Breastfeeding is an important decision for many soon-to-be moms. Right from the onset of pregnancy, most of them look forward to the day when they can successfully feed their little angels. We say ‘successfully’ because we all know that, at times, some new moms are not able to breastfeed their babies for long or are unable to breastfeed at all. Unless there are medical or health/hormonal reasons, you can have a genuine shot at breastfeeding successfully if you follow these 5 steps as soon as you give birth to your baby:
1. Breastfeed As Soon As Possible After Delivery
Agreed you may be tired after long hours of labor or an excruciating C-section. Yet, you need to realize that in his/her first hour of life, your baby will adapt to the first thing that he/she gets in the mouth. Ideally, your baby will be put on your upper abdomen within seconds of delivery. During this skin-to-skin contact with the mother, the newborn can instinctively try to latch on to the mother’s breast. Therefore, you’ll be at an advantage if you try and breastfeed your baby in an hour or so following delivery (1).
If there is a delay due to complications in your delivery, you can still inform the doctors and nurses attending to you that you wish to breastfeed your baby as soon as you have him/her with you again.
2. Seek Out A Lactation Consultant
A lactation consultant is an expert who’ll guide you through the technicalities of breastfeeding like the right way of latching. You may be told that you can do without one. Yes, but an expert opinion does help in the long run. So, consider doing this during your pregnancy. Otherwise, it might be a bit difficult for you to do so with a hungry infant in tow.
3. Check Your Baby’s Tongue For A Tongue-Tie
At times, babies can be born with ankyloglossia or tongue-tie, where a thick band of tissue (lingual frenulum) attaches the tip of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. This restricts the movement of the babies tongue, causing eating and swallowing difficulties (2). Most doctors do this check for the baby. However, you can also take the initiative and get your baby checked for a tongue-tie. If your baby doesn’t have it, that’s one less hurdle in your path of successful breastfeeding.
4. Feed Your Baby On Demand
What do we do when we are really, really hungry? We devour whatever is given to us. The same works for babies too. When babies are hungry and demand food, they’ll make an extra effort to get it. Take advantage of this by helping your baby latch on better and suckle more. The first few weeks after birth are especially crucial to continue with the demand-supply law to help establish a good supply of your milk. So, do not try to regulate or schedule your baby’s feeding sessions.
5. Do Not Put Anything Else In The Mouth For The Next 3 Weeks
As a new mother, it’s natural for you to worry about your milk supply. To keep a check on the quantity of your milk, you might be tempted to pump your breasts and feed your milk through the bottle. But in doing so, you’ll get your baby out of the habit of sucking on your breasts. Another flip side is that a pump may not be as effective in extracting your milk compared to your baby’s natural reflex of sucking. The baby’s sucking action provides proper stimulation to the breast that might be essential for good production of milk (3).
Also, avoid giving a pacifier to your baby as this can hinder with the demand-supply rule that you’re following. The pacifier will delay the time between demand and supply. It might also leave your baby too tired to suckle on to your breasts later.
Following these tips will come in handy when you eventually start breastfeeding. If you still face issues, do not hesitate to discuss this with your doctor or the lactation expert. They’ll guide you and correct you if you are doing it wrong. And most importantly, do not panic and give up assuming that your baby is hungry. Come what may, stick to it and you’ll surely achieve your goal of successfully breastfeeding your baby!