5 tips for breastfeeding your baby
Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural way to feed and nourish your newborn child. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has studied the benefits of breast feeding and found that it can decrease ear infections by 30-43 percent, obesity rates by 10 percent, asthma by 37 percent and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) incidence by 40-60 percent. Breastfeeding can also be challenging for a new mom, though, so here are 5 tips to help you on your breastfeeding journey.
1. Feed As Early As Possible
The first few hours are important in the hospital – it’s often called the Golden Hour. This time helps you bond with your baby and most hospitals allow for immediate breastfeeding time as long as your baby is medically stable. Even caesarian section moms are being allowed this opportunity if mom and baby are stable shortly after birth. Weighing, measuring and bathing the baby can wait until after that first hour.
If you can’t have this important hour, ask to initiate pumping within 1-6 hours.
Babies can sense stress from you and don’t feed as well. Stress affects oxytocin – the hormone that affects milk release – and decreases milk let down. So, create a calm environment and reduce visits from friends and family at first. Many women, especially new breast feeders, will unintentionally ignore hunger clues when visitors are at the hospital because they are embarrassed to breastfeed in front of them. De-stress your environment and tell them now is the time for you and your baby to establish feeding and bonding time and they can visit later once your baby is stronger and feeding is established!
3. Feed Often
How much is enough when you breast feed? How do you know when your baby is properly nourished?
Babies feed 8-12 times in a day when breast fed. Monitoring output is a great way to gauge adequate feeding. In the first 24 hours, babies need to void - urine & stool - once each. This should increase by 1 each for each day they are alive in the next few days.
At Birth: Their stomachs are tiny. 5-7 millimeter or the size of a cherry to be exact. They will want to feed every 60-90 minutes at first and will want to eat 5-20 minutes per side.
This is the stage that many moms are tempted to give a bottle because they think the baby is starving because they want to feed all the time. Hang in there! Your baby is getting nutrient dense colostrum and is trying to stimulate your real milk to come in.
By Day 3: Their stomachs are 30 ml or the size of a walnut. They will want to feed every 90-120 minutes. This is usually when most moms’ milk has come in and real swallowing is heard when they feed – Success!
By Day 7: Their stomachs are 45-60 ml the size of a nectarine.
Most babies lose 7-10 percent of original birth weight in this first week, but know that this is normal and they regain it by the second week. It’s important to have a follow-up appointment with a pediatrician to monitor weight 1-2 days after discharge.
*Hot Tip: Need help tracking feeding? There are great apps where you can monitor everything from feeding sessions to your baby’s voids to time at breast.
4. Avoid Binky or Bottle Use – If Possible
You need to learn your baby’s hunger clues – such as moving their eyes, sucking on their hands, lip smacking, grimacing, whimpering or crying. Every child is different on how they communicate, but knowing these cues will make the feeding session that much more successful.
Binkies can be used after 3-4 weeks after breastfeeding has been established and you’ve learned your baby’s hunger clues. Avoiding bottles is crucial because baby needs to stimulate your milk to come in. Substituting feeds with formula short circuits that stimulation cycle and delays milk coming in.
*Note: In some cases, bottles are needed. Your pediatrician will discuss this with you, however, and show you ways to do it without short circuiting the breastfeeding process.
5. Ask For Help!
Your pediatrician is a great first resource for breastfeeding issues, but a lactation consultant is often invaluable. They can help with latching issues and recommend diet changes for mom and/or herbal remedies to boost mom’s supply, etc.
Remember, just because your body is designed to feed your baby, doesn’t mean it’s a piece of cake! Make sure you get support from your physician/pediatrician, home, work and even other moms. Having a support system and asking for help when needed will make this journey much more enjoyable and successful.
However we get there – the outcome of a healthy baby is really our ultimate goal!