10 Tips for Breastfeeding Newborn Babies
Breastfeeding newborn babies is a learning curve that can be mastered with these easy tips.
Breastfeeding newborn babies doesn't always come naturally. Sometimes it takes an adjustment period for you and your little one. You'll both get the hang of it, but in the meantime these tips for breastfeeding newborns can help.
For one, says Cindy Leclerc, a registered nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), "Do lots of skin-to-skin snuggling. Babies that have been held skin-to-skin are more likely to breastfeed exclusively and breastfeed longer."
Also, while some moms try to get newborn babies on a schedule, this rarely works. "Nurse on demand," advises Leigh Anne O'Connor, also a certified lactation consultant, who speaks from her experience of working with new moms for 17 years and blogs at Mama Milk and Me. This means nursing whenever baby wants to feed. Additionally, this will help increase your milk supply.
Here are 10 other tips to ensure breastfeeding success for you and your newborn:
- Get Comfy
Find a comfortable place in your home for breastfeeding and make it as "breastfeeding-friendly" and soothing as possible. "Position a table with a water bottle and snacks within arm's reach," suggests Leclerc. Have soft lighting, a comfortable chair and music if that makes you happy. Make this is your go-to nursing place, free of stress.
- Prepare to Experiment
You may need to try a few positions until one clicks. "There is no one 'right position' for breastfeeding. The best position is one that is comfortable for you and your baby," says Leclerc. Some women prefer the football hold, some lie on their side -- find one that works for you.
- Try a Carrier
Some women don't like nursing in public, but nursing your baby right in a baby carrier or wrap makes it easy and discreet, says O'Connor.
- Ensure a Good Latch
Make sure your latch is good. "Baby should feed on the breast and not just on the nipple," says Leclerc. If you're feeling any pain, the latch may be off. Talk to a lactation consultant or join a breastfeeding support group. (Many hospitals and community centers offer them.)
- Don't Get Caught Up With The Numbers
Many new moms are surprised to find that they may be feeding their child eight to 12 times (or more) in 24 hours, says Leclerc. This is normal. Breastfeeding newborn babies is different from feeding older babies. Newborns have smaller stomachs, plus they're still mastering the suck, so they need to nurse more often.
- Ask For Help
If you are struggling with latch issues, sore nipples or pain, talk to your doctor, your child's pediatrician, a lactation consultant or get in touch with a mom-to-mom support group, such as La Leche League.
- Beware of Growth Spurts
There are times when your newborn seems to want to nurse all day long. "Growth spurts typically last one or two days and are common when baby is 1 to 3 weeks old, 6 to 8 weeks old and again at 3 months," says Leclerc. Yes, it may be exhausting, but don't give up. These round-the-clock feedings don't last long.
- Don't Nurse Overtime!
"Resist the urge to feed extra after baby nurses," says O'Connor. "Unless baby isn't gaining, it's almost never necessary. It can reduce your supply, and baby will expect that much from you at other feedings."
- Settle in For Evening Feedings
Did you know your milk supply is highest first thing in the morning and lowest in the evening? "It is normal for babies to cluster feed, which means feeding very often in the evening. Plan to spend the evenings snuggling and feeding," says Leclerc.
"The first few weeks of breastfeeding are the most difficult," says Leclerc. Both you and baby are learning. It really does get easier with time!
Above all, trust yourself. You can get all the advice in the world, but a mother's instinct is strong. If you think something is wrong, the latching is off or that it just doesn't feel right, go with your gut and seek help.
If you are looking for help once your newborn arrives, consider finding a doula on Care.com.
Judy Koutsky is the former editorial director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also executive editor of Parenting, AOL Parent and BabyTalk. Follow her on Twitter.