Although breastfeeding is a natural process offering health benefits to both mother and baby, it certainly can come with its difficulties. There are several different areas where these difficulties might show up: getting your baby to latch on, ensuring she/he is getting enough milk, finding the right position that’s comfortable for both parties, etc. Here are the breastfeeding basics that every mother should know.
Positioning Your Breastfeeding Baby
It’s likely that you won’t be a master at breastfeeding the first time, even the first several times you try. Don’t get discouraged! Instead, here are a few tips on how to position your baby and get them to latch on:
Place your baby’s head in the crook of your right arm (if you’re nursing from your right breast), so that your forearm is supporting the rest of the baby’s body. Hold your breast and squeeze so that the nipple points toward the baby’s mouth.
For this type of hold, tuck your baby’s legs under your arm on the same side as the breast you are feeding him or her on. Use that arm to hold your baby and the other hand to hold your breast to help your baby find your nipple.
Lay back on either a couch or bed with a pillow propping up your upper back, neck, and head. Place your baby tummy down so that he or she is lying vertically on your chest with their mouth just below your nipple.
Once again lying on either a couch or bed, prop a pillow underneath your head. Your baby should face you with his or her head level with your nipple.
If you’re nursing from the right breast, hold your baby’s head with your left hand and body with your left arm so that he or she is held across your body.
How to know if your baby is getting enough milk
We recommend solely breastfeeding for at least 6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics infers that a new baby needs to be fed every one and a half to three hours. The first week after your baby’s birth he or she should be gaining about an ounce a day.
The way you are able to tell if your baby is getting enough food is by how many diapers you have to change. You should see about 5 to 6 wet diapers a day until your baby is 6 months old. You can also tell by your baby’s mood after being fed; if he or she seems full and content, that is a likely sign that they are getting enough milk.
It is important that as a breastfeeding mother you maintain a balanced diet and continue to take prenatal vitamins to help keep both yourself and your child healthy during the breastfeeding process. Breastfeeding nourishes your baby and strengthens their immune system.
You should be drinking six to eight glasses of fluids (water, juice, milk) every day to produce enough milk to stay hydrated.
You also may find that you need a little more food in your system to keep up the energy for breastfeeding, about 400 to 500 additional calories a day should be all you need. Opt for nutrient-rich foods when it comes to seeking these additional calories. You should also choose protein-rich foods like lean meat, eggs, dairy, and beans as these will help to fuel your milk production. Eating a variety of foods can actually change the flavor of your breast milk and help your baby to accept solid foods easier when the time comes.
What foods should a breastfeeding mom not eat?
The foods that you should be avoiding while breastfeeding are very similar to the foods you should not eat while pregnant. You should be especially cautious of the following:
- Alcohol: No amount of alcohol in breastmilk is safe or healthy for a baby. If you do choose to drink, make sure to wait at least two to three hours before breastfeeding your baby.
- Caffeine: Caffeine in your breast milk can interfere with yours and your baby’s sleep. Avoid drinking more than two or three cups of caffeinated drinks a day.
- Seafood: You should avoid eating seafood as excessive amounts of mercury in your breast milk can put your baby’s developing nervous system at risk.