Expecting a baby can be a joyous and confusing experience. One of the many concerns women have about a newborn is whether or not they should breastfeed. Breastfeeding is very beneficial to the baby and should be considered if you are able to do so. Here are ten pieces of advice every mother should consider when breastfeeding:
- Begin ASAP: It is vital to begin the breastfeeding process as soon as possible. As early as one hour after birth is perfectly acceptable and provides a number of benefits. The initial breast milk (colostrum) provides immunological benefits to the baby and stimulates the digestive tract.
- Latch-on made easy: When the baby's mouth is fully opened, quickly pull him or her onto the breast with the same arm that is holding him or her. If done correctly, the baby's gums should completely cover the nipple and part of the areola with the baby's lips sealed around the area.
- Let the baby take her/his time: When possible, do not limit the amount of time that the baby spends breastfeeding or the number of times. You will find yourself having to feed more often if you cut the baby's milk off prematurely during a sitting.
- No artificial nipples: If you plan on breastfeeding, do not use artificial nipples or feed via bottle. Eventually, the baby may end up refusing the real nipple. Due to the easier attainability of milk via a bottle, babies will develop incorrect sucking habits as well, leading to a painful and ineffective natural breastfeeding process.
- Sleep around your baby's schedule: Due to the frequent necessity of breastfeeding your baby, you will have difficulty sleeping if you try to stick to a traditional schedule. Attempt to sleep whenever your baby does; you will be less irritable from lack of sleep when you sleep approximately three hours every eight hours.
- Use a sling: Try donning a sling to help keep your baby close-at-hand while being hands-free. This helps you to be more mobile. There are slings and baby wraps that are specially made to orientate a baby to be able to breastfeed while keeping the action private, which is great for more public situations in which breastfeeding is necessary.
- Replenish: Your body will be using a lot of fluids during the breastfeeding process, so it is important to be properly hydrated. Every time you sit down to breastfeed, drink a glass (8-12 oz) of water. This will periodically replenish your fluids, allowing you to breastfeed with ease.
- Avoid tight clothing: It is important to avoid wearing tight-fitting bras and other forms of clothing during the first few weeks after birth to allow sore nipples to heal properly. If you need extra support, use a bra that avoids the areola and nipple to allow the area to remain free of irritating, tight clothing.
- Let the baby sleep near you, not with you: By placing a bassinet or crib near your bed, you have access to the baby and can feed when necessary without having to get up and disrupt your sleep cycle further. Remove the baby and lay him or her with you in the bed and place the baby back in the crib or bassinet to sleep when done. Never sleep in the same bed with an infant due to the movements of an average person while asleep.
- Keep diapers handy: During the first month of breastfeeding, babies may have a bowel movement immediately following breastfeeding. This is completely normal and will decrease in frequency with age. It takes time for the baby's intestinal tract to fully develop and exert more control, so in the initial stages it is very common for the equation 'something goes in = something comes out'.
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