A Breastfeeding Guide for Beginners

All babies are unique and have their individual personalities, but one thing that they all have in common is their desire to be fed.  Breastfeeding can give baby a great start in life, providing essential nutrients for a strong and healthy immune system.

You may be a little nervous about breastfeeding for the first time, but your body knows exactly what needs to be done. You’re bringing a life into this world, how hard can providing ‘homemade’ milk be, right? Here are a few pointers to ease your mind as you prepare for the exciting months ahead.

  • Learn from the experts.
    You’ve probably already done your homework by researching  breastfeeding resources, reading books and browsing online forums where new Moms share their wisdom.. They are experts now, but they were once in your position. If you have questions, ask someone.  Most new Moms are more than willing to share their experiences.
  • The sooner you start breastfeeding, the better.
    There is nothing more rewarding than nursing and bonding with baby.
    The sooner you establish that connection, the better it will be for both of you. Try breastfeeding in the hospital just after baby is born. In the first days of breastfeeding, you’ll be providing baby with colostrum; breast milk that is yellow in colour and rich in all the nutrients baby needs to get a healthy start in life.
    By breastfeeding right way, you’ll be teaching baby how to suck, swallow and breathe properly and baby’s actions will stimulate the production of mature milk for the coming months.
  • Comfort is key.
    The best place to breastfeed is somewhere quiet and comfortable. Your first experience may be sitting up in your hospital bed, but when you get home, you’ll want to enjoy your bonding time with baby without being disrupted by a phone ringing, dog barking or washing machine spinning uncontrollably within earshot. Baby needs to be comfortable, but your comfort is also important.
  • Show some skin.
    Let baby’s bare skin touch yours by laying baby on your chest with his head supported and mouth facing your breast. Pull baby close. The sensation of skin-on-skin will calm baby and send him a signal that it’s time to latch on and be fed.
  • If baby is latching on, baby is catching on.
    Babies have a natural instinct to find and latch onto their Mom’s breast. You can help position baby by guiding baby’s mouth towards you. If baby is having a hard time finding your breast, tickle him with your nipple by touching his lips until his mouth opens. Your nipple should be touching the roof of his mouth.  Proper latching means that the majority of your areola (circle around your nipple) is in baby’s mouth. Baby’s lips should be turned outwards. If the lower lip looks like baby is keeping it tight, simply press gently on baby’s chin until the lower lip turns out.
  • Do you hear something?
    You’ll know if baby is eating if you hear or see baby swallowing.  Watch baby’s cheeks and look for movement in baby’s jaw. If baby is wetting about 8-12 diapers a day, baby is being fed and you are doing a fine job breastfeeding.
  • Discover baby’s ‘sign language’
    In the beginning, you’ll probably be feeding baby about every two hours.
    Baby will let you know when he’s hungry by doing the following; moving his mouth, trying to suck on his hands, sticking out his tongue, putting his hands near his face or putting his blanket in his mouth. Once you recognize the signs, you’ll know that baby is ready to be nursed. Once baby knows you will respond to his signals, he’ll keep using this language to get the message across. When you don’t respond and he cries, he can become frustrated and that can make feeding less enjoyable for both of you. So it’s best to answer the dinner bell when baby rings it!
  • How often can a little baby eat? You’d be surprised!
    The more baby breastfeeds, the more your body will produce mature milk and the easier it will be to feed baby in the coming months. While your breasts may be engorged, feeling tight, hard and uncomfortable, it’s a sign that your mature milk is coming in. Hang in there! Breastfeeding frequently can be exhausting but the more you breastfeed in the beginning, the more milk you’ll have and the healthier and happier your baby will be.If your engorged breasts are really painful, you can relieve some pressure by pumping or manually expressing some milk until you feel some relief.  On a positive note, your body will eventually release the perfect amount of milk every time. Patience is a virtue!
  • Try to get some sleep and take care of yourself
    Nursing can take its toll on you so you’ll have to be conscious of your eating habits. Breastfeeding can make you hungry because your body is constantly busy producing milk to feed baby. Make sure you are maintaining a healthy diet so you can be strong and energetic. Get plenty of rest when you can so you won’t be run down. Your baby needs you at your best, so he can be at his best too.

Remember that breastfeeding is a new experience for both of you.

 Enjoy it. Together, you’ve got this!