For new or to-be parents, breastfeeding brings a lot of questions and doubts. Here is a list of things you need to look into and ensure you know enough about:
1. What you can do to prepare for breastfeeding before the baby arrives
You do not have to wait until the delivery to start these checking off these on your breastfeeding to-do list:
- Avail prenatal care: Prenatal care is important and necessary for you and your baby’s well-being regardless of whether you are going to breastfeed or not. These regular checkups keep track of your progress in the pregnancy. Timely vaccinations, a balanced diet, taking vitamin supplements if prescribed – all of these contribute to how well you and your baby feel after the delivery.
- Attend a breastfeeding class: Many women find themselves better prepared and less stressed when they breastfeed for the first time when they have attended breastfeeding classes prior to the experience. These classes give you a hands-on insight into how breastfeeding works so that you know how to handle a possible scenario well. Moreover, being around and spending some time with people who are also going through the same thing helps a lot. You feel understood and you know there are people you can turn to for support later on, too. Your partner can tag along with you too so that you both have the necessary knowledge for this step into parenthood.
- Purchase any items related to breastfeeding: You will find a lot of items in the market that help alleviate pain etc. and just make breastfeeding a more comfortable process. Ask our doctor which products you need to buy. You can also consult your friends and family members who have recently given birth to find out what they used and how it helped them. These items include nursing covers and pillows etc. Try to see if you can find a free breast pump from your hospital or insurance plan. Nursing bras and nightgowns are also quite helpful. When buying nursing bras – they have flaps on them you can open during feeding – look for one that is slightly bigger than your size so that the bra won’t feel too tight or uncomfortable when your breasts fill up with milk.
- Formulate a birthing plan with breastfeeding in mind: Fill out the instructions for your birth plan well in time. Add breastfeeding to it and share it with all the necessary people – family, insurance provider, and of course your doctors and nurses. Make sure your insurance provider acknowledges that you are going to breastfeed and has adequate arrangements in place to include that in your plan.
2. Latch and positioning
There are a few things you need to know about positioning. Firstly, there is no set position for it – what works for you and your baby, works. Here are the most common positions employed –
- The cradle position – In this, you have to put the baby’s head in between your arm. Give support to their back and bottom using your forearm. The baby should be facing you, and our breast should be in level with your baby’s face.
- The side-lying position – Lie down on a comfortable surface and put your baby beside you in a way that you are facing each other. You should be close enough so that latching on is easy. You can use a pillow to prop your baby up if needed.
- The football position – Here, you have to tuck your baby underneath your arm to your side with their head resting in your hand. Use your forearm to support the baby. You should be facing each other.
- The cross-cradle – In this position, you hold your baby on the side opposite to the breast the baby is going on to feed on. The baby’s head and bottom should be supported and facing you. This position especially suits and help babies who were born prematurely, or have a problem in sucking.
3. Pain caused by breastfeeding
There are a couple of things you can do to avoid pain or swelling in your breasts.
Firstly, do not set a strict time limit for each feeding session. Let your baby pause, take the time, and tell you with their cues that they are full. Following a time limit may lead to your baby not being able to finish feeding – that only means the hunger has not abated, and that your breasts are still heavy, as your milk ducts have not been emptied. This can also lead to a decrease in milk supply.
Secondly, if you are feeling pain or found any sort of bruising on your breasts – it is possibly because your baby hasn’t been able to latch on to you well. Consult with your doctor and find a way to solve the issue, rather than not saying anything, as that only means more pain for you.
4. Read your babies cues and behavior
Just because your baby is not talking yet, does not mean they are not communicating to you. You can tell by how active they are in play, the frequency of wet nappies and heavy diapers you come across every day to gauge how well your baby has been feeding.
During a session, babies may look away, pause, or stop suckling for a bit. You can burp them at that time and give them a few minutes before resuming. Likewise, babies who have fed well will act generally more content and satisfied than those who have not. You can keep an eye out for these signs to tell you how to go about a breastfeeding session.
There are a lot of decisions to be made for your baby’s well-being. One of them is regarding the baby’s food habits. It is better to decide whether you want to go with breastfeeding, formula or both early on. Doing so will give you a head start in the game and you will be able to better prepared for it in various aspects.