Nature has generously given mothers the perfect food for their newborns. Breast milk is well-tempered and always available. It is also vital in building immunity. Did you know that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer? It also creates an intimate connection between mother and child. But breastfeeding needs to be learnt!
Most problems start when lactation is put off.
The best time for the first attempt is immediately after birth as the baby begins to suckle instinctively. But do not be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t go too well. And definitely do not resort to bottle-feeding. Sometimes, it takes several attempts before you get it right.
You may be too tired from the stress of the birth process and need a good rest first. If it’s been a difficult birth and you’re still under anaesthesia, do not worry – there’s time to catch up, even if it takes a few days.
Consulting a lactation specialist before your baby is born will make you feel more secure about breastfeeding. While still in hospital, you can also address all your queries about the process to a lactation nurse.
Some women are surprised at how painful breastfeeding can be. Sometimes, nipples can get so sore on day two or three that some women have to grit their teeth when the child suckles. However, this is completely normal. After all, breastfeeding is a sudden and unusual burden on otherwise sensitive body parts. Even if you harden your nipples during pregnancy (with brush massages, cold showers etc), it may not help.
• Make sure your baby is drinking with the whole nipple in his mouth plus the atrium.
• If your baby falls asleep while drinking, make sure to move his mouth away from your chest. You can take your baby aside by putting a finger between his lips and carefully removing the vacuum. Never yank your nipple out of his mouth!
• Let breast milk dry after breastfeeding. The mixture of milk and baby’s saliva is best air-dried and is an anti-inflammatory.
• During a breastfeeding session, change positions to distribute the strain. Sometimes, lie down and feed with while at other times, feed while sitting. This also makes sure the breasts are emptied uniformly.
• Switch sides frequently during each breastfeeding session and don’t let your baby suckle for too long at one breast.
• If your nipples hurt while feeding, wait it out. Usually, the pain disappears in a couple of days as your breasts adjust to the process. If the pain persists or your sore nipples don’t heal, you should consult a doctor or midwife. Sometimes, this could be due to a fungal infection and this requires medical attention.