When your baby arrives in the world, together you will begin to travel a path that will be full of adventures, new experiences, learnings, and challenges. One of the activities that will allow you to share many moments together and that can help you form an emotional bond is, without a doubt, breastfeeding your newborn.
Breast milk is a great gift you can give your newborn. It provides them with all the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong, as well as giving them antibodies that support their immune system, digestion, and brain development. If you’re able to breastfeed, this can bring great benefits to your baby.
Before starting breastfeeding a newborn, it is important to know what to expect in the first days and weeks. Here we answer the most frequently asked questions.
When can I start breastfeeding a newborn?
This question is very common among new moms and the answer is simple: it is best to start breastfeeding your little one a few hours after birth.
By sucking at your breast, your baby will stimulate the cells responsible for initiating the breast milk supply. That’s why the first time your baby feeds on you is often referred to as the “magic hour.”
In case your baby’s birth doesn’t go according to plan or on schedule and you can’t start breastfeeding them right away, don’t worry! The most important thing is that you try to express milk frequently until your little one is ready, always following your doctor’s recommendations.
What positions are recommended for breastfeeding?
There are different positions recommended by experts that you can try while breastfeeding a newborn. Ideally, you should try several to find the one that you and your baby are most comfortable with.
At first, as you learn, you will be more comfortable using the same hand to breastfeed from both breasts. To do this, place your baby across your lap to feed them with one breast and rest their head on the other arm. If your little one has reflux, you can help them by holding them at a 45-degree or a slightly more vertical position.
What will it feel like to breastfeed the first few days?
You may have heard that breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. However, it is important to note that during the first days you may experience what some specialists call “high sensitivity” or slight discomfort.
Keep in mind that your nipples need a little time to get used to your baby’s sucking and that they need to practice latching on. Be patient and, little by little, the pain will diminish. This can take about 2 to 3 weeks.
Another way to avoid pain while breastfeeding a newborn is to ensure that they latch to your breast properly. When it’s time to feed your baby, try to point your nipple towards the roof of their mouth and hold your breast. This will allow your baby to suck the nipple and some of the tissue from the areola. This can increase their milk intake and reduce breast tenderness.
If the pain becomes unbearable and is accompanied by fever, fatigue, chills, and inflammation; or the breast has red, hot, hard, or tender areas, consult your doctor.
What happens if my baby just wants to feed on one breast?
As your baby adjusts to breastfeeding and improves their latch, they may find that they prefer one of your breasts. In this case, you can choose to let them feed for as long as they want, even if this means that they spend more time on one of your breasts.
Remember that when you breastfeed, the milk changes during the course of the same feeding session. First, the milk may be somewhat watery, but as the feeding continues it will become creamier and richer in fat. For that reason, letting your child eat until they’re satisfied will allow them to take advantage of all the benefits of breast milk.
On the other hand, even if you allow your baby to spend more time feeding on one breast, you should encourage them to eat from both breasts. By doing so, your milk supply will always be ideal on both sides. Something that can help you with this is to alternate the breast with which you start each feed.
How can I tell if my baby is getting enough breast milk?
If you have questions about whether your baby is feeding enough, there are some signs that can help you know they’re eating well. Some of these are:
- Your little one maintains their weight or does not decrease more than 7% after birth.
- They soil 6 or more diapers per day and the urine has a faint color. On average you will change 6 wet diapers and 4 dirty ones.
- After breastfeeding, they wait about 3 hours before they ask for milk again.
- They feed 8-12 times a day.
Another thing you could check is your baby’s stools. During the first days, your baby will soil two diapers a day and the feces will be usually dark. The following days they may turn yellow or green. Between days 5 and 7, your baby’s poop may become yellow and soft with some lumps, and you’ll change 3 or 4 dirty diapers per day. After that, your baby may poop every time you feed them, at least during their first month of life.
On the other hand, it never hurts to consult with your pediatrician about all the doubts that may arise about breastfeeding a newborn and their evolution during the first months.
So far we talked about some things that you might notice when starting breastfeeding your newborn and we gave you some tips to help you during the first days of this wonderful process. Remember the great benefits that breast milk provides to your little one and don’t hesitate to ask for help and talk with other moms who can accompany you during this stage.
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