Welcoming a new baby can be exciting, but the task of feeding a newborn can be daunting. Here are seven practical tips to take the overwhelming feeling out of breastfeeding.
Skin to Skin, Heart to Heart
Watch how your baby responds when you are together skin-to-skin. While it is tempting to swaddle babies snugly to imitate the womb, undress them frequently and hold them close. Put a baby blanket over the two of you instead of between you. If they become frantic while trying to latch on, place them “heart to heart” on your chest, regain a sense of calm and try again.
Find people in your family, friend network and community who have breastfed. They can share tips and how they dealt with challenges like soreness or pumping while commuting to work. Don’t isolate yourself.
Learn How to Hand-Express
Hand expression can be a useful skill for dealing with the early days of engorgement, when you are gone from your baby longer than expected, or if your pump breaks.
A new baby is a magnet for visitors. Put a sign on the door and a message on voicemail saying you are focusing on sleeping, feeding and adjustment during these early weeks. Ask that people who stop by do a household task in exchange for a chance to hold the newest family member.
The mission of newborns is to double their birth weight. What would you do if that was your goal? Eat frequently!
Feeding Cues/Infant States
Crying is the very last cue that your baby is hungry. It will be easier to get your baby latched if you notice the early gestures of hunger, like lip smacking, stretching, fist sucking, squeaking and searching.
Make a Nest
Consider setting up a special area to feed your baby, especially in the early days. Have everything you might need, like your phone, a snack, a beverage, TV remote, and a book to read all within an easy reach. This will allow you to settle in for uninterrupted bliss while nursing your baby.
—By Teri Shilling, MS, CD(DONA), IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE, an internationally certified birth doula and DONA International-approved birth doula trainer. To learn about becoming a doula, visit Bastyr University's Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations.