You know the benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your new baby, you have done your research and read about feeding times and different holds. That does not mean ti will be easy. Both you and your baby are new to breastfeeding, and you are both learning on the fly. It is normal to have feeding problems, engorgement, or sore nipples. These tips offer practical solutions to many new moms' breastfeeding frustrations.
Ask for Advice After Baby's Birth
Whether you plan to give birth in a hospital or at home, shortly after birth you will be given your baby for skin-to-skin contact, and this will be your first chance to breastfeed. Ask for help of advice from the nurses or midwife. You might have read about different ways to position baby, but having someone who does this every day help you can save a lot of frustration! And they are already there. If your hospital has a lactation consultant, ask for a visit. Talk about any concerns you have. If you have had a cesarean section, the hospital nurses can help you find positions that are safe with your incision.
Feed Baby Often
Newborns need to eat every two to three hours, and this lasts for a few weeks. This can be exhausting, but this process builds and regulates your supply. As baby grows, his stomach grows and can hold more milk at each nursing session and will need to nurse less often.
If your breasts become engorged during this process, you want to nurse as soon as possible. Not only is engorgement painful for you, but baby has a hard time latching onto to an engorged breast. You may need to manually express some milk to relieve pressure and help baby latch on.
As you learn to recognize your baby’s hunger cues—motions and noises—will enable you to feed her before she gets frustrated and starts crying and becoming frantic.
You need to continue the healthy habits and diet from your pregnancy—healthy foods, no smoking, careful medication choices, limited alcohol and caffeine (talk to your pediatrician for his or her recommendations). When nursing, it is also very important to drink plenty of water or other liquids to help your body make the breastmilk needed for baby. Dehydration affects your supply and may make you tired or cause muscle cramps.
Ask for and Accept Support
You have people around you—your partner, any family coming to help with the new baby, any family that lives nearby, and friends. No one expects you to do it all yourself—don't forget that it takes a village. Are the middle-of-the-night feedings really getting to you? Ask your partner to handle the diaper changes and then bring baby to you. If a parent or sibling offers to help one day or on a regular basis, accept it and use that time as you want to. If you have had a c-section, do not overdo it. Ask for help and accept help if offered.
See a Professional for Continued Struggles
If you and baby continue to struggle, be sure talk to your pediatrician at your next appointment, or see a lactation consultant. Your baby might have a tongue tie or you you might have an overactive letdown. There are several problems that can easily fixed or worked around, once you know what they are. The professionals can also offer suggestions to help with supply or other problems.
If you want or need to pump to for when you return to work, don't wait until the week before going back to start. When you and baby have settled into a nice rhythm, it is time to use the pump. With practice, you will figure out your own system of pumping and storing breastmilk. Other caregivers should also work on giving baby a bottle. Having this figured out in advance will make your return to work significantly easier.