Breastfeeding My Baby, Where Do I Start?
By Melida Cohen
Congratulations you have a new baby! Having a new baby is hard enough but when you choose to breastfeed you sometimes feel that you made this experience even harder. Breastfeeding is not as difficult as it looks or as you may have heard from others. It is actually pretty easy and a very fulfilling way to nourish your newborn once you get the hang of it. Remember as with most things practice makes perfect! Breastfeeding is new to you and to your little one but with a little practice you two will become pros in no time!
During the first week of your baby's life, your breasts will produce colostrum for your baby to drink. Colostrum is rich in antibodies and aids the baby's immune system. It also helps him pass his first bowel movement, which is called meconium. Meconium is black and tarry looking and is in the first few diapers after birth. Then he begins to transition to a brown substance and after your milk comes in, it becomes a yellow, mustardy stool that is loose and watery. Bottle-fed babies pass firmer, tannish stools than breastfed babies.
After 24-48 hours after birth, your baby will start having wet diapers that will increase to two or three a day.
Your technique and positioning is a very important factor in ensuring that your breastfeeding experience is a great one. There are a few different positions that can be used to make the experience more comfortable for you and baby. Some of these positions include:
"Laying down - Lay down on you side with pillows behind you to support your back. Lay baby facing you with her head on a pillow your breast should be level with baby's mouth. Bend your legs with a pillow between your knees and then have baby latch on.
"Sitting Up - Sit up either in bed or a comfortable chair or couch with pillows supporting your back and head. Place a pillow on your lap and put baby on top of the pillow in your arms, you can rest your arms on the pillow to make it easier to bring baby up to your breast. Bend your knees to make this even easier have baby latch on.
"The Clutch Hold - This is also known as the football hold. This position is also good when nursing twins as it allows mom to have a baby on each side. Sit down and tuck your baby under your arm almost like a handbag. Rest baby's head on a firm pillow on your lap. Ensure that baby's feet are behind your back. Your hand is at the back of baby's neck, not on baby's head. Your arm will extend down baby's back, guide baby to latch on
These are just a few of the positions that you can use there is also the cradle hold, clutch hold, and the transition position. Do some research to learn these other positions to nurse your baby if you find the above positions uncomfortable.
While your baby drinks colostrum and then milk, you should listen for a pattern of "suck, suck, suck, swallow." This pattern will be rhythmic and there should be no "clicking noises. The "clicking sound can indicate that your baby is not properly latched on and may not be getting enough milk from you. If you start to hear this, you need to unlatch him and then reattach him. If you continue to hear this sound after reattaching him several times, then you may want to consult a lactation consultant or your pediatrician.
After the first week of life, you should see 6-8 wet diapers each day and at least 3 bowel movements a day. His urine should be clear and he should become more alert with each passing day. Your baby should also be gaining weight and growing, as this is the surest way to tell that they are getting enough nutrition. If you have two days in a row that deviates from the above indicators, then you should call your pediatrician immediately.
Breastfeeding problems, such as milk production difficulties, are not as common when using the PDF feeding method, but they do occur. Even if you are well rested, eating healthy, have a pretty routine life, and your baby is growing and getting enough food, you still may experience a milk production issue. Many things can cause production problems. Here are just a few.
Some things that can affect your milk supply are:
"What mom eats
"How much mom rests and sleeps
"Her state of mind
"The age of the mom
"How many children you have
"Your desire to breastfeed
"Your nursing capabilities
"Your nursing techniques
"Baby's latch on abilities
If you choose to breastfeed, it is very important that you take your baby for their check-ups as needed. If you don't, how will you know if he is getting enough milk and growing at the correct rate? There is no way for you to tell that your child is getting enough nutrition for sure without your child being weighed.
If you need any additional help you can contact the La Leche League International by telephone at (800) LALECHE (525-3243).
About The Author
Melida Cohen is author of "Baby's First Year: Everything You Should Know but probably don't," She is a mother to 3 children. Her goal is to empower new moms and mothers to be.