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Breastfeeding Tips for Success

July 22, 2010

Most lactation experts agree that attitude, planning, and technique are crucial to successful breastfeeding. Here are tips to make nursing a pleasant experience:

1. Get informed. Breastfeeding is best for you and your baby. Allowing yourself to be aware of its benefits provides you the “I can do it attitude” to start and continue breastfeeding. Ask a supportive health professional who can provide you the how tos of breastfeeding and discuss with you other related concerns. They can also suggest to you breastfeeding books and materials that allow you to recognize and overcome breastfeeding problems.

2. Inform your caregiver. The first milk that comes out of your breasts after you give birth, called colostrum, is packed with anti-bodies that serves as your child’s first immunization. Since you will still be in the hospital when your first milk comes out, inform your doctor and the hospital staff that you want to breastfeed so that your baby will be put to your breast immediately after delivery and needs to room it with you.

3. Enlist your partner’s support. A child’s nutrition is a shared responsibility. Getting your husband, and even your whole family, supportive of breastfeeding allows you to be motivated and be able to do it. There are breastfeeding meetings that couples can attend that offer practical ideas on how fathers can contribute with breastfeeding.

4. Know your breasts. Regardless of shape and size, almost all women can breastfeed. Most women find comfort in having their breasts examined. A check-up provides reassurance that their breasts are normal and preparing to produce milk for their baby. If your nipples are inverted or you had previous breast surgery, the consultation allows you to discuss ways to make breastfeeding possible.

5. Nurse within the first hour after birth. Try breastfeeding your baby soon after birth. If you had a Caesarean birth, ask your caregiver to lay your newborn across your abdomen and help him latch on. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies who are nursed within the first hour of birth are more likely to become successful breastfeeders.

6. Nurse often. Crying is a late sign of hunger. Learn to interpret your baby’s hunger cues and feed him before he cries. Common signs that your baby is hungry is looking alert, putting hands near his mouth, and whimpering. Frequent nursing in the early days helps you and your baby to get comfortable with breastfeeding and allows you to establish your milk supply.

7. Express breastmilk to keep up your milk supply. Some mothers find that they produce plenty of milk and their breasts easily get engorged. When this is the case, expressing milk manually or with a pump is recommended to keep up your milk supply and relieve your breasts from the pressure. You may use expressed milk for your baby’s next feeding or store it for future use. Breastmilk is good for 24 hours in room temperature and can be stored for 6 months in a deep freezer.

8. Hold off the pacifier. Introducing a pacifier can cause nipple confusion. Hold off their use until your breastfeeding routine is going well and your milk supply is well established, which is usually three to four weeks after delivery.

9. Encourage your baby to latch on. Stroke your baby’s cheek or lower lip to stimulate latching. To determine if the baby is latched on correctly, make sure your areola and nipple are both in they baby’s mouth and positioned above his tongue. The baby’s lower lip shouldn’t be drawn into his mouth and his chin is touching your breast. Do not be discouraged when your baby has difficulty latching on. It does take practice for both mother and child.

10. Get comfortable. When breastfeeding, find a quiet spot to nurse. Sit in a comfortable chair or listen to soothing music. Studies show, and as most nursing mothers share, that a calm mind, body, and surrounding allows for a more pleasant breastfeeding experience.

Even with the availability of books and manuals on breastfeeding, most new moms usually seek the help of family or friends who have breastfed and even breastfeeding support groups to get them started and continue breastfeeding.

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