Breast milk has nutrients your baby needs. It helps protect your baby from many illnesses, and it's easily digested. For you, it's convenient and economical. You can feed your baby anytime, anywhere. You may need to buy bottles or nipples if you plan to express milk and bottle-feed your baby now and then. Breastfeeding also helps your uterus return to its normal size faster. And some studies suggest that women who breastfeed may have a lower risk of developing specific types of cancer and hip fractures as they age.
Whether you're a B or a double D, it's possible to make enough milk to feed your baby. Nature designed a perfect supply-and-demand system. The more your baby stimulates your breasts by sucking, the more milk you'll produce. So even if your baby is in a growth spurt and nursing more often, your body will "keep up." Remember, mothers of twins and even triplets can have enough milk supply to breastfeed successfully.
When your baby takes your nipple, along with the areola, into his mouth and begins to suck, the sensations you feel cause a reflex called let-down. This signals your breasts to release milk. You may feel a little tingling or surging sensation when your milk lets down. You might feel slight discomfort at first, but if he latches on properly, you should not feel pain. If you do, he's probably not latched on properly.
Problems with Let-Down
If you're distracted, tired, stressed, anxious, embarrassed or have pain in your breasts, your milk may not let down.
This possibly embarrassing situation happens to all of us. For some, just thinking about their baby is enough to turn on the milk machine.
Soon after birth. At first, your baby will receive not breast milk but colostrum, a yellowish fluid full of antibodies, protective cells and nourishment. Once your milk comes in, he will get both protein-rich foremilk and satisfying, high-fat hind milk.
You may feel a little fullness if your milk comes in very quickly the first few days after birth. This is normal.Your breasts may swell, and feel uncomfortably full. Excessive engorgement, however, may be painful.
A tender, red area on your breast near the areola is a sign that you have a plugged milk duct.
Tip: Before each feeding, massage your breast, focusing on the firm area. Then nurse your baby right afterward and try to drain the affected breast.
Also called a breast infection. It can start out as a plugged duct, that gets infected, and can be accompanied by a temperature, aches and fatigue.
Tips: To avoid this, empty your breasts regularly, avoid tight clothing and try to stay rested. If you do get a breast infection, call your doctor at once. You may need an antibiotic, but you probably won't have to wean your baby. Follow your doctor's advice.
Don't set a strict baby feeding schedule, instead breastfeed your baby as often as he wants at least 8-12 times every 24 hours during the first few weeks. You'll know how you're doing by how much weight he's gaining.
To establish a good milk supply, you need to feed your baby frequently (8-12 times per day) in the first few weeks. Keeping up the frequency of feedings will keep telling your body to produce milk.
Tips: Ask yourself these questions to determine if your milk supply is sufficient:
Some Issues That May Affect Your Baby
The things you eat and drink affect your breast milk and ultimately your baby. Some babies have food sensitivities or allergies that bring on colic-like symptoms like crying, fussing, frequent nursing, and stomach discomfort.
Tip: Lay off the spicy foods or gassy foods like cabbage, garlic, onions, broccoli, and caffeine. If removing the food item doesn't stop the symptoms, talk to your baby's doctor about the possibility of colic.
Bottles and pacifiers feel different to your baby than a breast does. Introducing these things can confuse him and make him not want to nurse.
Tip: Be sure that breastfeeding is well established before offering a pacifier, or bottle-feeding him.
Some babies do better with breastfeeding than others. An excited or hungry infant might be so eager that he doesn't latch on well. Or your baby might be satisfied by getting just a taste of milk and then stop nursing.
Tips: If your baby is a “sipper,” try to keep him interested by singing or rubbing his back. Massaging your breast may help with milk flow. For additional breastfeeding questions, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant.
Have your nurse or lactation consultant help you with positions to hold your baby for feeding. Hold your breast with a “C” hold, your thumb above the breast and your four fingers supporting your breast underneath. Make sure your fingers are positioned away from the areola, so your breast can go far into your baby's mouth. Tickle your baby's lower lip to get him to open his mouth. Once he opens wide, pull him close and place his open mouth fully on your breast.
Some nipple tenderness is normal during the first days of breast feeding. But if your nipples become sore or cracked, this can hurt.
To avoid this, be sure your baby is latched on properly. He should be sucking on your breast and your nipple should be far back in his mouth. Talk to your lactation consultant if you're not sure.
To help relieve this -
If the condition doesn't improve, check with your doctor or lactation consultant about this issue and any other breastfeeding questions you may have.
Many women manage the breastfeeding/working schedule with a little planning. Whether you go back to work full-time or part-time, you can develop a breastfeeding routine that works for you and your baby. Here's a schedule that many moms follow:
Weight gain is usually slow during the first 3 months. After this, your baby begins to grow more quickly. Although everyone is different, here is a guideline of what you can expect.