Breastfeeding your newborn
When is the perfect time to start breastfeeding your newborn? The moment your doctor or a nurse puts your newly born baby on your chest, is a perfect opportunity to bond and offer your little one some colostrum. This is the first milk your body produces after delivery and it contains antibodies that will protect your baby from infection.
It is crucial that your baby latches on properly from the start – this way you will avoid problems with feeding, as well as prevent sore and cracked nipples. Breastfeeding should not be painful, so if you do experience pain and discomfort, do not hesitate to ask for help.
How to achieve a proper latch
Place your baby close to you, with your tummies touching. Tilt your baby’s head slightly backwards and press their chin into your breast, while keeping the nose away from the breast so that breathing is not disturbed. Once your baby latches on properly, the nipple should be near the back of their mouth so that the milk goes directly down the throat.
If your newborn has trouble latching on, try to change positions slightly until you find the one that suits you both. If you’re experiencing any sort of difficulties nursing, seek help from a lactation consultant or a nurse – this will save you a lot of stress and questioning about whether you are doing things right way.
How often should your baby breastfeed?
A good rule of thumb is that your baby cannot nurse too often. However, they can nurse too little, so avoid sticking to a regimented feeding system, and feed your newborn as soon as you notice the first signs of hunger. These can include:
- Increased activity
- Searching for the nipple
- Smacking or licking lips
Crying is the late sign of hunger, so try to recognize earlier signs and feed your little one before they start crying. This means that you will probably be nursing anywhere from 8 to 12 times a day – this is normal in healthy, well fed babies. Your little one should be allowed to nurse for as long as they are sucking actively, after which you could offer the other breast. In the early days, your baby will wake up and feed frequently , day or night. If your newborn is very sleepy, you may need to wake them up gently for feeding.
How to know if your newborn is getting enough milk
After gaining back their initial weight loss after birth, your baby continues to gain weight. In the first week, you can expect an increasing number of dirty diapers every day (1 on the first day, two on the second day, etc.). After day 4, it is normal to expect 4 or more stools a day. The normal stool will be loose, sometimes containing small lumps. When it comes to wet diapers, the dynamics are similar, with the number of wet diapers increasing from day one, reaching 6 or more diapers a day after day 4.
Drinking cow’s milk can sometimes affect your little one causing symptoms such as bloating, skin rash, face swelling, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. due to the protein present in cow’s milk that your baby may be allergic to. If you are worried that this may be the case, talk to your physician about not drinking cow’s milk for a couple of weeks and see if your baby’s symptoms subside.
If you notice that:
- Your baby has no dirty or wet diapers,
- The color of the urine is dark (after day 3),
- The color of the stool is dark (after day 4),
- Your baby doesn’t nurse as often as recommended or if
- Your breasts are sore or you have a fever and flu-like symptoms,
You should consult your physician for further advice.