One of the things that really stressed me out when I first started my motherhood journey was breastfeeding. I can still remember vividly how hard I tried to hold my tears in the breastfeeding class on the first day of my hospitalization, when I just gave birth to Alex three years ago.
It was really hard and frustrating for me. Alex refused to latch on for three days and he slept most of the time. He practically had zero intake for three days. No breast milk, no formula, and no water. On the forth day, he started to have jaundice and became very sleepy. Hubby and I had to wake him up for feeding every two hours. Sometimes, he was so sleepy and refused to wake up until we had to take off his clothes and splashed cold water on him. And it took two weeks for him to be able to breastfeed regularly.
I fully breastfed Alex for nine months. I wished I can breastfeed him longer, but unfortunately I had mastitis and was advised to stop breastfeeding by my gynecologist.
It was a journey full of challenges, but it was worth it, I must say. I hope that this sharing on breastfeeding will be useful and helpful for many mothers. And if you ever wonder why I wanted to breastfeed my children so badly, you can read my previous post, Why I Breastfeed My Children.
TIPS ON BREASTFEEDING
- Read books or watch videos about breastfeeding, especially on how to latch on properly. With a proper latch on, it’ll help you avoid common problems like sore nipples, engorgement, and insufficient milk supply later on.
- Start applying nipple cream to prevent dryness and itchiness.
- You might want to stand by Fenugreek or Organic Mother’s Milk to increase breast milk production, if needed.
The 1st Hour
- Nurse baby immediately after labor, when his rooting and sucking reflexes are very strong. Baby’s suckling can stimulate the flow of nutritious colostrum, which is packed with immunoglobulins, antibodies, protein, minerals, and vitamins.
- “Place baby chest to chest, he recognizes you through your smell and his instinct to suckle is stimulated.” Kang Phaik Gaik, senior parentcraft and lactation consultant at Mount Alvernia Hospital.
First 3 Days
- Do not panic if your breasts aren’t brimming with milk during the first few days after delivery.
- Nurse baby frequently, about 2-3 hourly to stimulate more milk flow. It is better to keep baby in your room on day time during hospitalization, so you can monitor his intake closely and wake him up if he sleeps more than 4 hours during the day.
- Make sure that baby is latching on properly. If you experience pain or discomfort throughout each feeding, it means that your baby latches on wrongly, sucking on your nipple without getting much of your areola in the mouth. In that case, do not be hesitate to stop the feeding session and re-position you baby, otherwise you’ll have sore and cracked nipples in no time.
- Get as much as help from the hospital’s in-house lactation consultants, if you have any doubts or difficulties.
First To Third Month
- Try to latch on directly in the first three months, so that you can establish a good supply of breast milk.
- Baby may experience growth spurt around week 2, 3 and 6. Do not be alarm if he suddenly appear hungry and demand to be nursed every 1-2 hours.
- Average nursing time can last from 30-45 minutes per session. If baby falls asleep during halfway feeding, gently wake him up by patting his chin or tickling his feet.
- Even though it might sound impossible, try to get enough of rest/sleep, drink plenty of water/soup, and don’t get too stressed out because all these things will affect your milk production.
- Signs of well-fed baby:
- Look content after feeding.
- Pass clear urine 6-8 times/day and loose stools 3-5 times/day after the first week.
- His stools change from black to greenish-yellowish color on 4th 0r 5th day.
- Gain 150g-200g each week by the end of Week 2. However, it is perfectly normal for babies to lose an average 7-8 percent of his birth weight in the first week.
Forth To Sixth Month
- CONGRATULATION! You’ve made it so far =D
- By now, baby is likely to be able to bring out milk faster and more efficiently. So do not be surprised if baby only breastfeed for 10-15 minutes per session.
- Watch out for blocked ducts and mastitis, especially if you start pumping out milk because at the beginning, you may not be pumping out milk efficiently.
- If you are going back to work, start getting used to the breast pump and introducing baby to the bottle a month before. You can consider to invest in a good electric breast pump.
Sixth to Twelve Month
- Don’t be surprise if your milk supply drop at this stage. Baby might need less milk now because he starts taking solid.
- Continue offering breast milk because it’ll help him to digest his food faster and provides nutritional support at this developmental stage.
- If baby’s no longer interested in nursing, sneak breast milk into his food or cereal.
Common problems that may occur during breastfeeding:
- Sore and cracked nipples.
- Apply nipple cream or breast milk on your nipples after breastfeeding, and air dry before you wear your bra.
- Ensure baby latches well. He should take in as much breast tissue as possible.
- Gently insert your little finger into the side of baby’s mouth to break the suction, if you want to discontinue breastfeeding.
- Avoid using soap to clean the nipples because it can be drying.
2. Engorged breasts.
- Express a few drops of milk out before nursing to soften the areola. This will help baby to latch on better.
- Apply chilled cabbage leaves or an ice pack on the engorged breast for 30-60 minutes.
- Nurse frequently.
3. Blocked ducts.
- Nurse frequently. If baby doesn’t want to nurse, pump out the excess milk.
- Use warm compresses or hot towel. Massage and press hard on the area when baby nurses to clear the blocked duct.
- Ensure baby empties the breasts, which should feel softer after each feeding.
- Express milk in a clean environment, using clean breast pump as infection can occur when germs are introduced into the milk ducts.
You might want to safe these breastfeeding hotlines for future use:
- Mount Alvernia Parentcraft Centre: (+65) 6347 6641
- Breastfeeding Mother’s Support Group: (+65) 6339 3558
PS. Some of the information was taken from Young Parents magazine.