Most expectant mums are aware of the many benefits that breastfeeding offers to both mum and baby, including the close bond that is developed in the process.
In Singapore, nursing mums breastfeed for an average of 8.1 months. Despite the known advantages, breastfeeding success does not come easily to nursing mums.
To prepare yourself for breastfeeding success, here are some breastfeeding tips for newborns, as shared by experts and parents!
Breastfeeding tips for newborns to ensure breastfeeding success for nursing mums
Learn about breastfeeding
While textbook knowledge can never fully prepare you for the real thing, reading up on how to breastfeed successfully and watching breastfeeding videos gives you a clearer idea of what to do and expect.
Set aside some time to go through these so that you don’t feel like you’re plunging into the deep end when baby comes out.
Attend prenatal classes and workshops
Breastfeeding makes up but one part of baby care. If you’re a first time mum, learning about baby care through prenatal classes and workshops conducted by paediatricians can prepare you better for breastfeeding.
Stock up on breastfeeding supplies
All you really need to breastfeed is a baby, but if you prefer not to direct latch exclusively, look into purchasing an electric breast pump and reusable breast milk storage bottles. Some brands are designed to let you pump and feed directly using the same bottle, which minimises wastage during transfers.
At the Hospital
Initiate skin-to-skin contact
If your delivery is an uncomplicated one, your baby will likely be placed on your chest for an hour or so for “kangaroo care”. This act of bare skin-on-skin is essential in establishing a first latch. Most, if not all, newborns are able to make their way to their mother’s breast and start latching on instinct. This is known as the breast crawl.
Begin latching as soon as possible
The first hour after delivery is known as the “Magic Hour”, and this is the perfect time to initiate latching.
Room-in with your baby
Newborns feed about eight to 12 times a day. When your newborn is kept close to you, you will be able to observe his or her hunger cues, establishing rapport that is necessary for breastfeeding success.
In a breastfeeding friendly hospital, your baby will only be taken to the nursery for checks, vaccinations and baths.
Feed your baby often, as long as he shows hunger cues
Your breasts provide more than nourishment – it is a safe haven and the most comforting place for newborns.
As newborns have tiny tummies, they can be breastfed frequently and they will stop suckling when they are full. Learn how to recognise early, mid and late hunger cues. When your baby exhibits late hunger cues, you will first need to calm him before feeding.
Seek help from a lactation consultant
Most hospitals engage qualified lactation consultants to assist new mothers and provide breastfeeding tips for newborns. The lactation consultant can watch and adjust your baby’s position to ensure a good and deep latch that is less painful for your baby.
Find a comfortable latching position
Side-lying, cradle, football hold and the cross-cradle hold – these are the names of latching positions that you can try out to find one that is the most comfortable for you.
Ensure a good latch
A good latch ensures that your baby gets enough milk without having to suckle too hard. A poor latch not only frustrates your baby but causes poor weight gain, sore nipples and clogged ducts as well.
Check with your lactation consultant to see if your baby has a tongue-tie or other conditions that complicates latching.
During the First Month
Avoid using artificial teats
Artificial teats refer to pacifiers and baby bottles. These suppress hunger cues and prevents baby from latching on time. Instead of using baby bottles, try feeding with the cup, spoon or syringe if you wish to take time off from direct latching.
Keep your baby close
Co-sleeping with your baby using a side-sleeper can keep you in tune with your baby’s hunger cues and needs.
Feed on demand rather than on schedule
If you are breastfeeding your baby, use hunger cues instead of the clock to determine when to nurse. Nursing mums can’t tell exactly how much their babies consume. To know if your baby is consuming enough milk, monitor the number of wet nappies your baby produces.
Maintain a healthy diet and consume enough water
Breastmilk is made of 88% water and as such, if you are breastfeeding, remember to consume at least three litres of fluid a day. This can be in the form of juices, soups and healthy beverages.
A healthy and nutritious diet replenishes your body with the nutrients that is passed on to your baby.
Learn how to express milk
In the beginning, you may encounter engorgement even when you direct latch on demand as your breasts are regulating supply. Breastmilk is produced on a supply-and-demand basis and the more your breasts are emptied, the more milk will be produced. Therefore, expressing milk using your hands or a breast pump ensures that your milk supply will not decrease.
In the first month, many nursing mums may suffer from engorgement. If engorgement is not relieved, it may lead to mastitis, a painful condition. Relieve engorgement by placing cold towels on your breasts or try out the dangle latching position.
Find support from family or join a support group
A breastfeeding support group provides much needed emotional support and keeps your mental health in check.
Read also: Confinement Practices: Fact or fiction?
Nursing mums truly have to put in effort to establish correct breastfeeding techniques, but the outcome is rewarding and beautiful.