The irony of that title is that breastfeeding (BF) is anything but basic (at least in my experience it was anything but). In the the wonderful world of nutrition we like to say “breast is best” and, while I actually think that providing any type of sustenance for your sprout in their first year of life is best, BF is a pretty good way to get it done.
For new moms, BF can be a huge hurdle to leap over in those first few days (or weeks or months) of your baby’s life (more on my experience with that later). Today we’re going to discuss the basics of how to do it and why to do it. AND, lest you bottle feeders feel guilty, I’ll do a post on the benefits of bottle feeding in the near future, so stay tuned and put your guilt on a shelf in the back corner of a dark closet!
- The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend BF as the best source of infant nutrition
- Provides antibodies to baby
- Decreases baby’s risk of ear infections and respiratory infections
- Decreases risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Cost-effective (AKA lots cheaper than formula)
- Maternal-infant bonding
- Health benefits for mother including: weight loss, reducing risk of breast/ovarian cancer, aids in contraction of uterus back to normal size
- Composition changes as baby grows providing optimal nutrition in each stage of life
- Convenient (debatable in my opinion-but I guess technically you can feed your baby anywere, like the beach (see above) or the rodeo (not that I’ve ever done that…) without mixing up a bottle)
STEPS FOR SUCCESS
- Take a class. Classes may be offered through your hospital, doctor’s office, or local WIC clinic. Also, look into lactation consultants in your area for extra support
- Seek support from friends and family. Especially those women who have been there, done that. Their tips and tricks may be useless but they may also be game-changing.
- Try feeding your infant as soon as possible after birth. The sooner your little one latches on the easier BF should be (theoretically).
- Make yourself comfortable. Baby’s can take a long time to eat so find a nice chair, grab a good book or pinterest, and settle in for some one-on-one time with baby. Use pillows as needed for support for you or baby.
- Try a variety of holds. There are several ways to hold your baby when BF. What works for one person may not work for another so if what you’re trying isn’t working, try something else!
- Work on proper latch. Without proper latching, BF can be a painful experience. Baby should be facing you, tummy-to-tummy so their head/neck doesn’t have to turn to feed. Baby’s mouth should be open wide and covering most of the lower areola (dark area around the nipple). Tongue should be over the bottom gum. Head should be back slightly, not tucked into the neck (try drinking a water bottle with your head back compared to your head tucked in and you’ll understand). Lips should be flanged out like if they were trying to eat a triple-triple from In-N-Out vs. pursed like drinking from a straw.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You aren’t the only person who has ever struggled with BF so don’t be embarrassed to seek assistance.
- If it doesn’t go smoothly the first time or even the 20th time, keep trying as long as you feel comfortable. However, have a backup plan and don’t feel ashamed to use it. BF is fantastic and great for your baby, but feeding and taking care of your baby is also great, no matter how you accomplish it.
So, those are the basics of BF. Stay tuned for a BF story as well as a post on my BF must-haves. If you have any questions, be sure to comment below or shoot us an e-mail! Happy nursing!