Start Early. It is good to begin breastfeeding within an hour after birth if possible, when the baby is alert and the instinct to suck is strong. Although you will not yet be producing milk, your breasts contain colostrum, a thin milky fluid that contains important antibodies to disease.
Feed Frequently. You should try breastfeeding your baby at least every two to three hours. This will help to keep your breasts soft and lessen or even prevent engorgement. Watch for signs that your baby is hungry, such as changes in facial expressions, sucking sounds or lip movements, and rapid eye movement or restlessness during light naps. If you keep an eye out for these signs, you can learn to anticipate your baby’s hunger. Breastfeeding on cue will help stimulate your breasts to produce more milk.
Good Positioning. Having the right positioning for breastfeeding will play a major role in reducing nipple soreness. Use your hand to support the baby’s neck. The baby’s mouth should be open wide with the lips puckered out like “fish lips,” not folded in. The nipple should go back as far into his or her mouth as possible. If you need help finding the proper positioning, ask a nurse, midwife, or other experienced mother for some help breastfeeding.
Nipple Upkeep. When you first begin breastfeeding, your nipples may become very sore. After each breastfeeding session, rub a small amount of breast milk on and around each nipple and allow it to air dry. This will help to prevent cracking, which can lead to infection. In cases where your nipples do crack, coat them with breast milk, vitamin E oil, or lanolin to help them heal. Be aware that some babies may have an allergic reaction to certain moisturizing agents. Proper positioning while breastfeeding is very important to avoid sore nipples.
Postpone Using Artificial Nipples. If you are going to be breastfeeding your baby, avoid introducing pacifiers or other artificial nipples too early. Artificial nipples require a different sucking action than the real thing, and it can be easy for your baby to become confused. Try to wait until after a couple weeks of breastfeeding, before introducing any type of fake nipple.
No Supplements Needed. There is no need to supplement breastfeeding with sugar water or formula. Neither of these come close to comparing with the nutritional complexity of your breast milk, and they may interfere with your baby’s appetite for breastfeeding and lead to a diminished milk supply. Breastfeeding your baby more often will, in turn, cause you to produce more milk.
Engorgement. When you first begin breastfeeding, you will be producing a lot of milk, which can make your breasts big, hard, and painful. You can help to ease this engorgement by breastfeeding frequently until your body adjusts to produce only as much as the baby needs. While your body adjusts, you can help to relieve the pain by applying warm, wet compresses, or taking warm baths. Some over-the-counter pain relievers will help, but consult your doctor before taking any sort of drug, because it may be passed through your milk to the baby.
Stay Healthy. A mother who is breastfeeding needs to eat a healthy diet in order to produce enough good milk. You should try and get an extra 500 calories a day, drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluids, and avoid drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and smoke. You should also rest as much as possible while breastfeeding, because breast infections are aggravated by fatigue.
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