The birth of your baby is an exciting time. However, when it comes to breastfeeding this can pose challenging for many moms. Although breastfeeding is natural, it does not necessarily come naturally and that’s OK! Early and regular stimulation to the breast is KEY in the first few days. This is what encourages breast milk production. This sends a signal to your body to make that LIQUID GOLD. Below are a few of my personal tips to help you get through the first five days of your breastfeeding journey and beyond.
- Be Patient:
Don’t stress about your MILK Supply. This is really important. Many moms expect to see milk flowing from their breasts immediately after giving birth. It is not that simple. There is a process to making breast milk. Your body needs time to adjust to the birth of your baby. The first milk your baby will get is called Colostrum. This milk is thin, yellow, and contains antibodies to protect your newborn from disease.
Colostrum contains everything your baby needs to transition to life outside your body. Babies tummies are tiny and when born are the size of a cherry. Babies typically only need about 1-4 teaspoons of colostrum each feeding on day 1-2. So even though you may not see much milk in the beginning, don’t panic! Your body is definitely in the milk production process. Remember, with consistent breast stimulation by nursing, pumping, and or hand expression your mature milk will begin to come in. This typically happens between days 2-5. Sometimes later. This too, is ok!
- Be Prepared:
Be prepared to breastfeed A LOT. There should be constant breast stimulation, especially in the early days. It is recommended that mamas “Feed on Demand”. This can be as often as 10-12x within a 24 hr. period. For those mamas who pump or hand express, you should try your best to remove your milk often and effectively. At least every 1.5-3 hrs. Or 10-12x a day, too. This sends the message to the body to make milk.
Be prepared for tender/ sore nipples. This is a part of the process! It’s important to know that this is pretty common and does get better with time. Applying nipple cream and or breast milk to the nipples can help. Also, allowing the breast to dangle can help as well. I recommend wearing loose fitting bras and tops. You can also use nipple shells, or lacti-cups to help with sensitive nipples.
Be prepared for engorgement. This is when your breasts become painfully hard, warm/ hot, and feel extremely heavy. Many mamas express feeling like their breasts are about to bust. This is normal and happens when your milk production is increasing and in the regulating stage.
Be prepared to be exhausted. You will be exhausted and that’s understandable. You just gave birth. Be easy on yourself. Lean on support, and take it one day at a time.
Lastly, be prepared for your baby to lose weight within the first days of life. Healthy newborn babies are expected to lose 7-10% of their birth weight, but should regain that weight within 2 weeks. Babies are born with extra fluids due to labor medications and IV fluids during labor, so don’t be alarmed. This is normal!
- Know your Options:
If baby is unable to latch onto the breast for whatever reason, know there are other options if you want to breastfeed. This is important because milk production starts once your baby is born and the placenta is released. Delaying the stimulation part of milk production can send a signal to your body that you don’t need milk. That’s why stimulation of the breast early on is so important for future milk production.
You do have options.
Try hand expression: Hand expressing your milk takes some practice, however, this is a good way to stimulate the breast without actually nursing.
Use an Electric or Manual Breast Pump: Using a Breast Pump is another option that can be used to stimulate the breast if the baby is unable to latch.
- Be Open to Try Different Breastfeeding Positions for both you and baby:
Try different Breastfeeding Positions. Find a position that both you and baby are comfortable with. There are 5 different breastfeeding positions. Cradle hold, Crossover hold, Football hold, Laid-back position (“biological nursing”), and Side-lying position. Also, use a pillow or a nursing pillow to help make you both more comfortable.
- Make Special Requests:
It’s ok to Request certain things that you think will help. Remember, “My Body. My Baby. My Business”. You have a right to make requests!
Request Skin to skin: This is important and research suggest that babies who receive skin to skin are more likely to latch on, and more likely to latch on well.
Request to avoid pacifiers and bottles: When possible request that nurses & family refrain from offering baby bottles or pacifiers. This can interfere with baby latching onto the breast.
Request to keep baby close: You can request that baby is left in the room with you. Many times if baby is full term and has no concerns this is ok. Also, many tests that need to be performed can be done in the same room with you. Research shows that having babies near helps encourage milk production. Being able to smell and touch your baby leads to an oxytocin surge, which stimulates the release of milk from the breast.
- Fuel your body & hydrate:
This is another important component. Once we give birth, we are tired. Beat. Many times food and fluids are the last thing on our minds. However, it is important for your overall health. Remember, when your body is fueled and hydrated it is able to perform at its best… so eat up, and drink your fluids. This can definitely help you feel better, at the same time assist in the milk making process. Suggestions: I recommend iron filled foods like oatmeal and hydrating fluids like water and coconut water(i know….it can be found 😂)
At the end of the day, take it one day at a time, one feeding at a time. This journey is not easy, but it is possible. You can do this! Good luck, mama.
YOU GOT THIS!