Many women believe that breastfeeding their infant will be no big deal; after all, women have been nursing their children for centuries. However, breastfeeding is not as intuitive as one may think. A lot of mothers have difficulty experiencing success, and as they struggle to help their little one get the nourishment that they need, they may feel uncomfortable and upset. Unfortunately, those feelings often lead the new parent to stop breastfeeding before they are able to truly give it a chance. The following tips are meant to be a support for mothers as they navigate this difficult time.
Contrary to popular belief, there are actually a number of different breastfeeding positions. One of the first things you should do with your infant is experiment to see what works best for the two of you. The cradle position is the one that many new mothers are familiar with. This is when your child’s head rests in your arm and their tummy is against yours. However, you can also hold your child almost like a football or lie on your side and pull the baby near to you. There are other positions as well; talk to your doctor or lactation consultant so they can model a few of them for you.
After you determine a position that works well, the next step is getting your little one to latch on. This is much easier said than done. You will need both of your hands; use one to hold your little one’s head into position and the other hand to hold your breast in position. Don’t rush the process; allow your baby to nurse as long as he seems to be feeding well. If he starts to drift off to sleep, encourage him to begin feeding again. If he doesn’t, switch sides. Try to allow him to eat for about ten minutes on each side, but remember that every infant is different and he may nurse for longer or shorter periods.
If you are interesting in bottle feeding your child eventually, you should wait about a month before you break out the bottle. If you don’t, your milk supply may be compromised. Also, do not feed your little one the first bottle yourself. If you do, your child may refuse it because they know that you can nurse them. Make sure you bottle feed at a time when your baby is relatively full and comfortable. He or she will not understand what is happening at first and will not understand that the bottle can make them feel satiated. Therefore, if they are very hungry, they may become distressed and not feed from the bottle. Finally, much like with breastfeeding, experiment with different positions. Your little one may want to be held like they are when they are nursing. Others may prefer something different. Figure out what works best for you.
Becoming a new mother is challenging and breastfeeding is a complicated part of the puzzle. Use the information above, along with guidance from your lactation consultation, to ensure that you experience success.