Thursday, July 9, 2015

Breastfeeding Your Newborn

One day old Natalie enjoying some cuddle time with mommy :)

     If you’re new to the world of breastfeeding – welcome to the club! It’s a place where hardship, struggle, pain, sacrifice, good health, reward, joy and happiness are all mixed up together in one bunch. If you’re not quite there yet but will be soon, then do read on to get some tips and tricks in time for the arrival of your baby.

    I still remember being a first time mom with Audrey. Breastfeeding was something I welcomed with open arms. In fact, in the operating room where I had a nerve wracking C-section experience, the only thing that calmed me down was the presence of my newborn infant who was handed to me to feed for the first time. I was groggy but I remember that time oh so clearly. My reward has arrived and instead of me giving her the warmth and reassurance of my presence and loving arms, it was she who put me at peace. I felt secure amidst the chaos of unwelcome anesthetics that was shot up through my spine, with a dose of more meds to put me to sleep during the procedure and the anxiety of not being able to breathe properly. But having my baby in my arms to breastfeed at that moment was just a wonderful feeling. And as soon as she had to go, I felt anxious again. I couldn’t wait to see and hold her once more.

     Hmm, that was a little bit dramatic huh? Hehe! Well, it’s just proof that the presence of your little one and her closeness will bring a calming and relaxing feeling to you, and there are studies that back this up. Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin that not only promotes bonding but relaxes both mom and baby. So I highly recommend that you give this a try. And not just try, but persevere.

     My first day at breastfeeding was quite a good experience. The nurses at the hospital huggery were very helpful and able to teach me the proper feeding techniques. I happily obliged at their instructions and noted their tips. However, by the second day, I already experienced sore nipples and there was a bit of bleeding as well. This forced me to ask for some breastmilk from my sister who currently had a six month old baby, so I could take a break from time to time. My husband was instructed to cup feed Audrey and he did an awesome job. I also applied Lansinoh (lanolin cream) to my nipples religiously to help them heal and avoid cracks. Needless to say, I pressed on and continued breastfeeding even with all the hiccups along the way.

With newborn Audrey :)

Here are some tips that helped me during my first time at breastfeeding:

  1. Preparing for breastfeeding your newborn starts during pregnancy. By the 7th month, start applying lanolin cream on your nipples to avoid soreness and cracks. I did this and it was a big help even though I did have soreness in the first few days, but at least my nipples didn’t crack (ouch!). I also started drinking malunggay or moringa supplements to help with milk production on my 9th month. I continued to drink them until my milk was overflowing (and lessened, or sometimes stopped when there was just too much to avoid engorgement).
  1. Feed on demand. Feed your newborn infant on demand, even though it seems that you have no milk yet – the colostrum isn’t like regular breastmilk but it’s already there and ready for baby as soon as she comes out (try squeezing your nipple and you will see light yellowish thick liquid coming out). Feeding on demand will help establish the breastmilk which should come in within 3 days, or sometimes 4 if you had a C-section.
  1. Pay attention to your baby’s cues. Don’t wait until your baby’s crying and can be heard all the way across the hall. When she’s already crying like crazy, this means that she’s very very hungry. Feed her before this happens. Watch out for the rooting reflex (place your finger on the side of baby’s mouth and if she follows with an open mouth, she definitely wants to eat!). If baby is moving her head from side to side, as if looking for something (and momma’s not beside her), chances are she’s looking for the breast. When baby starts to put her hands in her mouth, this also means that it’s time to feed her already.
  1. Make sure baby’s latch is correct. When about to feed, baby’s mouth should be wide open, with tongue down and both lips turned out (think fish lips). Try to encourage her to open her mouth by offering the nipple and when she does, put the areola in (not just the tip of the nipple or you’ll get sore easily and baby can’t get enough milk). Feeding shouldn’t hurt but you should feel the suction or latch and see baby’s cheeks moving as she drinks. If it hurts or the latch feels wrong or there’s dimpling on baby’s cheeks (which shouldn’t be the case if latch is correct), just simply insert your small finger on the side of the baby’s mouth so the suction breaks, and start over.
  1. Don’t be shy with baby. Grab as much of the areola (the area around the nipple) as you can and toss it into baby’s mouth with fingers underneath and thumb pressing on top when you feed her. I learned this with the help of the hospital nurses where I gave birth. At first I was semi-shocked when the nurse demonstrated it (using my breast of course! :P) haha! I didn’t know I should grab my breast without hesitation and shove it inside Audrey’s mouth for a successful feeding experience! Haha! It really works!
  1. Be mindful of feeding times. You usually have to feed baby every 1.5-3 hrs, and in my case it was 2 – so be mindful of the time because this changes along the way (especially during growth spurts!). Keep a notebook to log in feeding times if you can and count the time when you began to feed and count from there (if you fed her at 9am, next feeding should be by 11am if you feed every 2 hrs).

This notebook given by a friend was so helpful when I was logging
Audrey's feeding times and other baby activities
 like sleeping, peeing and pooping! :D It allowed me to see if she 

was eating enough, peeing enough and pooping enough!

  1. Feed from both breasts. Make sure to feed from both breasts everytime baby eats. Spend at least 15-20 mins on each breast and start with the last breast you fed from during your next feeding. Log this in your notebook if you can – I did because as a first time mom lacking sleep, I would tend to forget.
  1. Nudge your baby if she sleeps during feeding. I can’t really blame newborn infants when they start drifting off to sleep only a couple of minutes after nuzzling on mama’s breast. After all, it’s the comfiest place to be after coming out of the tummy. But when baby hasn’t fed much, you need to encourage her to drink again by tickling her under her chin or jaw. This sort of wakes her up enough to remind her that her primary purpose at the breast is to feed (and not just fall asleep!).
  1. Entice your baby to feed if necessary. If baby is more interested in sleeping and finding comfort at your breasts than feeding, another “come on” for her is to make her smell the milk. Squeeze some of the colostrum out of the nipple and have baby smell it or taste it. This should give her an appetite and she’ll remember to drink!
  1.  Don’t forget to burp the baby. After feeding your baby from each breast, try to burp her – although sometimes they burp anyway when being moved around from one breast to another. But when feeding from both breasts are done, this is definitely something you should remember to do to prevent spit ups and relieve baby from any air she may have swallowed up while feeding. Otherwise, baby can get fussy because of gassiness.
  1.  Make sure breastfeeding positions are correct. The cradle hold, reverse cradle hold, football or clutch hold, and side lying position are ways to breastfeed your baby. Moms who have had a C-section may find it easiest to do the cradle hold or football hold while baby is on a nursing pillow to help support baby’s weight. With Audrey, I was breastfeeding sitting up practically for a whole month because of the wound. With Natalie, my second baby and delivered via VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), breastfeeding was easier – I could do any of the above positions including the side lying position (my favorite actually, because I get to rest better while she feeds) with so much more ease. You can check out breastfeeding positions here
  1.  If you need to cup feed. New moms may end up with sore nipples whether from getting used to breastfeeding for the first time or possibly having baby latch on incorrectly. If so, sometimes cup feeding is recommended as this causes less nipple confusion than feeding from the bottle. This happened to me with Audrey and my husband was tasked to cup feed her because having someone else, other than mom, give her the cup will make her less confused as to why she can’t feed from the breast when mom is just in the same room. You can give about 2-15ml to your baby on the first day and you can increase to 20-30ml by the 2nd and 3rd day.
  1.  If there is some blood in your milk. This doesn’t sound so good, I know, but it happens, especially to first time moms. Sometimes blood comes out as you press the milk out or you can even notice this from your baby’s spit ups (brownish in color when mixed with breastmilk). However, don’t worry! This is actually quite harmless (as long as it’s not gushing out ok :o). This happened to me with Audrey and I asked my mommy friends if it’s ok to just feed her anyway and apparently it was. Eventually the bleeding stopped and Audrey was all good!
  1.  Do not use a breast pump for the first month. Avoid pumping your milk out until after a month which is when the milk flow should already be established. This is quite a difficult order but is helpful in the long run. Pumping sort of messes up your milk supply and may cause engorgement (this may be an option though if you decide to pump milk all the way and feed from the bottle instead of the breast, but trust me, you will want to feed baby directly if you can). What you can do to relieve yourself of excess milk, is to hand express. This can be done through massaging your breasts in a circular motion all throughout and pushing the milk out all the way up to the areola (not just the breast skin).
15. Make skin contact with baby often. Skin contact not only relaxes your baby and gives her warmth, it also encourages her to feed. She also sleeps better when she’s near mom and hears her heartbeat, just like in the womb. Hold her often and cuddle as much as you can – you will be glad you did! J

        For more breastfeeding tips, check out my post on Breastfeeding Challenges.

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