These tips are tried and tested.
Breastfeeding can be a magical bonding experience between you and your baby but it can also be one filled with its own set of challenges, particularly in the first few weeks of your baby’s life.
There’s a lot of talk around the topic, and it can often push new parents into feelings of guilt, shame, and even isolation when it’s not happening the way they thought it would.
One mum, cutting through all of the noise, narrowed down a list of things to remember when you’re beginning on your breastfeeding journey with the most important one of all: it’s a learned skill.
Emily Wehner, wanting to help new parents during this time, highlighted the most valuable things she learned from her own breastfeeding experience.
She started with revealing that she has been breastfeeding for the last two out of three years and she, in this time, has realised that it is something that has to be learned in the hopes of comforting anyone who hasn’t picked it up immediately.
Emily then explained that babies’ tummies are ‘so small’. On the first day of your baby’s life, their stomach is the same size as a cherry, so a few ‘drops of colostrum’ (5-7ml) is sufficient.
A baby’s tummy will grow over time, and by the end of their first month, it will be the size of an egg, requiring an 80 – 150ml feed.
“Your milk will take a couple of days to come in and that’s totally normal and fine, and it’s part of it, and your baby just needs colostrum at this point. It doesn’t need big bottles of milk,” she reassures.
One of Emily’s key pieces of advice is working on ‘getting a good latch’ when you start breastfeeding your baby.
“This is going to kind of set the pace for the breastfeeding journey that you’re going to have and so you want to teach baby how to latch well,” she explains.
“If you’re having a hard time getting a good latch, your nurse can help you, there are usually lactation consultants in the hospital that can help you. There should be resources to help you get a good latch.
Emily says the take-home point here is to ‘keep trying’.
“At some point in your figuring-out-how-to-latch journey, someone may offer you a nipple shield, and I want you to say, ‘Give me a second, please. No, thank you. Not right now.'”
She recommends opting against the nipple shield if you can and to keep trying to latch without it.
“I have found that if you use it at the beginning to establish a latch, then it is really hard to stop using it.”
While on the subject of nipples, Emily truthfully admits that your nipples ‘are going to hurt’ while breastfeeding, and says this is something new mums will ‘have to get used to’.
However, she says this is just while your nipples adjust and ‘settle in’ and reassures new mums that they will stop hurting, but at the beginning, they will hurt.
“There’s a reason my mom calls them tor curling latch-ons, I mean it hurts. But you can use some nipple creams and you guys have said that the silver nipple cups – you can get them on Amazon – are amazing, and that they help a ton with this nipple pain. I have not used them, but people say that they are wonderful,” she confesses.
Emily also recommends nursing often, as much as ‘every two to three hours’. However, if your baby is hungry between them, feed them, she adds.
With this, she says there are ‘tonnes’ of different nursing positions you can try and deviating away from the traditional nursing hold is encouraged.
@emily_wehner I know it can be SO frustrating but really the more practice the better it will get. #breastfeedingjourney #breastfeedingadvice #breastfeedingproblems? ♬ original sound – Emily
“I know at this point you’re probably getting frustrating and you’re like, ‘Ugh. I don’t know if I wanna do this anymore’ and if you don’t wanna do it, you do not have to nurse. But if you really wanna nurse, you can do it, stick with it,” Emily adds.
Tummy-to-tummy is another hold the mum suggests. This involves holding your baby in a position where their tummy is against yours.
This hold will mean it’s easier and more comfortable for your baby to feed, as opposed to holding them with their tummy facing outwards and them having to turn their head to latch on.
“I was having so much trouble figuring everything out with my first and one of the things that I learned is that you kind of have to ground their feet.
“So, if you’re nursing and their feet are kind of flailing, you either wanna put them against your arm, tuck under your arm,” she demonstrates.
This, Emily shares, is because one of the things that can happen if the babies feet aren’t grounded is that they can feel like they’re ‘falling’ and will be less likely to latch.
Lastly, and most importantly, the mum says to ‘ask for help’ when you need on your breastfeeding journey.
“You can reach out to a lactation consultant, a lot of them will do video calls or come to your house. You can also go back to the hospital, a lot of hospitals have breastfeeding classes and you can sit around and nurse with other moms.”
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