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10 Tips to Make Breastfeeding Easier

by Laurence-Emmanuelle Bédard Published on July 6, 2015

Breastfeeding is a natural phenomenon for which your body prepares throughout your pregnancy. In Canada, 89% of mothers breastfeed their babies at birth. The lack of milk and breastfeeding difficulties are the main reasons given by mothers who stop breastfeeding before the age of 6 months. Here are 10 tips for a successful breastfeeding.

1. Prepare Your Breasts for Breastfeeding

No special preparation of the breasts is required for successful breastfeeding. The breasts are preparing themselves naturally during pregnancy. However, this does not guarantee that the suction of the first feedings will not be painful or that you will not develop cracks. Use a fatty soap to avoid drying out your nipple. Regularly massage your areola and nipple with a fatty cream or oil to moisturize and soften.

2. Breastfeed Immediately after Birth

The skin to skin contact between you and your baby triggers your lactation and your baby's sucking reflex. It also helps to stay warm and reduce stress. So, your baby will begin to look for the breast that produces more milk faster. Babies are often more alert and eager to drink in the first hour after birth. In the case of birth by caesarean section, the mother or father can hold the baby skin-to-skin until the baby can enjoy his first feed.

3. Master the Technique

Bring your baby to your breast rather than your breast to your baby. Firmly support the neck and shoulders of your baby without pushing the back of its head, because the baby often reacts to that pressure by pulling away from the breast. You can release a few drops of your milk to awaken your baby's senses of taste and smell. When your baby releases your nipple or stops sucking vigorously, burp it and offer the other breast. If you must remove your baby from your breast, gently insert a finger in the corner of its mouth until the connection is broken.

4. Find the Position that Suits YOU

There are many breastfeeding positions. Find the one that is most comfortable for you and your baby. If you gave birth by caesarean section, you may need help to find a comfortable position for you and your baby. Enlist the help of nurses, your doctor, your midwife, or consultant.

5. Relieve your Chest

During the first few days, expose your nipples to air or light after each feeding. Leave some dried milk on your nipples. It has lubricating and anti-infectious properties. If your breasts are swollen and painful, cold compresses decrease the swelling, then a light massage and heat (a hot towel or hot shower) will help get the milk flowing. You will feel more comfortable if you get a little milk to flow before feeding to relieve the pressure and if you breastfeed more often.

    Some tips:

    • Breastfeed the least sore side first.
    • Gently massage your breasts while nursing. This helps the milk to flow.
    • Wear a bra and use only cotton breast pads without plastic lining.
    • Avoid wearing a bra that is too tight.
    • Change your position at each feeding. The baby's mouth will put pressure on different parts of the nipple. Sit for one feed, lie down for the next.

    6. Stimulate your Baby

    Learn to milk your breast by hand so you can stimulate your baby by placing a few drops of milk on your nipple. This helps your newborn to start sucking and softens your breast. At the end of a feed, you can also spread a few drops of milk over your nipples to lubricate them by gently massaging to help prevent chapping and cracking. Frequently breastfeeding your baby will also help to increase your milk supply. The more you breastfeed your baby, the more milk you will produce.

    7. Watch the Baby, Not the Clock!

    Stay tuned for hunger signs that your baby wants to drink: for example, when it nuzzles, licks its lips, or puts its hands to its mouth. Crying is a late sign of hunger. Instead of scheduling feedings according to the clock, watch instead for the appearance of such signs. Some babies prefer several “services” while others prefer a long meal. Do not rush your baby, take your time.

    8. Determine if Your Baby is Nursing Properly

    There are several signs that your newborn is breastfeeding well. First, it should take the nipple and much of the areola (the dark part of the breast) in its mouth. Its chin should touch the breast, lips curled outward. When it begins feeding, your baby swallows milk with each sucking motion with occasional short breaks. During feeding, the sucking pace slows down. If all goes well, feeding is not painful!

    9. Take Care of Yourself

    Don't ignore your own needs during breastfeeding and think about resting and relaxing. That will be good for you as well as for your milk production. During the first few days, try to rest while your baby sleeps. Eat healthy, complete meals and drink when you are thirsty. When you breastfeed your baby, you can have a snack and a drink.

    10. Listen to Yourself!

    Breastfeeding is not for all mothers. You have to know when to let go. Yes, okay, mom's milk is more nutritious for the baby, but if breastfeeding is not a source of happiness, there is no point in feeling guilty! Simply use a bottle instead. After all, blood is thicker than mother's milk!

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    by Laurence-Emmanuelle Bédard

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