Breastfeeding for Beginners: The Start of a New Mother’s Journey
6 min. read
Some of the most common newborn baby questions are about feeding, since feedings will take up the much of a baby’s first few months.
Here we’ll address all the essential breastfeeding questions, from the breastfeeding basics to our top tips on effectively nursing newborns. As always, if you have any questions or concerns never hesitate to seek a second professional opinion.
The breastfeeding basics
While every baby is different, newborns generally eat every two to three hours for a total of eight to 12 times every 24 hours. In the first day or two after birth, babies typically eat one to two ounces per feeding. This amount will gradually increase to two to three ounces once the baby reaches about two weeks of age. You can find more about information about how much newborns should eat here.
How long do nursing sessions take? Again, every baby is different so there is no set time frame that every newborn is required to follow. But generally, breastfeeding newborns lasts anywhere from five minutes to one hour in duration. This timing will depend on the newborn’s size, age, and feeding frequency.
How to start breastfeeding
After giving birth, parents should try to take advantage of these first moments by laying the baby on their chest skin-to-skin. This time is known as ‘The Golden Hour’ and it’s a moment for the parent and baby to bond, as well as kick-start the newborn’s natural feeding instincts.
Comfort is key. One of the best ways to help make breastfeeding successful is to ensure that the mother is comfortable and relaxed. She can start by positioning herself on a couch, bed, or armchair with pillows for support. Breastfeeding mothers can also get creative with their breastfeeding techniques through lighting preferences, soothing music, or whatever relaxes them best.
Hold the baby close. Want breastfeeding made simple? Rather than leaning forward, mothers should bring their baby up close to their breasts. The baby’s mouth should be opposite the nipple with his or her head extended and shoulders and hips in line. The mother can also try gently brushing her nipple against her baby’s nose and mouth to encourage an easier latch.
Support the breast. While one hand supports the newborn, the mother can use her other hand to support just under the breast. When learning how to breastfeed, some mothers may prefer their hand to be free, in which case they can use a rolled towel instead.
There are many different breastfeeding positions that mothers can experiment with to figure out which is most effective for nursing their newborn. Below are some of the most common breastfeeding techniques:
1. Cradle hold
In this position, the baby is supported by the mother’s arm that’s on the side of the nursing breast. The baby can then rest his or her head in the crook of the elbow while feeding.
2. Cross cradle hold
The cross cradle calls for the mother to hold the baby with the arm opposite of the side she is nursing from. The mother can then use her other hand to support under the breast while nursing.
3. Underarm hold
In this position, the mother holds the baby beside her with his or her back resting on her forearm. The other hand helps to support the baby’s head as he or she faces toward the breast that the mother is nursing from.
4. Use a warm compress
A warm compress can help to relieve some of the discomfort in the affected breast. Mothers can apply a warm, moist towel to the area of the clogged duct several times a day while gently massaging their breast.
5. Lying down
The lying down position calls for the mother to lay on her side in bed with the baby facing towards her breast. She can then support the baby’s back with her upper hand or place a rolled towel against him or her.
Breastfeeding tips for newborns
Now that we’ve gone over the breastfeeding techniques, we have a few breastfeeding tips that mothers may find helpful for breastfeeding a newborn:
Ensure a proper latch. A good latch offers numerous benefits for both the mother and baby. It means that the infant is correctly extracting the milk and can also help the mother avoid nipple pain. To achieve a good latch, the mother can experiment with different positions until she finds the one that helps her newborn latch. Mothers can also contact a lactation consultant if they feel they are struggling during feedings.
Maintain milk supply. There may be times when breastfeeding mothers can’t be with their baby during a feed, but it’s still important that they maintain their supply. Pumping milk is a wonderful solution to keep up with milk production when mom and baby aren’t together. Consider this double breast pump that reduces expression time, while its soft massage cushion gently stimulates milk flow.
Breastfeeding on the go. One of the many perks of breastfeeding is that mothers can take it with them everywhere they go. For some mothers, breastfeeding in public can be a bit intimidating at first. To help alleviate any nerves, mothers can practice how to breastfeed a newborn in front of the mirror beforehand and wear clothes that are easier to nurse in. A shawl or scarf may also be useful to make breastfeeding mothers feel more comfortable when nursing away from home. And to keep clothes dry and stain-free while on the go, mothers can use these honeycombed breast pads with a leak-proof, breathable design.
Prepare for the challenges. It’s important that mothers avoid panicking or becoming discouraged if they encounter a common breastfeeding problem along the way, such as milk supply issues, engorgement, clogged ducts, mastitis, or sore nipples. A support network made up of friends, family, and healthcare professionals can help moms feel confident and reassured throughout every stage of their breastfeeding journey. Staying calm is key, but moms should always talk to their doctor if they are concerned about any aspect of their breast health.