My Kids Doc

Breastfeeding tips for nursing moms

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and there is a reason why health experts around the world promote breastfeeding as much as we do. Breast milk is the perfect food for babies. It provides optimal nutrition and hydration, provides immunity against a host of infections, promotes healthy brain development, and contributes to the emotional well-being of both mother and baby. With all of these benefits, it’s no wonder new moms are encouraged to breastfeed. While breastfeeding may come naturally to some mothers and babies, for others, it can take a while to get the hang of it. The following are a few tips to help make your breastfeeding journey a successful one:

Look for baby’s hunger cues: When a baby is hungry, he/she may root (or turn her head toward anything that brushes against his/her mouth or cheek), put his/her hands to his/her mouth or make sucking sounds. Look out for these cues, so you can breastfeed your baby before he/she starts to cry.

Get your baby into a breastfeeding position: Bring your baby close to you in whatever breastfeeding position is most comfortable for the both of you. You may have to try several positions before you find one that works best. Be sure to use a breastfeeding pillow for support and to prevent strain on your back or nipples.

Encourage a good latch: Hold your fingers in a V shape around (but not touching) your areola. Your baby’s lower lip should be well below the nipple, so that he/she gets a large mouthful of breast. Aim to get as much of the breast into the baby’s mouth as possible. A deep latch will help make sure your nipple is at the baby’s soft palate at the back of his/her mouth instead of his/her hard palate toward the front, which can cause discomfort. Look for swallowing movements and gulping sounds. These are signs that your baby has gotten a good latch.

Take care of your breasts: Painful breastfeeding means there’s a problem. For new moms, there may be some discomfort in the beginning upon latching, but the pain should not continue throughout the feeding. If you’re feeling pain after the first few minutes of breastfeeding, that’s a signal that something isn’t right. If your nipples are cracked, expressing a bit of breast milk — which has antimicrobial factors in it — can help. Lanoli-based nipple creams and emollients can also provide some relief. Warmth, swelling, and tenderness of the breast can be a sign of an infection called mastitis. It’s always best to check with your doctor to see if treatment is needed.

Seek support: Breastfeeding is challenging. New mothers often feel that their baby is attached to their breast all the time! Some have real challenges with breast milk production that can be distressing and overwhelming. Fortunately, there are a wealth of resources available to support mothers through this time. Pump your breast milk and enlist the help of dad, aunts, uncles and grandparents with feedings, so that you can get additional rest. Speak with your pediatrician or lactation consultant about strategies and supplements for increasing breast milk production.

Beware of breastfeeding bullies: Not all moms will be able to successfully breastfeed for any number of reasons. While it is important to try your best to provide breast milk for your baby, you never want to do so at the risk of your own mental or physical health. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel guilt or shame about not being able to breastfeed your baby when you know you’ve given it your best shot.

Remember that your pediatrician is a valuable resource in guiding you through your breastfeeding journey. Don’t be alarmed if at the office visit, they ask you to pop out a breast and demonstrate what breastfeeding looks like for you and your baby. It provides an opportunity to check the health of the breast, positioning and latch. Be sure to let your pediatrician know what challenges, if any, you’re having. We’re here to help you raise happy and healthy kids.

• Dr. Tamarra Moss is a pediatrician committed to helping you raise happy and healthy kids. You can find her at Dr. Carlos Thomas & Pediatric Associates in New Providence, Lucayan Medical Center in Grand Bahama, or on Instagram @mykidsdoc242.

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