Breastfeeding 101 – You Got This !

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I’M A FAILURE AT BREASTFEEDING!

That is what I felt when I looked down in a haze of delight, exhaustion, and confusion at my beautiful new baby girl.  Drawing her near to my breast with a smile knowing that all the hard work, the nine months, everything was worth it because I was holding her and about to feed her for the first time.  It was going to be glorious!  And NOTHING!  My beautiful baby girl didn’t latch on.  My breast didn’t become tight and firm in anticipation.  My baby was becoming frustrated and screamed at me and I couldn’t do anything about it!

Have you had that same experience?

There were so many things I didn’t know, didn’t learn about, and didn’t read up on about breastfeeding.  I figured it would just come naturally to both me and my baby.  Instead it was an uphill battle for 2 weeks.  So what was the problem?  Well first of all, I had to have a C-section and I wasn’t told that the medicine could interfere with my breasts responding and reacting the way they should after surgery.  I didn’t know there were things I could have and probably should have done to start prepping my breasts for receiving this beautiful bundle of joy that would have helped us.

So as to prevent you from any of these agonies and frustrations I want to help you with some simple strategies for you and baby!

Before you give birth:

  • Prenatal care. It is important to take good care of yourself and your baby. Babies who are born early (premature) have a harder time breastfeeding.
  • Talk to your doctor. Make sure your doctor knows you plan to breastfeed. They can give you some resources. Ask questions about what type of care the hospital provides after birth. Some offer lactation consultants, who are breastfeeding specialists.
  • Breastfeeding class. Some women find that taking a class can help them practice for the real thing.
  • Breastfeeding items. Plan ahead by purchasing the items you need. These can include a nursing pillow, nursing bra, and covers. Some hospitals and insurance plans provide free breast pumps.

Breastfeeding 101:

Your breasts will start to fill up once your baby is born. At first, your body will produce a “pre-milk,” called colostrum. This could be thin and watery or thick and more yellow-colored. The pre-milk has a slower flow to help your baby learn to nurse. After 3 to 4 days of nursing, your real breast milk will come in.

Most babies are ready to eat 1 to 2 hours after birth. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to breastfeed.

  1. Wash your hands before each feeding.
  2. Place your baby in one of the breastfeeding positions (see below).
  3. Put the thumb of your free hand on top of your breast and your other fingers below.
  4. Touch your baby’s lips to your nipple until your baby opens their mouth wide.
  5. Put your nipple all the way in your baby’s mouth and pull your baby close to you. This lets your baby’s jaw squeeze the milk ducts under your areola (nipple).

How do I know if my baby is latched on?

The right way they will latch on is when both lips pout out and cover nearly all of your areola. Your baby’s jaw will begin to move back and forth. Your baby may make low-pitched swallowing noises instead of smacking noises. If you feel pain while your baby is nursing, they may not be latched on.

Your baby’s nose may touch your breast during nursing. Babies’ noses are designed to allow air to get in and out. If you are concerned that your baby can’t breathe easily, gently press down on your breast near your baby’s nose to give them more room to breathe. Your baby should not have to turn their head or strain their neck to nurse.

How should I hold my baby while breastfeeding?

There are several ways:

  • Cradle. Put your baby’s head in the crook of your arm. Support your baby’s back and bottom with your forearm. Your baby should be lying facing you. Your breast should be right in front of your baby’s face.
  • Side-lying. While lying down, place your baby alongside you. Your baby should be facing you. Pull your baby close to you so they can latch on. You can use a pillow to prop up, if needed. This position can help if you had a C-section. 
  • Football. Tuck your baby under your arm, along your side. Their head should be resting in your hand. Support your baby’s body with your forearm. Your baby should be facing you. This position can help if you had a cesarean section (C-section). It also can help if your breasts are large, your baby is small, or you have multiple babies.
  • Cross-cradle. Hold your baby with the opposite arm of the breast you are using. Support your baby’s head and bottom with the palm of your hand and forearm. Your baby should still be lying facing you. This position can help premature babies or babies who have a weak suck. It provides added head support.

The biggie is be comfortable!  The more relaxed you are in the process the more relaxed your baby is going to be.  She is going to sense if you are nervous, frustrated, or anxious.  And it will become a vicious circle.

We are now surrounded by great resources at the tip of our fingers.  But sometimes it can be an information overload.  So I like to go to my tried and true resources first and foremost before I venture out into the “information overload” world of technology.  With that being said some really great holistic resources on breast feeding are:

Dr. Axe: This article is great about breast milk production, quality, and more (click here).

Wellness Mama: Here she shares day by day even about post birth and feeding needs. Super helpful!  (click here).

The Essential Midwife:  This is probably my favorite! Stephanie Fritz is a midwife who has been teaching about the use of essential oils for pregnancy, birth, baby’s and more for many many years.  Being an essential oils educator myself, I find it super important for others to know how to effectively and safely use them, especially with and around our precious little ones.  This article is about is it safe to use oils for pregnancy and breastfeeding.  (click here)

Don’t allow this time with your baby to become a frustration or a burden.  It truly goes by too quickly.  Instead embrace it and look at even the bumps as moments to bond.  This will affect your entire health (mind body spirit) and your beautiful new bundle of joy!  

One final note and thought:  Did you know that the act of touch not only impacts our mood, our emotions, but also our mind, and our physical health.  We are physically healthier because of touch.  And breastfeeding is a great health gift we can give to our new baby and to ourselves!