Breastfeeding comes naturally to you and your baby and is said to build the mother-baby bond. Experts advise that you should look at your little one in the eyes and smile at them as they suckle. This helps you connect with your baby. But breastfeeding is not always intuitive, at least not at first. If you are a first-time mom, here are a few tips to help you and your baby enjoy feeding.
1. Breastfeed right after birth
Breastfeeding right after delivery sets you and your little one up for success, but both of you may not know what to do, and your milk might not let down. Ask experts at the hospital or your midwife to help get a good start. Early breastfeeding signals the brain and body to produce breast milk. In the beginning, your body will produce colostrum (yellowish milk), which is packed with antibodies to protect your baby from diseases.
2. It doesn’t have to hurt
If your baby has a good latch, breastfeeding will not be painful. Learn how to position your baby to ensure a good latch. It may take some practice, but your nurse, midwife or doctor will be happy to help. Generally, a good latch appears as if your little one’s cheek and chin are attached to you and you are unable to see her lips. This position is comfortable, so pain is the first sign that your baby’s latch is a little off. To get the best latch, sit comfortably and position your baby nose to nipple, belly to belly.
3. Anticipate feeding time
From the moment your baby is born, look for tell-tale signs of hunger instead of waiting for her to cry. Your baby may raise or turn her head repeatedly as if looking for your breast or she may open and close her mouth. She may even stick out her tongue or suck on what is near her. When you notice any of these signs, offer your breast immediately. Your little one will be happy they don’t have to struggle to get your attention.
4. Let your baby determine how often they want to feed
Generally, infants feed every two hours, but it is best to let your baby show you what they need. Don’t deny her food if ‘enough time’ hasn’t gone by or wake her from sleep if it’s been three hours since she fed. Also, let your baby determine how long she wants to feed. If nursing lasts ten minutes or stretches to forty-five minutes, don’t panic. Right now, they know how much they need better than you do.
5. Have your little one in your room
Babies should sleep in the same room as their parents, at least for the first year to decrease the risk of SIDS. Having your little one close by also makes feeding easier. Have your baby sleep in a crib or cradle and keep it close enough so you can hear her when she needs your attention. Having your baby in your bed is not safe. Your little one can become trapped and suffocate. Cribs and cradles are designed for babies and are the safest place for infants to sleep.
6. Give the pacifier some time off
Some babies are happier when suckling on something, but giving your little one a pacifier too soon might interfere with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and sacking on a pacifier are different. Instead, introduce the pacifier once your baby masters breastfeeding.
Sometimes you may find breastfeeding tougher than you expected. Don’t get discouraged or worry about it too much. Give it time, and the two of you will get the hang of it.