Hey there, mamas! Did you read the first post in our Breastfeeding 101 series? Here’s the link if you missed it: breastfeeding post #1.
In the last post we talked about preparing to breastfeed BEFORE you have your baby is born. This post will address when and how to start breastfeeding.
1. When do I breastfeed my baby for the first time? How do I do it?
The short answer to this question is as soon as possible after baby’s birth is a good idea. Even in hospitals nowadays, babies are usually placed skin to skin with their mother immediately or very shortly after birth. Skin to skin time is very important when breastfeeding. When get to hold your baby for the first time, get to know your baby a little bit. Hold baby, look at them, talk to them. If you can, dim the lights a bit so they can open their eyes and you can get comfortable with each other. When you feel ready, bring baby to the breast and try to get a good latch.
Getting a good latch is crucial.
Put some time into researching what a good latch looks like, and how to achieve this. Basically, you want baby’s lips splayed around the nipple and onto the areola. Make sure neither the top or bottom lip is curved in (have dad check if you can’t see). Baby’s lips should be flipped out all around the nipple and areola. Stroke the baby’s mouth and wait for baby to open their mouth good and wide. Holding the breast, bring baby to the breast and make sure the nipple goes into baby’s mouth, as far as you can. You may find it helpful to compress the breast in order to get it far enough into your baby’s mouth.
Use a lactation consultant.
Have them come help and watch you latch baby onto the breast. Keep her phone number! Don’t hesitate to call her if you need to.
There will be some discomfort.
I know this may be disputable. I’ve read many sources that say if you get a proper latch that breastfeeding won’t hurt, even the first time. Well, I’m here to share my opinion on the matter. After successfully breastfeeding 6 babies, I can confidently say that even when you get a good latch, it hurts! (at first) It hurts to have this little newborn creature with an incredibly strong instinct to suckle attached to your very sensitive nipple. It just does.
HOWEVER, a proper latch is KEY to lessening the discomfort, and it WILL get better. Give yourself a little time (a good two weeks) to get used to latching baby on and let your nipples get used to the process. After six weeks you should be feeling pretty confident in latching your baby onto the breast. If you don’t, call a lactation counselor or consultant to get an evaluation and some tips. Teach your partner what a good latch looks like and have them help you.
Using a good supportive nursing pillow can help get a proper latch. You can also try different feeding positions such as the cradle hold, football hold, lying down, etc. Some of these positions may be easier than others at first. Find what is easiest for you and do that.
**You may have heard the suggestion to “pre-toughen” your nipples by rubbing them with a washcloth, or by some other method. DO NOT DO THIS. This is just going to cause you discomfort, irritation and pain unnecessarily.
CAUTION: if you notice any blisters, red splotches, get a fever, feel sick, get help right away!
Mastitis (breast infection) is serious but can be treated with antibiotics. Call a lactation consultant or your doctor ASAP. Blisters are a sign of an improper latch. If you have a blister, you may need to pump from that breast for a couple days until it goes away.
Lindsay at Lactation Link is a GREAT resource! I would suggest to check out her site and take her course if at all possible. You can follow her on Instagram and even sign up for a free email course. (I am NOT an affiliate, I have just followed her enough to know that she is legit and if I were going to be nursing a baby I would take her class.)
Stay tuned, mamas! We will have more great tips on breastfeeding coming in the next Breastfeeding 101 post.
If you have any breastfeeding questions, leave them in the comments. I will pass them onto my lactation counselors and share their info with you in a future post.
If you need a newborn photographer Mesa, let me know! Hit the contact button and let’s chat. 🙂