Newborn Breastfeeding: What to Expect

Newborn Breastfeeding: What to ExpectAs you embrace your newborn baby for the first time and breathe in her delicious scent, it’s a great time to begin your most precious early motherhood experience: breastfeeding! Breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth is beneficial to both you and your baby. Newborn breastfeeding takes a lot of practice so the earlier you start, the better you’ll be able to navigate together. Today we’re sharing what to expect from newborn breastfeeding.

Eager to Nurse

Most full term newborns are eager to nurse. Believe it or not, your newborn will know your voice and enjoy your warmth immediately as you cradle her for the first time. And she’ll be able to locate that delicious breast milk you’ve been brewing. While her motor skills are lacking, many newborns can “crawl” to find their mother’s breast for nursing.

Early Breast Milk

The first type of breast milk you will produce may not look much like you expect. Your early milk is called colostrum and it is a yellowish paste-like consistency that is rich in protein, carbohydrates and antibodies to protect your baby. It is very easy for your newborn to digest colostrum and will encourage bowel movements to cleanse her system after being in the womb. You may not produce a lot of colostrum but a little bit goes a long way in your baby’s tiny tummy. After two to four days, your initial milk will start to come in. This increases in fat that your baby will need to grow.

How Often To Feed

For at least the first six weeks of your baby’s life, newborn breastfeeding can be a full time job. Newborns may nurse up to 12 times a day – that’s every two hours around the clock. Depending on your pediatrician’s advice, you may need to wake your baby every two hours for daytime feedings and every four hours for nighttime feedings. It’s common for newborns to fall asleep while breastfeeding so you may want to un-swaddle your baby and stimulate her with tickles or a wet washcloth to keep her engaged.

Signs Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk

Observing your baby is the best way to tell if she’s getting enough breast milk. While it’s normal for babies to lose up to 10% of their birth weight during the first few days of life, your baby should start regaining weight within a week. Weight gain is a sign that your baby is feeding well. Your baby should also wet and soil many diapers a day – possibly one or two between each feeding. Additionally, most satisfied babies will act content after feedings, however this is a tough gage because your baby may be fussy for other reasons than being hungry.

Latch and Positioning

Latch and positioning are two important parts of successful newborn breastfeeding. Establishing a good latch from the get-go is crucial. Some babies get the hang of latching right away and others need a little help. You can encourage good latch by helping your baby open her mouth completely, placing your entire areola in her mouth and ensuring her tongue and lips are in the proper place. You’ll probably want to play around with breastfeeding positions until you find the ones that are most comfortable for you. Switching positions during feedings and throughout the day is helpful for stimulating milk ducts all over your breast and to reduce the nipple soreness.

Common Issues

Unfortunately nipple soreness is often an unwanted side-effect of newborn breastfeeding. If you experience sore nipples, check your baby’s latch or seek help from a nurse or lactation consultant in the hospital. Even if your baby is latching properly, you may feel tenderness for the few weeks. Use a lanolin based cream or your own breast milk to soothe and heal your nipples.

Once your milk comes in, your cup may runneth over. In other words, you may overproduce milk at first as your body naturally adjusts to your baby’s needs. This can lead to engorgement, plugged ducts or a breast infection. You may need to pump to relieve your breasts in-between feedings. Conversely, if your milk supply is low, pumping between feedings can help build your milk supply. Plus feeding often and enjoying lots of skin-to-skin contact will help stimulate milk production.

Seeking Support

Many moms, especially first-time moms, find newborn breastfeeding to be the hardest stage. You’re both learning the ropes and there are sure to be some bumps along the way. That’s completely normal and it’s essential that you stay calm and continue to work together while trying to overcome any challenges. The good news is that there are many ways to get help. For in-person support, reach out to a lactation consultant through your hospital, OBGYN practice, La Leche League or WIC office. You can also find a wealth of online resources or seek help from an experienced mom friend. Never feel you are in it alone because there are plenty of people ready and willing to help.

Sources:  KellyMom, Fit Pregnancy, BabyCenter and La Leche League

 

Loving Moments believes moms should have the knowledge, resources and power to make the healthiest choices for their babies, starting with breastfeeding. In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month in August, we are sharing Breastfeeding Basics, our educational blog series that we hope will empower you with information, encouragement and inspiration to meet your breastfeeding goals.

 

What you should Know about Newborns

To a certain extent, each of us has an idealistic perspective on having a baby.  While we know we’ll be contending with crying, constant diaper changes and a lot of work ahead of us, there are several aspects of having a newborn that are completely unfamiliar.  The newborn stage is filled with joys and challenges, many of which are unexpected.  Today we’re sharing what you should know about newborns to help prepare you for the arrival of your new baby.

Even full term babies are not fully developed at birth.  Although we try to bake our babies as long as possible, even 9½ months of growth in a mother’s womb doesn’t completely get the job done.  Bones, cognition and many bodily functions are still maturing well into the first year of a baby’s life.  This is why nutrition, healthy sleep habits and nurture are essential to a baby’s physical, mental and emotional survival.

Babies can be fierce and explosive.  Your baby may look tender and delicate but babies are much stronger than you would ever imagine.  A baby’s grasp or tug of the hair may feel like you are wrestling with a body builder at times.  And you may be surprised at the volume, velocity and force of your baby’s spit-up and poop.  For such a small creature, they can really spew despite champion burping and super-duper diapering.

Newborns may look odd but they grow out of it.  When you see beautiful pictures of babies, you’re usually not looking at a newborn, but rather an older infant.  Newborns are often misshaped from their experience in the womb and journey through the birth canal during labor and delivery.  Sometimes the head is shaped like a cone and without muscle tone and facial features are limp.  Additionally, babies often have skin conditions from being submerged in amniotic fluid.  But don’t worry, the newborn aesthetics shed as your baby matures into an adorable infant.

What you should Know about NewbornsBabies are pretty vocal about getting enough to eat.  The most fundamental need of a baby is to be fed.  But if you’ve never fed a newborn before, how on Earth do you know if she’s getting enough to eat, especially if you’re breastfeeding?  The truth is, your baby will tell you in three ways:  1) she’ll root and cry when she’s hungry (and you’ll learn the hunger cry pretty quickly) 2) she will be soiling diapers frequently, and 3) she’ll gain weight when she’s eating well.

Love at first sight is not always the case.  Every parent and baby bonds at their own pace.  For some, they fall in love immediately.  However, sometimes the stress, hormones, life changes and time commitment involved in parenting delays the bonding process.  The connection will develop gradually over time when parents remember to remain calm, nurture their children, meet their basic needs and take “stress free” breaks when necessary.

Babies require basic mammalian social needs that have evolved over 30 million years.  Social mammals have been around for a long time and their needs require “intensive parenting,” according to Psychology Today.   This means that newborns and babies need breastfeeding for holistic health; constant touch, love and affection; responsiveness to their distress; playtime starting at birth; and someone to help them meet their physical needs of food, shelter and protection.

Newborns aren’t facially and verbally responsive for at least six weeks.  The gurgles, coos and smiles that melt your heart usually don’t emerge until your little bundle of joy is six weeks or older.  Getting this brief feedback from your baby is extremely rewarding and more than makes up for many of the stressful moments of new parenthood.  Just don’t hold your breath from the beginning because it takes a little time for these adorable sounds and expressions to arrive.

Your parenting style will differ from what you expect.  It’s great to consider the type of parent you want to be before your baby arrives, but a lot of flexibility is required in your parenting style.  Without having been in a parents’ shoes before, you really don’t know how you will respond and what you will want for your child.  And your baby will also dictate much of what she requires from you as well.  Your personal parenting style will evolve along with your child and you’ll make decisions that are right for you and your family in each new phase of parenthood.

The newborn stage is fleeting so embrace both the joys and the challenges because it will all be over before you know it.