Breastfeeding can be difficult in those early weeks because your baby is feeding on demand. You're probably feeling exhausted through lack of sleep so it's hardly surprising that you are likely to find it challenging. This is the time when many mothers decide that breastfeeding is not for them and give their baby formula milk. If you are experiencing difficulties with feeding your baby yourself, don't give up just yet! Here are a few techniques you can try that can make feeding times easier:
One of the first things that is often over-looked is the position you are in when nursing your baby. It's important that you are sitting or lying comfortably because you will probably be in that same position for a long time. If you are sitting down, prop up your arm that is supporting your baby with a pillow or cushion. This will stop your arm from aching and improve your posture.
When latching your baby on to your breast make sure that their nose is level with your nipple. Then when they open their mouth really wide, gently place your nipple towards the roof of their mouth. One of the misconceptions is that the nipple has to be in the center of the mouth. This is not the correct way to latch them on because your infant will have to suckle harder to get their milk and you will have sore nipples as a result of this.
If your nipples are sore and cracked there are some good creams that can help sooth and heal them. It's well worth buying one as it reduces soreness and makes feeding times more bearable until they have healed completely.
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When your breasts are full of milk they can become hard which can make feeding your baby more difficult. If you are experiencing this you could try putting a warm flannel on your breasts shortly before your baby is due a feed. The warmth from the flannel will help you to express milk which should help to soften them up, making it easier for your little one to latch on.
About one in ten mothers will develop mastitis. This often happens when there is a build up of milk in the breasts. The best way to treat this is to keep feeding your baby from the affected breast. If you find there is no improvement in a few days or you feel really unwell then go and see and your doctor.
The best way to prevent a build up of milk in your breasts is to make sure that your baby is latched on correctly and feed them on demand. If you still find you are producing more milk than you need, express some with a breast pump. It can be stored in the freezer for up to two weeks and if you don't think you will use it, you could give it to a hospital. Many neonatal wards are in need of breast milk as it is perfect for premature babies.
A lot of new moms worry that they are not producing enough milk. The good news is: most mothers will make enough milk to feed their babies. It's natural for newborns to lose a bit of weight when they are first born and if they are giving you six wet diapers a day then this is a good sign they are getting enough. If you are concerned, discuss this with your midwife and she will be able to give you good advice and hopefully calm any concerns you have.
Breastfeeding can be hard work in those early months, but with the right advice and support these obstacles can be overcome.
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