Breastfeeding is ultimately a much different experience for every mother. It can even be a different experience between children for the same mother! Some women may have incredible experiences with breastfeeding, while others may have less than pleasant experiences. Working alongside our experienced professionals can help to provide a far more positive breastfeeding experience, which will help to keep your baby happy and healthy. Here are a few important things to understand regarding the basics of breastfeeding.
Breast Preparation During Pregnancy
Breastfeeding doesn’t start when the baby is born. In fact, the body starts preparing to breast feed during pregnancy. Most women will notice that their breasts become larger and their areolas become darker during pregnancy. These changes are completely natural and are actually good signs. These show that your body is beginning to prepare to produce breast milk.
Basics of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is often an incredibly healthy decision to make for your child. There are many benefits to choosing to breastfeed your baby. It can help to provide valuable bonding opportunities between you and your baby. It is also convenient and inexpensive when compared to formula related alternatives. These are just a few of the benefits that come along with breastfeeding.
Based on Supply and Demand
Your body’s production of breast milk will ultimately fluctuate based on supply and demand. The amount of milk that your body produces will be based on how much your baby consumes. If your baby has a good latch, you likely don’t have to worry about your baby getting enough to eat. However, it is still important to pay attention to the signs that your baby is eating enough, as well of the signs that they are hungry.
Stages of Breastfeeding
There are multiple stages during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. During the first stage, your body produces a milk that is called colostrum. This stage generally lasts for the first few days after birth. Colostrum exhibits a yellow or orange tint. The substance is filled with essential nutrients and is rather thick and rich. Around the 3rd or 4th day after giving birth, the amount of milk produced will likely increase. This is the period at which the milk changes from colostrum to transitional milk, which is ultimately a combination of colostrum and mature milk to help the baby transition. Around approximately 10 days to 2 weeks after birth, the transitional milk will change to mature milk, which will last throughout the rest of your breastfeeding process.
When to Start Breastfeeding
Ultimately, it is usually best to start breastfeeding as soon as possible after giving birth. Usually you will want to begin breastfeeding within an hour of giving birth. Babies tend to be rather alert for the first two hours after birth, which makes it an ideal time to begin breastfeeding.
The Importance of Latching
It is important to get guidance regarding how to get your baby to latch appropriately. With a good latch, the baby will be able to more efficiently remove breast milk and get adequate levels of nutrition. When the baby has a poor latch, it will often result in them not getting enough milk. In addition, the milk supply won’t adjust according to your baby’s needs. A poor latch also tends to result in soreness and pain to the breasts. A midwife is often the best person to go to for help with latching, because they have a significant amount of experience with helping new mothers to get their babies to latch.
Supplies for Breastfeeding
One of the major benefits of breastfeeding is that there are very few essential supplies. All you truly need are your breasts and your baby. However, there are many additional supplies that can be especially helpful while you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding pillows and stools can be implemented to help provide you with a more comfortable breastfeeding experience. Cover-ups and clothes can be used to help protect your privacy and enhance your comfort. A nipple shield can help to prevent irritation and soreness. Nursing bras can be especially beneficial because they will hide leaking and other related issues.
There are many reasons that a breastfeeding mother might pump. Some mothers pump regularly in order to relieve breast engorgement. It can also be done simply to be able to use a bottle periodically, without having to resort to formula. Pumping can ensure that a mother is still able to breastfeed even if she has to return to work.
Is your Baby Drinking Enough Milk?
It is important to understand the signs that your baby is drinking enough milk. First and foremost, it is important to ensure that your baby is latching correctly so that they are able to obtain adequate nutrition. In general, your baby should want to feed about every 2 to 3 hours. They have small stomachs and are unable to eat a significant amount in one sitting. Your baby should also be steadily gaining weight as they grow. A baby that is drinking enough milk will generally have around 6 to 8 wet diapers daily, as well as have regular bowel movements.
Signs that your Baby is Hungry
Understanding the signs that your baby is hungry will ensure that you feed them as necessary. These signs can also help you to feed your baby before they are crying, as they may be incredibly uncomfortable by this point. Common signs that your baby is hungry include nuzzling against your breasts or opening their mouth. They may also suck vigorously on their hand, your shirt, or another object. If a baby makes lip-smacking sounds or sucks on their lip or tongue, they are likely hungry. Crying is a huge indication that they are hungry.
Learning the basics of breastfeeding can go a long way toward improving the health of your child and ensuring a more positive experience. Here at My Family Birth Center, our experienced team is highly capable of providing you with guidance regarding the best ways to breastfeed. To learn more about the basics of breastfeeding, contact us at My Family Birth Center today!