
- Use a wet wash cloth to gently wash his face.
- Change his diaper halfway through the feed.
7 - Get Your Sore Breast Healed
Cracked or bleeding nipples occur when baby doesn’t get a good latch from the get-go. It can be quite painful and makes breastfeeding very uncomfortable.
A good way around this is to nurse your baby on the less-sore nipple at the start of a feed. Babies tend to latch on very strongly when they are hungry and this will hurt if you place him on your cracked nipple.
You should place him on the less sore nipple and transfer him to the other once his hunger is sufficiently reduced.
8 - Use Natural Remedies to Heal Your Nipples
Cracked nipples sometimes take a considerable amount of time to heal and each time your baby nurses at it, you feel the pain so sharply it will practically move you to tears.
Some good ways to heal your bleeding nipples on time are:
- Apply breastmilk to it.
Breastmilk contains healing and antibacterial properties and is one of the best and fastest ways you can heal your cracked nipples. Apply a few drops to the nipple or let the nipples air-dry.
- Use a warm compress on the nipples 10-15 minutes before nursing.
- Apply fresh aloe vera gel to the affected nipples and let it air-dry for 15 minutes. Wash off with warm water and a dish cloth afterwards.
- Apply a cold compress to the nipples several times daily.
- Apply few drops of tea tree oil to a cup of warm water and, using a wash cloth, dab at the nipples several times daily. These oils have antiseptic and antifungal properties and are fast in producing result.
9 - Working Mothers
If you plan to return to work after a few months then working out a good plan will come in handy. You might want to look into getting a crèche or getting a nanny for your little one.
You can express some breastmilk and store in a fridge or refrigerator until needed. By using breastmilk storage bags, the breastmilk can be stored for 72 hours in the fridge or up to 6 months when frozen.
When you are ready to use it, pour the milk into a bottle feeder, put some hot water into a bowl and place feeder into the bowl. Leave for a minute or two to heat breastmilk up or you can just use a bottle warmer to warm up the milk.
10 - Use a Nursing Pillow
Nursing pillows are designed to offer comfort to a mother when nursing her baby. They provide comfort and support for your baby and help him get a good latch.
11 - Put Baby to Breast Often
As earlier said, breastmilk production answers to the law of demand and supply, so putting your baby to your breasts often will stimulate the production of more milk.
Most mothers get discouraged when the breast fails to meet their baby’s food needs and since the cry of your child can be quite piercing, it’s very easy to rush to rectify this problem and introduce bottle feeding.
This is counter- productive as it hides the true depth from of your baby’s needs from your breast which means they can’t produce more milk.
As hard at it seems, placing your baby continuously at your breasts will pay off after a few days as your milk production increases.
12 - Experiment with Different Breastfeeding Positions
You might want to experiment with different breastfeeding positions until you get one that’s comfortable for you and your baby and gives your baby the opportunity to get a good latch.
13 - Use Breastfeeding Pads
During the first weeks of breastfeeding, you will experience leaky breasts as your breasts struggle to establish a breastmilk supply that’s just adequate for your baby.
This can seep through your clothes to make a wet patch around your nipple area, making you self-conscious or embarrassed.
You can have this problem taken care of by investing in a few good breast pads which will mop up this milk and prevent it from seeping through.
14 - Regularly Burp Your Baby after Each Feed
Others find it a little harder to burp and you may find you spend 10-20 minutes at a spot, your baby placed over your shoulder while you patiently wait for him to burp.
A few babies are especially more delicate and will asphyxiate if you lay them down without burping.
A good way to ensure a baby burps is to burp them immediately they finish eating, not waiting a minute longer. As soon as he takes his mouth off your breast, place him high up on your shoulder and gently pat his back.
This ensures that the bubbles do not have the time to settle and build but are let out immediately. The longer you wait to raise him after a feed, it longer it will take to burp him.
15 - Use a Breast Pump
Using a breast pump will also get things along and get your breastmilk flowing.
This is because pumping your breasts regularly creates the impression your baby is nursing and has a huge need and your system will produce more milk to meet up.