Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms
September 9, 2015
We hope you've decided to at least try breastfeeding. Even if you only nurse your baby for a few days or weeks, that early milk, called colostrum, provides an important source of antibodies to protect against disease as Baby's own immune system develops during the first year.
But did you know that breastfeeding benefits you, too?
Breastfeeding is a learned process; none of us (not even Baby) are born knowing how to do it. To improve your chance of success:
Common Breastfeeding Challenges
Here are the most common breastfeeding-related problems and how you can avoid them:
Sore and cracked nipples
Check the position of the baby when she latches on; smooth lanolin over your nipples after each nursing session; and let your nipples air dry after each nursing session. Also, alternate which breast you start on for each session. Put a safety pin or plastic bracelet on your wrist on the side of your bra that was just used to help you remember. And limit nursing to 5 to 10 minutes on each side initially until your nipples toughen up (just a few days). You should also not hear any clicking or sucking sound. If you do, the baby isn't positioned right. Bring Baby closer to you, and hold his head firmly so his mouth covers as much of the areola as possible.
Engorgement (overly full breasts) or blocked milk duct
Warm compresses, letting warm water run over your breasts in the shower, or laying cabbage leaves on your breasts can help relieve some of the pressure. You can also try pumping some milk between feedings.
Mastitis or breast infection
If you feel like you have the flu and one breast is red, hot and sore, you probably have mastitis. You'll likely need an antibiotic to clear up the infection. In the meantime, keep nursing and/or pumping on that side as much as you can, even though it hurts. To prevent mastitis, make sure you empty your breasts regularly. If you do take antibiotics, add a probiotic (good bacteria such as lactobacillus) supplement, or eat a container of live culture yogurt every day, to help prevent the next complication: thrush.
Thrush is a fungal infection that can form on the breast and be passed between your breast and the baby's mouth. Overly moist breasts, sore or cracked nipples, following a diet high in sugar or yeasty foods or taking antibiotics, birth control pills or steroids can all throw your body's natural yeast levels out of control and lead to thrush. Symptoms are very sore nipples, achy or painful breasts or pink, flaky, shiny, itchy or cracked nipples.
Your baby may have little white spots in her mouth, or a diaper rash that won't heal. You will need to treat both your breasts and the baby's mouth with a prescription antifungal or with the over-the-counter antifungal gentian violet. To prevent thrush, air-dry your nipples, use nipple pads in your bra, wear a clean bra every day, and reduce the amount of sugar and yeasty products in your diet.
Increasing Milk Supply
Breastfeeding is a basic supply-and-demand activity. The more you nurse, the more milk your body makes. So when your baby goes through a growth spurt and seems to be nursing all the time, keep in mind she's signaling your body to up the milk production for her new nutritional needs.
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