There are many reasons why new moms choose to breastfeed their baby. Increasing baby's immunity, getting back into pre-baby shape quicker and because human milk is easier to digest than formula are often among the positive points. However, even with so many benefits, breastfeeding can be difficult and often requires a strong combination of practice and patience to be successful. Here are some tips to get off to a good start.
Get help in the beginning: Reading about breastfeeding and doing it are two different things. Getting a good start is important so ask the lactation consultant or maternity nurse at your hospital to help you the first few times. They can ensure that you are holding and supporting the baby properly and that he or she is latching on properly.
Move at baby's pace: Newborns will breastfeed every 2 to 3 hours for the first few weeks around the clock. Nurse your baby from the first breast until it is soft, burp the baby and offer the second breast. If the baby latches on, he or she is still hungry. If not, simply start the next feeding from the second breast. It may take 15 to 20 minutes to drain one breast, so be patient and let baby tell you we he or she is done.
Wait to use a pacifier: Some babies take to a pacifier right away and are at their happiest when sucking on something. However, if you give your baby a pacifier too soon, it can interfere with breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediactrics recommends waiting until breastfeeding is well-established at about 1 month old to begin offering baby a pacifier.
Remember to take care of your nipples: It is good to let any milk left on your breast dry naturally. Keeping your nipples dry will prevent infection and discomfort. If your breasts leak milk between feedings, change your bra pads frequently. Do not wash your nipples with soap or shampoos when you bathe. If you experience nipple pain from dry or cracked nipples, apply a lanolin cream directly after every feeding until they are healed.
Eat a healthy diet: It is important to eat a healthy diet when breastfeeding. This means many of the same lifestyle and food choices as when you were pregnant. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables should be a part of your daily diet and in most cases you should continue to take your prenatal vitamin. It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking water, juice and milk. Caffeine should be limited and if you have an alcoholic drink, wait two hours to breastfeed. Check labels and talk to your doctor about breastfeeding while on medications and don't smoke while breastfeeding.
If you are still struggling, having pain during each feeding or your baby is not gaining enough weight, contact a lactation specialist or your doctor for more help. Sometimes it just takes time for you and baby to fall into the right rhythm and a little help and support along the way makes it all the better.
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