Much has been spoken about the importance of breastfeeding a child. However, for an inexperienced/new mother, breastfeeding can be painful and tiring. Constant nursing can lead to swollen, cracked and sore nipples not to mention the toll it can take on one’s back. However, breastfeeding need not be a chore. It can be made into a fulfilling and satisfactory experience provided one follows these 8 easy ways to make breastfeeding easier.
1. Babies breastfeed-mother’s don’t
It is the simple law of nature- a baby knows how to breastfeed-the information is hard wired and imprinted on its DNA. So let your baby decide. A newborn of an animal when placed in direct contact with its mother automatically seeks the mother’s breast. The same is true with human babies. There are releasing stimuli that impact the baby’s feeding pattern. So place the baby skin to skin vertically between your breasts. The baby will learn to understand its cues for hunger and seek the nipples.
2. Sit comfortably
You can sit up in bed, on a rocking chair or even lie naked in a tub filled with hot water when nursing. You can also lie on your back or side depending on your baby’s ability to nurse. Prop some pillows up to support your back when possible. You can also use donut shaped pillows to relieve pressure on your groin muscles in case you have had a complicated delivery. This is one of the easy ways to make breastfeeding easier.
3. Relax your muscles
A new mother tends to unknowingly contract and tense her body up. So, consciously relax all your muscles while holding the baby gently. With practice you will get better. Take deep breaths and take comfort in the fact that you are doing a world of good to your baby. As you relax more and more, your body will stimulate the right hormones that can increase your milk supply.
4. Position your baby comfortably
You can place a pillow under you baby initially. Hold it at the level of your breast. Use your hand to form a U around your nipple’s areola. Your thumb should be in line with the baby’s nose. Tilt the baby’s head backwards so it can suckle comfortably. Make sure you and your baby both are comfortable to make this a success.
5. Help the baby latch
In the beginning, the baby may not be able to pull the nipple especially when they are not engorged fully. But you must persist so that the baby will pull it out with its lips. You might feel a bit of a pinch first –but move the baby closer so that its chin and jaw move into your breast. Allow the baby’s lower lips to take in large part of your breast-don’t worry this action will be instinctive. Do not worry about the baby being unable to breathe- its nostrils will open wider and it would be comfortable.
6. Know the signs of a good latch
As a mother you will know if your baby is comfortable or not. Your baby will not have to move its head or neck too much. Its mouth will also be filled with your breast. Its ears might wriggle a bit and you will hear it swallow. Its lips will be turned outwards and not in. These are the signs that will show that your baby is suckling properly.
7. Know if your baby is getting enough milk
A well fed baby is a happy baby-so continue nursing as many times s/he demands. Your baby might still lose some weight in the beginning but that is still okay. Your supply of milk will increase after 24-72 hours after the delivery. Once the baby is nursing properly you can expect it to wet its diapers 5-6 times a day. After day 5 you can also expect at least 3 to 5 stools per day.
8. Co sleep with the baby
This is one of the simplest ways to make breastfeeding easier though some pediatricians oppose this. Co sleeping actually creates variable physiological experiences for the child. It also allows the mother-child sleep patterns to be synchronized.
Every breastfeeding baby-mother has an own rhythm. The longer you nurse in the beginning few weeks, the more milk supply you will have later. Feeding frequency, length and patterns are all affected by the size of the baby, your milk supply ebb and flow and also cultural aspects. If you are concerned about something, do talk to your doctor or a breastfeeding expert. In some cases, despite these easy ways to make breastfeeding easier, the mother and child are just not able to latch. In such a case, infant formula might be necessary.