Even though breastfeeding is natural, it often has many challenges. These challenges come during a time of much change and little sleep, so we have compiled a simple list to answer your common questions.
First and foremost, a fed baby is best
Your baby is getting the nutrition they need whether they are breastfed, formula fed or drinking expressed breast milk from a bottle.
Feed often and on demand to create a strong milk supply
The first three months of breastfeeding are the most important to establish a strong milk supply. Some moms get in the habit of feeding at a particular frequency, but you should feed baby as often as they show signs of hunger. This can sometimes be every 1-3 hours and sometimes even more often if a baby is cluster feeding.
Many moms worry their baby is not getting enough milk and want to supplement with formula. Since breastfeeding is all about supply and demand, this can actually lead to a decrease in supply. You can tell if your baby is getting enough if they are having at least 6 wet diapers in 24 hours, gaining weight and are satisfied after feeding. If you have concerns that your baby is not getting enough breastmilk contact your pediatrician or a lactation consultant.
It is called breast feeding, not nipple feeding
- Try to get as much of the areola tissue in your baby’s mouth for the best latch. Latching only to the nipple can cause pain for mom and does not allow adequate sucking for the infant to efficiently pull milk from the breast.
- You can try the “sandwich” technique by compressing your breast tissue and bringing baby to your breast for a deep latch. Some small infants may require the mother to keep their breast compressed like a sandwich while they feed until they have a stronger latch.
- Remember “nipple to nose.” When latching baby, line up their nose across from your nipple. Aim your nipple towards the roof of baby’s mouth for a proper latch.
Get into a comfortable and supported position
Mother and baby often spend a lot of effort practicing latching in the beginning. It is common for new breastfeeding mothers to have neck pain, back pain and issues with their wrists from the constant adjustments. When working on getting the baby to get a deep latch make sure you are comfortable and relaxed. When baby is very tiny, you will often need to use pillows beneath your nursing pillow to help bring your baby up to the level of your breast. Also remember to add pillows for support on your sides so you have a place to rest your arms comfortably.
Bring the infant TO YOUR BREAST – this may sound obvious at first but many moms are hunched over trying to bring their breast to their infant who is laying more on the pillow than on mom’s body and that can cause back pain and more difficulty latching.
While we want mom to be comfortable, sometimes baby can get too comfortable and fall asleep during feedings and change from eating to non-nutritive sucking. When your baby is eating you will hear a swallowing sound. When they are only sucking, they are not removing milk from your breasts to encourage a milk supply and are also not getting any nutrition. To avoid this, unswaddle your baby when feeding and put them skin-to-skin. You can also try and feed them as soon as they wake, when they are most alert. Another trick is to tickle the bottoms of their feet to stimulate them to stay awake.
Ask for help sooner than later and know this stage is not forever
Don’t suffer alone and feel like you must figure it out on your own. Lactation consultants have a wealth of knowledge and can be a significant help during the stressful start of breastfeeding. It can seem daunting when you are feeding your baby every couple of hours both day and night but know that this is not forever.
Brittany Sliter BSN, RN-BC, CPN
Lindsay Mirrione BSN, RN