Nursing your baby can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have as a mother, providing health benefits both for you and for your baby. But most new mothers don’t experience those picture-perfect moments during their first weeks at home.
The key to success is to anticipate problems and be patient as you and your baby work them out. Here are some tips to combat 3 common challenges:
Baby Your Nipples
Nipple soreness is almost always a short-term problem, most common during the first week or two. While your nipples adjust, and you learn the best positioning for your baby:
- Make sure you are nursing with the nipple and areola in the baby’s mouth, not just the nipple.
- Expose your nipples to air as much as possible, leaving the flaps open on your bra to let them dry after feedings and help prevent cracking and infection.
- Apply a lanolin crème such as Lansinoh after nursing to soothe the skin and keep it soft. Or, some experts suggest leaving milk on the nipple after feeding for protection.
- Avoid other types of creams and never use soap on your nipples.
- If your nipples crack or bleed, or if the pain persists, seek help from a lactation consultant.
Find the Correct Positioning
Successful nursing requires correct positioning. A lactation consultant can show you common positions — cradle hold, football hold, side-lying — and help you find a comfortable position for you and your baby. It can also be helpful to watch someone else breastfeed, but the key is to keep your baby’s head, neck, and back in a straight line, with his/her chest facing yours. Many nursing mothers use a pillow to help properly position their baby.
One of the most common issues new moms face is feeling like they are nursing all the time. In fact, it is normal for most newborns to want to breastfeed every one or two hours during the first few weeks, even during the night. Breast milk is digested more quickly than formula, and babies are used to being fed continuously in the womb. The best way to regulate your milk supply and keep your breasts from becoming engorged is to breastfeed on demand.
Some mothers stop nursing during the first few days or weeks because they feel they aren’t producing enough milk. However, if you can resist supplementing your baby’s diet with formula feedings for the first four to six weeks, your body will respond appropriately and produce an adequate supply of milk. Frequent nursing often helps prevent engorgement; however; if your breasts become hard, extremely tender and painful, and you run a fever or feel achy, contact your doctor or a lactation consultant for advice.
Baptist Health offers breastfeeding classes for pregnant women and consulting for new moms with questions about breastfeeding. For more information, visit BaptistForBabies.com and find the location nearest you. You do not need to be referred by a doctor, and you do not have to have delivered your baby at Baptist Health to receive assistance.