Breastfeeding is an emotional and bonding time for both the mother and baby. It is not entirely easy for newbie moms and their babies which mostly doesn’t come naturally at first.
Breastfeeding can take up to 40 minutes, especially in the early months, it will do a great good for both mother and child to pick a cozy spot for nursing in a position that won't leave your arms and back sore.
First time you hold your baby in the delivery room is a great time to start breastfeeding. At this time, the body produces small amounts of a special milk called colostrum that will help protect your baby from infection.
It works well to support the back of your baby's head with your hand, but the position you choose really depends on what's comfortable for you. Nursing pillow and foot stool have proved useful in getting a comfortable position. When your baby latches on your nipple, her mouth should cover just both the nipple and the areola (the darker part surrounding it) as much as possible.
To ensure you are producing good quality and quantity of milk, eat a balanced diet, drink enough fluid to keep hydrated and reduce caffeine intake. Remember what you eat is what you give your baby. It is important to always feed your baby on demand rather than random timing.
Here are the most common breastfeeding-related problems and how you can avoid them:
Sore and cracked nipples
To avoid this, 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.
For overly full breasts or blocked milk duct, put 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 include 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 anti-fungal 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.
References: whattoexpect.com, babycenter.com, healthywomen.org