Published September 14th, 2012
It’s every mother’s dream to welcome their newborn into the world, hold them, kiss them, bathe them, watch them grow. However, when it comes to breastfeeding, for whatever reason, the overwhelming joy isn’t always initially there. Some mom’s are scared, nervous and don’t know a whole lot about the process. Fear no more – here is everything a new mom needs and should know about breastfeeding.
Don’t let stress overwhelm or cause you to panic when realizing that it is your milk that you are producing that is ultimately going to allow your baby to grow. (No stress, right?) Honestly, there is not a lot you need to do before preparing to breastfeed. Your body automatically does everything it needs to do to prepare (Easy, right?!). The best time to start feeding is right when you meet your baby! No time is better than the present, so might as well get up close and personal as soon as you can. Some feedings may take up to 40 minutes, no worries – it’s totally normal. Newborns generally eat every hour or 2 for the first week and it’s usually 8-12 feedings every 24 hours. Most babies breastfeed for the first year and then move onto regular milk. There are always rumors floating around when it comes to breastfeeding but one you should really not listen to is rubbing your nipples with towels or loofahs to “toughen them up.” Your nipples are supposed to be soft and comfy – as they already are – so they can better fit into your baby’s mouth.
There are many ways to hold your baby when breastfeeding and no way is the right way. It comes down to what is most comfortable for you and the baby. Four positions that are often used are the Cradle hold, Cross-Cradle, Football Hold and the Side-Lying hold. The cradle hold is when the baby is placed against your abdomen so you’re belly-to-belly with the baby’s head resting in the crook of your elbow. Cross-cradle hold is pretty similar to the cradle hold except you support the baby with the opposite arm and the baby’s bottom rests near your elbow. Football hold is when you hold your baby at the side under your arm. You can either use a pillow or your leg to keep the baby level with your breast. If you choose side-lying, you both lie side by side facing one another.
While breastfeeding, it’s important to maintain a healthy nutrition filled diet. It is essential to eat perfectly to increase your energy and resistance to illness. Getting enough nutrients is more important than calories so start snacking more on veggies, fruits and whole grains. Mom’s should be eating 500 more calories than non breastfeeding mom’s, therefore taking in around 2,000-2,500 calories a day. Drinking alcohol is something that most pregnant mom’s have been missing for the last 9 months, and now that you are breastfeeding, you should still stay away. If you have one glass of wine at dinner, it safe to breastfeed 3 hours later as this is how long it takes for the alcohol to escape your body. A big No-No is crash dieting. A sudden large drop in your calorie intake can and will affect your milk supply so no major dieting! Keep in mind that breastfeeding is one of the best and easiest ways to lose weight.
The final and most important key to breastfeeding is the actual milk you are producing and what is actually in it. Breast milk contains the perfect combination of nutrients – over 100 of them! The milk also contains large amounts of antibodies which help the baby resist illness and improves their immune system as well. Hormones in your milk create a feeling of sleepiness and general well-being which is great for colicky or fussy babies. Always stay hydrated when breastfeeding too – water or juice is best right before you start and also before you begin pumping. Finally, breastfeeding is free! Formula is super expensive and breastfeeding also allows for bonding with your baby.
You should be a pro at breastfeeding now! Remember, stay calm, eat well and start bonding with your baby!