Insider Tips for Breastfeeding Success
Choosing how to feed your baby is an important decision that has lifelong effects for both you and your baby. Whether you plan to breastfeed or you are still uncertain, the research is clear-- your milk is the best milk for you and your baby, especially for your baby's first several months.
There are many reasons why breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It provides several advantages compared to formula; it has just the right amount of nutrients and it is gentle on your baby's developing stomach, intestines and other body systems.
Some notable benefits or breast milk include:
- Lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Lower risk for allergies
- Less Diarrhea
It is recommended that babies are exclusively breastfed until they are 6 months old. Luckily, as your baby grows, the nutrients in your milk will adapt to your baby's needs. In fact, the anti-infective properties of breast milk will increase if you or your baby is exposed to some new bacteria or virus.
While the benefits of breastfeeding are clear, it can be a challenging process nonetheless. Some common difficulties many women encounter include:
- Sore Nipples
- Insufficient or Delayed Milk Production
- Flat or Inverted Nipples
- Plugged Milk Ducts
In response to these challenges, some experienced breastfeeding mom’s at Gwinnett Medical Center have offered some of their key tips, a breastfeeding tool-kit of sorts. While every woman’s breastfeeding journey brings with it unique challenges and benefits, these are some of the most important things to remember:
While there isn’t a specific diet required for breastfeeding mothers, it is important to fuel your body with nutrients in order to support breast milk production. Remember that what enters your body can be passed along to your baby, so avoid fatty foods and caffeine.
Similar to your diet, there isn’t a specific amount of water that is required for breastfeeding mothers, it is especially important to stay hydrated and to stick with water. Experts recommend drinking regularly before you begin feeling thirsty or you notice other signs of dehydration.
Latching and sucking can be difficult for your baby at first, especially during the first days after birth, but don’t get discouraged. Remember, this is a learning process for both you and your baby.
If you are having persistent latching or sucking difficulties, make sure to seek the assistance of a lactation consultant and your baby’s physician. In addition, try taking a closer look at feeding times, using breast massage techniques and trying breastfeeding devices (i.e. nipple shields and pumps).
Sore nipples are very common with breastfeeding; however, breastfeeding should not hurt or be painful. While tenderness or sensitivity is common during the first several weeks, it should go away on its own. If you experience more intense pain or bruising, it is likely an indication of latching or sucking difficulties.
To maintain healthy nipples and prevent soreness make sure your nipples stay hydrated. Nipple cream (lanolin cream), coconut oil and even your own breast milk are great options to help prevent nipple dryness. Make sure that bras, clothing and soaps are not irritating your nipples. Finally, changing nursing positions can help as well.
Breast milk is produced based on supply and demand.
Your production will naturally ebb and flow, but there are some conditions that can have an impact on milk production, including thyroid conditions, smoking, alcohol consumption and some medications.
Some helpful techniques you can use promote breast milk production are to increase the number or breastfeedings or pumpings, increase skin time with your baby, pump after breastfeeding and seek additional advice from a lactation consultant who can address your unique circumstances.
Breastfeeding is a very special experience for both you and your baby. One that not only offers numerous health benefits, but also encourages a special bond. It is essential to remember that breastfeeding is a journey, one that requires patience as you and your baby learn together. If challenges or difficulties do arise, seek expertise and guidance from the lactation professionals at the Gwinnett Women’s Pavilion. You can also utilize Gwinnett Medical Center’s educational resources, support groups and breast pump rentals.