Learning the Art of Breastfeeding

No matter at what stage you are between thinking of falling pregnant or having a squishy newborn in your arms, you might feel overwhelmed by the breastfeeding subject. Most people (women) don’t realize that it is an art. An art that anyone can be highly successful in, with determination, patience, and support.

Over my 5-odd years as part of various mommy forums on Facebook, I’ve seen countess questions regarding this subject. And if it wasn’t for my go-to people at that stage, I probably would have given up too very early on. The questions, the concerns, the pain, the exhaustion, they can ALL be overcome; some more easily than others. The trick is just to find the right trick/change to do exactly that.

I have decided to write a short summary of what to do or where to get the answer should you start or already be on this beautiful road. By no means am I giving you all the information, as there is just too much. But I’ll add links of websites you could have a look at too, that has helped me over the time. I’m not going to go into why you should breastfeed and why it is the best, as that will take a whole post by itself. Thus I am going to assume you’ve already decided to make the decision to breastfeed and are just looking for some more answers/help.

Here are some of the most asked questions I’ve seen and/or heard, and their answers:

  • Baby is just born but I have no milk, should I give supplement?
    Your milk might take a few days to come in, usually 2 to 3. But for now, you have colostrum, which is exceptionally good for newborns. Just keep baby at the breast, for as long as possible and as often as possible.
  • My newborn is drinking the whole time, is he hungry? Is my milk not enough/not good enough?
    Your milk is exactly what he needs. Due to his tummy being so small (see pic) and the fact that breast milk digests within 90 min, it will make you feel like all you do is nurse. But also remember that for him, being close to you and nursing, not only satisfies the hunger and thirst, but also provides him with the security, love, comfort, and bond he needs/wants.
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http://www.babiesfirstlactation.com
  • How long should I nurse baby for, per breast?
    You should nurse until he is finished. Yes, it can be 10 minutes or even an hour at a time. Don’t time the feeds. This is comforting for him too and it helps to establish your supply (meaning to get in sync with your baby as how much to make etc.)
  • Left, right or both breasts?
    Offer the one side, let him finish. When finished and he wants more, offer the other side. Alternate between the 2 and get him to finish or empty the one first before going on to the next. You can use an elastic band (hair band) around your wrist or an app on your phone to remind you which side to feed from next. This will ensure he gets both fore-milk as well as hind-milk.
  • When should I feed baby?
    Short answer, on demand. Thus when baby demands it. And not in the sense of demanding it at the top of his lungs, that’s too late. There are earlier cues such as rooting for breast, making coo-ing sounds, hands to the mouth. What I did, is offer at each and every chance I got. Once I knew that the tummy was full and still not settled, then I’d look into other possible things, such as nappies etc.
  • My breasts feel empty and soft, has my milk dried up?
    Not at all. As long as baby is happy, feeding on demand, has enough wet and soiled nappies and gaining weight; then all is good. Your supply might just have established by now.
  • It hurts!
    Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt. If it hurts, then most likely your latch is incorrect. Even if this is not your first baby, doesn’t mean you won’t have an incorrect latch; baby needs to learn too. Get the latch corrected. The best and fastest way is to find either a La Leche League Leader or a Lactation Consultant that can come to you. They will most likely be able to spot the reason why or how it hurts and then help you to get it fixed. The good thing is that it does get easier.
    See this link of a very useful latching trick you can try out too.
  • They’re about to pop!
    This sounds like engorgement. And yes, it can make it difficult for baby to feed. The quickest solution is to express some, either by baby drinking more often or expressing yourself (hand or pump). Within the first 6 weeks or so, I’d suggest just hand expressions until you are comfy. Some swear by putting frozen cabbage leaves on or running some water over it to help alleviate the pressure, while hand expressing.
  • How often should baby poo?
    This differs from baby to baby. The general rule is that with an exclusively breastfed baby, they can either give you 12 poo nappies in one day, or 1 poo nappy in 12 or so days. As long as he doesn’t seem strained, then all is as it should be.
  • Is my baby gaining enough weight?
    In the first few weeks, baby will gain a lot of weight, it then starts to gradually decrease and by roughly 6 months it will decrease even more, per week.
  • Can or should I give him any other food or drinks before he is 6 months old?
    No. Read here why not.
  • I’m not getting anything else done as baby just wants to nurse. Is this normal?
    Yes, it’s totally normal. The baby helps to establish the supply. Sometimes they go through a growth spurt at which point your supply “gets changes”. Sometimes they just want to be close. Remember that the first few months, it is absolutely normal for baby to just want to be held and close to you. Even if that means that you can’t put baby down. Read more about it here. As well as here.
  • It burns/itches/hurts when baby latches.
    It would be posssible that you have thrush. This needs to be treated for both mom and baby as otherwise it will just be transferred back and forth between the 2 of you. There are ointments that both mom and baby can use and that does not need to be washed off before baby latches. Most ointments can be gotten over the counter. Make sure to keep using it for at least 2 weeks, even if all feels better. And try to cut out sugar and starch as thrush feeds off it.
  • It’s swollen, red and extremely sore.
    This sounds like mastitis. I seriously wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. Had it twice and I felt rotten. Mastitis can happen due to 3 things.
    1. Not feeding baby enough and regularly allowing baby to drain the breast.
    2. Infection gotten into the breast (make sure you wash hands before feeding).
    3. You haven’t rested enough and/or properly. Yes, this can cause it too.
    The quickest relief is to get the milk out – express and especially let baby feed as much and as often as possible from the affected breast. In worst case scenarios, you might need antibiotics when it’s caused by an infection. And rest!! A home remedy I’ve found that works is to make a paste of turmeric powder with lemon juice and apply all over, except the areola.

As the amount of info regarding breastfeeding is so vast, I’ve only listed the top Q&A’s. But I hope this has helped a bit at least.

I wish you success in the most beautiful and natural experience between you and your baby.

****

What would you like to add on to the above questions? Tell us in the comments.

 

 

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