Breastfeeding basics

Today’s post is from Nancy Hurst, director of Women’s Support Services at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, who will be discussing #Breastfeeding101 with us on Twitter on September 28, 2017 at 1pm EST / 12pm CST.

Here is a brief preview of the breastfeeding insight she will be providing in our #Breastfeeding101 chat.

As a board certified lactation consultant at Texas Children’s Hospital, I have heard it all! No breastfeeding experience looks the same and moms, whether it’s their first or last child, generally have many questions. Here is a look at what to expect:

The first few hours:

It’s important for new moms, when they are able, to attempt breastfeeding as quickly as possible after their baby is born. It is in this first round of feeding that babies get colostrum, a valuable, immune-boosting fluid.

While most babies are eager to latch onto their mother’s nipple, some infants need a little help the first few times. Moms, if your baby isn’t latching right away, don’t worry! It will happen.

You can help encourage latching by giving your newborn the best opportunity with extended skin-to-skin contact. This contact helps your baby relax and, eventually, you will begin to see signs that he or she is ready to feed. These signs can include: light fussing, increased alertness or changes in facial expression, rooting (opening their mouth and searching to suck on contact).

Positioning the baby is also key. Mothers should make sure to hold the baby in a position that has them facing your breast with your nipple near their mouth. Once you see a wide, open mouth, pull your baby in close and they are likely to latch on.

The first few days:

In the first few days, many moms may wonder if their baby is getting enough milk.

Remember the old saying, “What goes in, must come out?” The easiest way to figure out if your newborn is getting enough milk is to keep count of their wet and poopy diapers each day. If you have a smartphone, there are many apps that can help track this.

In the first few days of life, the number of diapers should equal about how many days old your baby is. Then, by the end of the first week, moms can expect at least six wet diapers and several poopy ones a day that are yellow and seedy.

Some moms may find themselves unable to breastfeed. In these cases, I cannot stress enough how valuable your support team is! This includes your obstetrician, pediatrician, lactation consultant, hospital staff, and your friends and family.

If a mom finds herself unable to breastfeed for any reason, there are now more resources than ever to still provide breastmilk to babies, such as pasteurized donor milk from a milk bank.

My one note of caution for moms turning to donor breast milk is to use only donor milk. Without thorough screenings of both the donor mother and the milk, you may be exposing your newborn to risks such as bacteria or viruses.

The first few weeks:

After the first few weeks, moms may begin to plan their return to work – this is where pumping comes in!

I routinely recommend that mothers wait to introduce a bottle for four to six weeks until breastfeeding is well established. Ideally, moms would have another person introduce the bottle to get baby used to food coming from someone else.

In order to get the best results, moms should aim to start pumping right after the first morning feeding.

Finally, I recommend the following three pieces of advice to breastfeeding moms:

  1. Be informed. Learn about the importance of establishing milk production and the health benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and mother.
  2. Build your support network. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from any and all resources available to you.
  3. Have confidence in yourself and your body! Use this time to enjoy this special relationship with your baby. Remember that it is not unusual to feel some discomfort. You can always turn to your lactation consultant for advice and to answer your questions.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

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