Tips for Breastfeeding Success
August 1, 2016
As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, we want to give you tips for breastfeeding success. As a mom of three, I have nursed all of my babies, which was quite the accomplishment. Nursing did not come easy for me with my first, my second or even my third. If I were to do it again with all three of my babies, I wish someone would have shared with me these six tips:
1. Examine Your Nipples
I know this sounds strange to suggest, but your baby’s mouth will be using your nipples to latch and eat from eventually. You’ll need to know how to help them with that latch, so you’ll want to know your nipple types before nursing. Women who have inverted or flat nipples will have a harder time with a latch.
To test your nipples to see if they are flat or inverted, try this simple 2-step test while pregnant:
- Hold your breast at the edge of the areola between your thumb and index finger.
- Press in gently but firmly about an inch behind your nipple. If your nipple protrudes, that’s great.
If it does not protrude or become erect, it is considered flat. If it retracts or disappears, it is truly inverted. If you have flat or inverted nipples, this is knowledge you’ll want to research while pregnant and be sure to discuss with a lactation consultant when you are at the hospital when you delver. Nursing can be difficult to learn, and with flat and inverted nipples, it can make it even more difficult. You will want to learn how to draw your nipples out to help your baby latch.
2. Take a Nursing Class
Many hospitals that have a maternity ward may also offer classes such as childbirth and breastfeeding classes. Many future parents most likely can see the benefit of a childbirth class, but many do not realize the benefit of a breastfeeding class.
Breastfeeding classes give you a great overview of both skills and knowledge that will help when you begin nursing. With the class I took they even had dolls we used to practice the different types of nursing holds, which may sound silly, but it was really helpful. They also give you great information on what you can expect to happen when your milk comes in and how to take care of yourself when you are nursing.
3. Learn About Breast Infections from Nursing
Unfortunately, there are infections that can come from nursing. If you learn about these infections prior to nursing, you’ll know what symptoms to look out for, so you can treat them early before they get worse.
One of the most common nursing infections is mastitis, which is a painful infection of the breast tissue. It can come from blocked milk ducts or bacteria entering the breast. It usually occurs within the first three months of breastfeeding. (Via)
Symptoms of mastitis include:
- Breast pain
Your breast may also be red, tender, hard to the touch or unusually warm. If you think you have mastitis, call your OBGYN immediately, as the infection needs to be treated with antibiotics.
Thrush is another common infection many women deal with while nursing. Thrush is a yeast infection in a baby’s mouth that can affect your nipples when breastfeeding. Symptoms of thrush are itchy, pink, red, shiny or burning nipples. Another symptom is deep, shooting breast pain during or after feedings. If you think you have thrush, contact your healthcare provider for treatment. Thrush should only take a few days to cure if the treatment is effective and/or aggressive. However, you and your baby need to be treated at the same time.
4. Buy Helpful Nursing Accessories
While you are pregnant, buy nursing accessories that will help you nurse easier and have them ready for when your baby is here. Some women don’t think they will need some of these accessories right away, but once that baby is here, they will be ready to eat, so you’ll want them. Some accessories we’ve found to be helpful for nursing moms:
- Nursing pillow
- Breast pump (Check with your health insurance first- some cover breast pumps)
- Lanolin cream
- Breast pads
- Nipple shield
These items will help your comfort level and to help you continue nursing.
5. Use the Lactation Consultant at the Hospital
Most hospitals have a lactation consultant on-staff that will help you with nursing. Once your baby is born, make sure your nurse knows that you want to meet with the consultant. Any chance you get, let the lactation consultant come and observe how you are nursing. She will be able to help you and provide instruction to make your nursing experience better.
Ask her as many questions you have about anything at all related to nursing. They are also available after you go home for consultation.
For many new moms, this last tip is probably the most difficult. For many, nursing can be difficult. But, you will get the hang of it if you and baby keep persevering together. Once you start a nursing session, be sure to allow yourself to take some deep breathes, sit comfortably, and do something that you enjoy while watching your baby. Listen to soft music, listen to an audiobook or watch a favorite show on Netflix that makes you smile. The point is that you want to try and relax and make nursing a good experience for both you and baby.
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