Unquestionably, breast milk is the ideal food for a newborn. It provides the proper nutrients in the right proportions. It offers definite immune benefits, is instantly available and is free. Breast-fed babies are less constipated, have less colic and diarrhea, experience fewer colds, ear infections and skin rashes, and are less likely to develop allergic problems. There are very few medical conditions that prohibit breastfeeding. It is recommended that breast-fed babies receive supplemental Vitamin D, which can be found in over-the-counter infant multi-vitamin drops.
Get comfortable. Lying on your side leaning forward slightly or sitting in a well-cushioned chair are comfortable positions. There are two positions to hold your baby for breastfeeding. You can hold your baby completely on his side (belly to belly with yours), or you can hold your baby under your arm like a football.Tickle the baby’s lips up and down with the nipple until your baby opens his mouth. Be patient and wait until the mouth opens wide. Quickly draw your baby close in to you. You want your baby to suck behind the nipple on the brown area. Sucking on the nipple is painful. If painful nipples persist, be sure you are following this technique. For the belly-to-belly position, place your thumb and index finger in a U shape and lift your breast. For the football position, place your thumb and index finger in a C shape and lift your breast. Hold back the breast from your baby’s nose with your fingers so he can breathe easily while nursing. You can use both breasts for each feeding, alternating the beginning breast at each feeding; or, you can use one breast for each feeding, alternating the breasts every other feeding. In general, babies empty a breast in 10 minutes. You may nurse as long as you like on each side, but do not allow the breast-feeding to be used as a pacifier. As time goes by, you will become familiar with the feeling of an empty breast and will change to the other side for the second half of the feeding. Remember, if you have sore nipples, you need to recheck the technique to be sure your baby is not sucking the nipple itself. When finished, press down gently on the part of the breast next to the corner of your baby’s mouth or gently insert your fingertip into the corner of the mouth, breaking the suction. This allows for gentle removal of the nipple.
Often with the first feeding, the baby is not very wide-awake, hungry or interested. If your baby keeps falling asleep during feedings try to find methods that will wake him up to finish feeding, such as changing his diaper between breasts, undressing him or tickling his feet. Make every attempt to feed your baby the immune-rich colostrums whenever he is awake. Usually the milk comes in on the third day. Sometimes you won’t even know the milk has come in except for the slurping you hear while your baby is sucking. Your breasts will then begin to feel more comfortable as the milk leaves the breast. It takes several weeks to establish a stable milk supply. Most babies will want to nurse very frequently. This does not mean you do not have enough milk. The more your baby wants to suck, the more your breasts will be stimulated to produce milk. However, do not nurse your baby more frequently than every 2 hours from the start of one feeding to the start of the next feeding. As babies are able to last longer between feedings, your milk supply will adjust itself to the demand of your baby. Be careful of using frequent formula supplements, as too many of them will decrease the times your baby sucks, thereby decreasing the amount of milk you produce for the next day. Since the only real stimulus to milk production is emptying the breast, frequent nursing helps build up your milk supply. You can, however, get to a point of diminishing returns if your baby is nursing every hour. Fatigue, tender nipples and shortened filling times may reduce the quality of milk. Talk to your pediatrician if this happens or consult the lactation consultant at your hospital. He or she can be a great source of support and information.
Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your nipples. Wipe nipples with clean water before and after nursing. Leave bra open and nipples exposed to air for five to 10 minutes after nursing. Remember, if nipples are sore, the nursing technique needs to be adjusted.