Breastfeeding Guide For First-Time Moms
Before you continue reading, let me say CONGRATULATIONS!
Congratulations because you are choosing to nourish your baby the best way possible. Why else are you here trying to figure out how to breastfeed if you have no plans of doing so, right? (Yeah, I am a very assuming living thing.) Because of that, you are one step away from becoming the “Best Mother in the Whole Solar System!”
We all know that breastfeeding can pose as a challenge to first-time moms. In fact, many have tried to take on this challenge and many have failed. Why? I do not know either.
But this literature guide aims to encourage first-time mothers to pursue breastfeeding through proper knowledge and by providing support. I hope by the end of this article, you will be equipped with the right knowledge so you end up at the I-Survived-The-Breastfeeding-Challenge team.
WHAT YOU MUST DO BEFORE GIVING BIRTH
Join training. Attend seminars. Go to local health centers in your barangay and ask what support they extend for new mothers. Read a lot. Ask around. You can never go wrong with equipping yourself with the right information. Learn (and use) all forms and types of galactagogues.
Psych yourself up.
Breastfeeding is a long, tough game. You know you can push through and win it, but first you need to psych yourself up. So what should you do?
Talk to yourself. Say, “I can do it! I can breastfeed my child!”, then act.
Unleash your inner eyes and visualize yourself holding and nursing your precious little one.
Look for lactation consultant names and numbers (in your area) even if you do not plan to meet with them yet. Meet with your pediatrician and tell him/her your plans before and after giving birth. You can be very specific about planning to breastfeed your child.
It would help to have all information handy because by the time you’re having issues, you may be too upset and/or frustrated to discuss and look for professionals who can help you.
Discuss and Connect.
Discuss with your OB Gyne and/or with your hospital your birth plans. Better yet, write them down. Do you want your baby to be roomed-in with you right away after giving birth so you can feed on demand? Do you want to delay clamping? What are your requests?
Enlist your husband, too. Make him part not only of the “making” but most importantly in “delivering” the baby. He should be there when you meet with the doctor, pediatrician, and lactation consultant because he can be a very good problem-solver. After giving birth, there is a big chance that your brain will fail to correctly process information, at least you will have your knight in shining armor to the rescue! Take advantage of your other half, you so much deserve a minion. *wink*
WHAT YOU HAVE TO KNOW AFTER GIVING BIRTH
You can breastfeed the moment you hold your newborn in the delivery room.
Breastfeeding an hour or two after giving birth helps your uterus to contract and provides that valuable colostrum, a very special liquid (that is not available in any formula milk) that helps in protecting your baby against infection. If you have a premature baby or if you had a c-section, you may not be able to nurse right away, but you should start pumping your milk or request for milk donation if necessary. Your baby will receive this milk through a tube, a cup, or a bottle until she’s strong enough to nurse.
Wake up that sleepy head.
Newborns will often fall asleep while breastfeeding. As much as we want to let that sleepy head to snooze, we must wake him up by tickling his feet, rubbing his back or chin, taking off some of his clothing, or damping a wet cloth to his body. Newborns must feed every 1-3 hours.
The first few weeks can be REALLY hard. Huh, it’s painful!
If I will talk from experience, I would say that the first few days of my breastfeeding journey was horrible. I had to cry in between feeding. It hurts so much that I hated every moment of it. I do not know if I got used to the pain or if I (or maybe it was Skye who) learned the proper latching techniques.
Well, actually it shouldn’t hurt. But nobody told me that. Even my mother said it is normal. The pain that made me cringe my toes was a usual part of breastfeeding that I should be familiar with, she said. She even suggested that I switch Skye to bottle. I did not heed her recommendation because I thought I would be a terrible mother if I gave up so soon, and so I pushed on. Now, Skye is turning 3 years old and still nursing!
Here’s my unsolicited advice – if you can make it through the first two weeks, you would be able to make it throughout!
Nursing must not be painful. If you feel pain whenever your baby latches, there is something wrong – the baby may not be latching properly or you may not have the right position. Your baby’s mouth should cover a larger part of the areola and not just the nipple. There are lots of video tutorials in YouTube about proper latching and various positions, watch them. You can also request for a lactation consultant to check how your baby latches on or watch other breastfeeding mothers how they do it.
You will think you are not capable of producing milk.
I get lots of messages from first-time mothers saying they are tempted to switch to formula because their breast is not producing milk. Why are we, mothers, so negative? Our God did not create us with two breasts for nothing. Come on, trust yourself!
If you think you have no milk coming out, then prepare for it to come out – the power of positive thinking will bring you far. Sometimes a mother’s milk may take longer than a few days to come out and that is normal. Mine took 4 days before I saw that gold liquid coming out from my tits. Even if I think Skye was not getting any milk from me, I just let her suck.
In order to stimulate milk production, breastfeed often even if you think you baby is not getting any. Skin-to-skin contact also helps.
Also, it is important to note that your baby’s tummy is very tiny (just like a size of a calamansi), so your baby only needs a small amount of milk. As the baby grows, so does the tummy. Your body will then produce more milk to meet your baby’s needs.
Your baby will lose weight, first few days after birth – THAT’S OKAY.
I know several mothers who switched to formula because their babies lost some weights days after birth. I seriously hope pediatricians will explain to them that this issue is normal and must not be a cause for panic.
“It is expected that newborns will lose some weight in the first 5-7 days of life. A 5% weight loss is considered normal for a formula-fed newborn. A 7-10% loss is considered normal for breastfed babies. Most babies should regain this lost weight by days 10-14 of life.” – American Pregnancy Association
You have to increase your milk supply.
- By staying hydrated – drink lots of water, soup, and fruit juice in order to boost your milk supply. That’s imperative.
- By breastfeeding according to demand – ditch the schedule. Breastfeeding is a basic supply-and-demand activity. Feed your baby whenever early signs of hunger shows (increased alertness, mouthing, or rooting around for your breast). Do not wait for the baby to cry before nursing because crying is a late sign of hunger.
Did you know that the more you nurse, the more milk your body will produce? Because the baby’s tiny body will signal your body to increase the milk production in order to meet his nutritional needs. Amazing isn’t it? That’s how nature works. You can also pump while nursing to increase your stash!
Your baby will poop seedy rainbows!
The seed-like thing in your baby’s poop is said to be leftover hind milk. That means your baby is well-fed! Applause!
If your baby’s poop comes in different colors (hallelujah!), celebrate! I’m kidding! During our breastfeeding peer counselor training I have learned that anything in the yellow, brown, or green hues of poop is not a problem.
Your baby might not poop for days!
So first they will poop rainbows and that’s okay. But not pooping for days? Is that okay, too?
After one month, breastfed babies may go up to 10 days without pooping! Cool, yeah? Once I read a comment in Breastfeeding Pinay saying her baby hasn’t pooped for 28 days! Beat that! 28 freakin’ days. Observe your bub. If the little one is not showing any signs of fuzziness or lethargy even if the pumpkin hasn’t pooped for days, then the baby must be doing fine. The reason why breastfed babies can go days without pooping is because your breastmilk is very nutritious and that it is being absorbed completely by the baby’s body. Nothing, as in nada, goes to waste.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO TO ENSURE BREASTFEEDING SUCCESS
No other nipples.
Before you introduce artificial nipples, make sure your breastfeeding relationship has already been well-established. This is to avoid nipple confusion. The use of pacifiers can also negatively affect oral health and suppress hunger cues.
If you really have to introduce other nipples, wait for at least 4-6 months.
Don’t worry if your baby looks tiny.
Even if your doctor says your baby’s weight and height is not in the chart, do not give up breastfeeding just yet. Try to look for a breastfeeding-advocate doctor and seek for a second opinion before introducing formula. It won’t hurt doing so.
Skye is on the lean side but she is active, smiling a lot, smart, her linear growth and head circumference as well as her neurological development are notably okay so I don’t give a fuss if her weight and height is outside the preferred chart (which actually is a chart used for formula-fed babies). I look and observe my baby not the scale.
Practice makes perfect.
You will encounter lots of problems in your breastfeeding journey and the only way to deal with those problems and answer all your questions is … ta-duh! – MORE NURSING SESSIONS!
Go ahead and nurse in public.
It is everything but a shameful act. There is no need to shy away from the crowd because you have to feed your child. Breastfeeding is a beautiful reflection of pure love. Flaunt it! Be confident and proud of yourself. You are not doing anything wrong.
Think that you can, and you will. Whatever you do, whatever you hear, wherever you go, whomever you talk to, try not to become confused and discouraged. Trust yourself, be patient, and practice; it will eventually become easier for both you and your baby.
If you are too tired to continue, do not quit just yet. Delay quitting to at least 6 to 8 weeks. If after that period you still think it’s not working for you and your precious little one, then go switch to formula. At least you tried, and that’s more than enough. Giving a bottle is not the end of the world. Do not let anyone make you feel bad about your choice.
- Breastfeeding Pinays Facebook Page – Breastfeeding help and support in the Philippines.
- BFP Breastfeeding Counselors – Group of breastfeeding counselors trained under Breastfeeding Pinays.
- La Leche League International
- International Lactation Consultant Association
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