The decision to breastfeed your baby brings amazing benefits to you both. First, it’s great nourishment for the baby that also provides an important boost to their developing immune system. Second, it’s a wonderful opportunity to bond with baby and share a unique closeness. Third, it’s not as easy as it might seem. Breastfeeding is a skill that takes time to master. Here are some helpful tips for first-time breastfeeding moms.
#1 Do your research
Before the baby even arrives, take some time to do a little research about breastfeeding. Look for a class offered through your local hospital or find a local breastfeeding group. Ask for educational materials and ask questions about the practical aspects of nursing, from pumping to storing milk, proper nutrition for nursing moms and the benefits of breastfeeding. Get a basic idea of the fundamentals of nursing, including proper latch, positioning, milk production, etc., but realize that learning to actually nurse your baby is an experiential proposition that you will not fully understand until you actually do it.
#2 Stock up on essentials
Never thought you’d be buying nipple cream or nursing pads? Get them before baby arrives so you’ll have them. If you’re anticipating needing to pump milk, do your research and get your pump. Become familiar with the features and how it works. If you absolutely don’t believe you’ll ever pump, purchase a hand pump because if your breasts become engorged with more milk than your baby can use in a timely manner, you will want a way to alleviate that discomfort – even if you just pump the milk and don’t feed it to the baby. Remember, though, it’s great for Dad to get time feeding the baby as well, so a bottle of breast milk on occasion will be good for everyone. Stock up on a few storage bottles, too.
#3 It’s all in the Latch
Every lactation specialist will tell you that how the baby latches onto your breast is the single most important indicator of breastfeeding success. If your baby doesn’t latch properly, your milk may not let down and before long your nipples will be agonizingly tender – to the point of bleeding. Work hard on the latch, especially those first few days, and always check to see that your baby is properly latched on throughout your feeding. Even with a great latch, your nipples will be tender when you’re first starting out! Get in the habit of applying generous amounts of nipple cream after every feeding. This will reduce cracking and keep your nipples supple for baby.
#4 When the baby arrives, relax
It seems like once the baby arrives, there’s this immediate pressure to “get it right” with nursing. Remember, this is a learning process for both you and baby. While most babies will innately know to nurse, that doesn’t mean they will latch properly or be good at nursing in the beginning. You will learn together and it will take a while before you have the confidence to know everything’s going well.