Breastfeeding a newborn can feel like a full-time job for many new mothers, and it is important to know that this is completely normal! Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be mastered (for both you and baby) and it takes a lot of time, energy, perseverance and many a late night. But you can do this, and we’ve got everything you need to know about breastfeeding a newborn here:
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Like most things in life, breastfeeding is a skill that we need to learn and practice. there are so many things we need to know about breastfeeding so here is what you need to know about breastfeeding a newborn.
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Breastfeeding a Newborn: My Top Tips
Early Feeding Cues
Knowing your baby’s early feeding cues can help alleviate any stress of trying to get your baby to latch – especially in the early days. If your baby puts her hand to her mouth, starts rooting, lip-smacking or cycling her arms and/or legs, put her to your breast.
Regardless of what anyone says, your nipples will become tender and sore in the early days. Be prepared and pick up some nipple cream and compress pads. Some days, the relief from these alone may bring you sheer joy – it certainly did in my case!
A good maternity bra is also a must, although until your milk settles I would recommend just picking up some inexpensive nursing bras. Once your breasts settle, you can splash out on some pretty nursing bras if that’s what you want to do.
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Skin To Skin
It is well documented that babies who are held close cry less and have lower stress hormone levels, however when it comes to breastfeeding a newborn there are so many more benefits. The most powerful of all being that skin-to-skin helps aid milk production by increasing your levels of the milk-making hormone, oxytocin.
Practice skin-to-skin with your baby as much as you possibly can – it will also help with those bonding days as you both get to know each other, and it is extremely reassuring for your newborn.
Scrap The Routine
Watch your baby, not the clock. Unlike my formula-fed children, one thing I discovered pretty quickly while breastfeeding baby number four was to ditch the routine. Breastfed babies feed on demand and if you have bottle-fed in the past, it might make it a little harder for you to adjust to your new routine (or lack of).
Give Yourself Time
Like everything, learning to breastfeed a newborn is like learning a new skill. It takes time, patience and a lot of energy. Be ruthless and give yourself time wherever you can. You have just birthed a baby, so allow your body to heal with plenty of rest and take all the support you can get.
Find Your Tribe
Wherever you live, there is undoubtedly a breastfeeding support class within a short drive – and it is worth making the journey if you can. You can also ask your maternity hospital or midwife about breastfeeding classes, or join breastfeeding groups in your area on Facebook.
Make attending a class or group a priority, and bring your partner for support too. Do what you can to arm yourself with information in advance. Having local mums who are in the same position, with babies of a similar age is a really great community to get involved in – and can be a great source of comfort, companionship and support for new mums.
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At first, your body will produce a substance called colostrum and it will take a few days for your milk to come in. Try not to stress about it! I know that’s easier said than done, but trust your body. Our milk is designed with the right balance of nutrients for our babies, although oats, lactation cookies and fennel tea are believed to help boost milk supply.
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Don’t Forget To Swap
To prevent any blockages, make sure you swap baby from breast to breast. Your breasts should be emptied at each feed. If your baby falls asleep at the breast, try moving them to the other side.
Breastfeeding is a thirsty business, so drink plenty of water! In fact, before baby arrives, try to batch cook meals and freeze dinners in advance, and also stock up on plenty of snacks you can eat with one hand while feeding. It’s one thing you won’t regret buying!
Don’t Waste Your Money
One thing I learned early on during my breastfeeding journey was not to faff about with expensive nursing clothes. Realistically, all you need are comfortably fitted nursing bras. Wear easily accessible clothes with buttons down the front or wear a string top over another.
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Invest in a nursing pillow for added comfort, then research YouTube for different nursing positions. Try to get to grips with the different feeding positions that you could try, so that when the baby comes you are better prepared to give a new position a try.
The ‘cradle hold’ is the most popular, followed by the ‘clutch hold’ and then the ‘side-lying’ position. Explore all options and figure out what works best for you and your baby.
While the video here was designed to help parents feeding babies in a hospital, it has some great information on positioning and latches for breastfeeding a newborn, so it is worth a watch:
Nipple Shields Are Not The Devil
Nipple shields are frowned upon by many, however, thousands of mothers across the world will tell you they wouldn’t be breastfeeding today without them – including myself.
Unfortunately, some breastfeeding mothers experience cracked nipples early on and need something to help aid healing time. It’s something to think about if you are really struggling.
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Ask For Help
Before your baby arrives, research qualified and accredited lactation consultants in your area. Ask friends, family members, your midwife or even your GP for recommendations. Keep the number of any recommendation to hand, as you might need it – there is no breastfeeding problem a lactation consultant cannot fix!
Consultations and home visit costs may vary but, realistically, an hour with a lactation consultant is cheaper than a couple of months supply of baby formula.
And remember, new mums can avail of their maternity hospital lactation consultant until six weeks postpartum so get in touch if any issues arise.
Don’t Give Up On A Bad Day
Stopping breastfeeding might be an easy decision for some mothers, but one thing is for sure, never give up on a bad day. If you are struggling, ask for help and contact a breastfeeding consultant. There is a solution to every problem but remember, no matter what happens along the road of your breastfeeding journey, be proud of what you have achieved.
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Aside from all the health benefits, one of the things I have learnt throughout my own breastfeeding experience is that boobies fix everything! Don’t knock it until you try it, and if you have friends or family members starting out on their breastfeeding journey, drop by with a cake and support them in any way you can.
Sign up for Netflix, keep the snacks in reach, sit back and enjoy those long nursing sessions, because I can promise you something – they do not last forever.
Useful websites To bookmark: ALC Ireland, Cuidiu, Kelly Mom, La Leche League Ireland, Friends of Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding.ie
What are your tips for breastfeeding a newborn? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!