Making the decision to breastfeed is an important choice for mothers to make. There are many advantages to mother and baby, such as facilitating bonding between mom and baby and decreasing the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Breastfeeding also helps protect baby from infection and allergies. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, the American Academy of Pediatricians and the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses all recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. Despite the advantages to breastfeeding, for many women, breastfeeding can be challenging. Below are some tips to help women successfully breastfeed.
1. Put baby to the breast right away. Skin to skin contact with baby helps regulate baby's temperature but also helps start the breastfeeding process. Do not worry if you do not know what to do as this is comforting for both you and baby.
2. Make sure baby is latched properly: Appropriate latching is the key to successful breastfeeding. Proper latching helps minimize pain with breastfeeding. Postpartum nurses and lactation nurses can help in determining if baby has an appropriate latch and are frequently able to assist with troubleshooting.
3. Get comfortable: get in a comfortable position for breastfeeding with good lumbar support. Breastfeeding pillows or even regular pillows can help in getting you and baby in the proper position. There are different ways to hold baby when breastfeeding including the cradle, the cross-cradle and football holds. Your lactation nurse can help you with finding a position that works well for you
4. Drink plenty of water: Remember to stay hydrated. The more fluids you drink, the better your breast milk supply may be.
5. Eat healthy and continue your prenatal vitamin: What you eat, can also determine the nutrition content of your breast milk. Make sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet, with fruits, vegetables, lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Continue to take your prenatal vitamin to help maintain your iron levels.
6. Breastfeed on demand or every 2 hours: The more you breastfeed, the more breast milk your body will produce. Keep a log of your feeding times. If possible, breastfeed for at least 15 minutes on each breast.
7. Remember to take a break: breastfeeding can both be tiring and difficult. Be sure to take some time to engage in self-care. Having a breast pump and pumping milk for storage can allow family members participate in caring for baby and give you some personal time.
You may encounter other problems while on this journey. Your medical provider can assist you with overcoming some of the hurdles. While we promote breastfeeding, we recognize not all breastfeeding problems can be overcome. Ensuring baby is well fed and healthy is important. Sometimes, this may require supplementing with formula. Your pediatrician in the hospital or at home will let you know if supplementation is necessary.