Breast Feeding Basics

You’d think one hungry baby and two milk production units would just naturally get along. Well, they might, or they might need a bit of support. Don’t ever hesitate to contact your pediatrician or lactation expert if you have any questions or concerns about the breast feeding process. Many issues can be resolved easier if they are addressed sooner rather than later.

Some babies manage to latch on immediately after birth; others can take more time to get the hang of it. Most hospitals have lactation consultants or post-partum specialists available to assist new mothers with the nursing process.

If possible, having the newborn nurse right after birth is ideal. The sucking action triggers the release of hormones that help the uterus contract and expel the placenta. Feeling cramps or “after pains” during the first few days or weeks after delivery is normal and helps the uterus return to its normal size. If you are not able to nurse in the first few hours, or even the first day or two, there should be no physical difficulties with establishing nursing.

Improper positioning and latching on are the most common culprits of nursing problems and the easiest resolved, often causing pain while nursing. Sore nipples are common in the early stages of nursing, but should resolve quickly. If it is severe, or you see fissures, cracks, swelling, contact your lactation specialist who can help you make the necessary adjustments.

Engorgement is another common issue to be dealt with by nursing mothers. The breasts become swollen with milk, creating a “full” feeling for mom (and sometimes pain) and difficultly for baby to latch on. The easiest treatment is nursing on demand or pumping/expressing the milk (save and freeze for later use).

Breast-fed babies tend to eat more frequently than their formula-fed counterparts. Newborns will nurse eight to twelve or more times during a twenty-four hour period. That’s a lot of time at the breast. Nursing baby in a sling or using a nursing privacy cover (available for purchase or just use a cloth diaper to cover yourself) will help protect mom’s privacy while out and about in public places.

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