Five Tips Friday: Breastfeeding a newborn

I breastfed my son into toddlerhood, but at the time he was born, it seemed like it wouldn't work for us at all. I fell for the misconception that 'breastfeeding comes naturally' and nothing could go wrong. It isn't that easy, especially if it's your first time. We had latch issues and it took many stressful days for us to actually get the hang of it.

I also made the mistake, like many first-time moms do, of focusing on labour and birth (which didn't go as planned either, but that's a different story). I didn't research enough on breastfeeding and taking care of a newborn. Suddenly, I had a hungry baby who wouldn't take his feed. With little support at hand, we somehow managed to get it right, but I know many moms give up because they just don't know what to do.

It's not that formula isn't an option if required, but for the first six months of a baby's life, breastmilk is undeniably beneficial. So, it's worth the effort to do all you can to succeed at breastfeeding your newborn baby.

Five essential tips for breastfeeding a newborn baby
Photo: jpedraza / Pixabay

Here are my tips for breastfeeding your newborn, and developing a successful breastfeeding relationship with your baby:

1. Plan for help, just in case

Have a Lactation Consultant on speed dial if you have to! Don't forget to ask your doctor if they provide an LC, and if not, arrange for someone on standby. Also ask the hospital if they provide breast pumps if required, otherwise borrow one from a friend or buy a manual pump just in case the baby doesn't take to the breast. Some of the common problems with early breastfeeding are flat nipples, blocked ducts, wrong positioning, toungue- or lip-tie, and thrush. A qualified LC can help with all of these. Check La Leche League for support available in your area.

2. Look for hunger cues

Crying is the last sign of hunger in a newborn. Some early signs are rooting and sucking hands. If you feed your baby when they show these signs, they will settle down more easily and sleep better. Generally, they will feed better too. It can be difficult to breastfeed a frantically hungry baby. See this article on Kellymom (another good resource) for details on hunger cues.

3. Trust your supply

There will be times when you will begin to doubt if you are producing enough breastmilk to satisfy your baby's hunger. Don't worry, these are just growth spurts. Babies during the growth spurt stage (which may happen around the 6 week and 12 week mark) seem to feed more often than usual. The best way to deal with this is to feed your baby on demand, and your supply will automatically catch up. About 90 per cent of breastfeeding mothers have enough supply to meet their baby's demands.

4. Don't worry about schedules

A newborn can't always feed on schedule. Apart from the growth spurts, they are still adjusting to life outside the womb. I breastfed on demand from the beginning, and found myself feeding every hour, even though there are babies who can go for two or three hours without a feed. There is no 'right' number. The frequency of feeding depends on your baby's size and many other factors. If they have reflux (which itself can cause breastfeeding problems), they can't have too much in a go. Don't compare or look at charts. Even your doctor can't tell you how often to feed your baby - only your baby can!

5. Take care of yourself

Your baby deserves a well-rested mother. Worrying about breastfeeding itself can have an impact on your supply. Try to stay calm and let nature do its job by releasing relaxing oxytocin when you breastfeed. Eat well (don't go on a diet, just yet), and take care of yourself.

While it does happen easily for some moms, breastfeeding can be a challenge for others. Don't be afraid to seek the right support. And if you find yourself unable to cope, move on to pumping or formula. You'll still be a good mother!

Five Tips Friday is a series of posts on five quick tips 
about parenting, blogging, social media, travel, or just about anything!

This post is a part of The Seasons of Motherhood Blog Hop on Dirt and Boogers.
Visit Amanda's wonderful blog for more stories on motherhood.

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Nina G said...

I learned the second time around not to feed a newborn on a schedule and instead feed on demand. I think as newborn parents you think you're going to miss the window to implement a routine when you feed on demand, but really newborns still don't have any sort of routine. So if a newborn is crying, most of the time it's not because of a wet diaper or they're hot or what have you. They're hungry! :)

Tarana said...

Newborns are hungry all the time! I'm glad you agree. It's only following my newborn's cues that helped me get through it all.

Tasneem Rajkotwala said...

Agree with you Tarana! The initial days are so overwhelming as a new mom and with everything that is going around us, it is very important to take care of ourselves! A happy mom leads to a happy baby. Even though I attended a consultation programme on Breastfeeding before delivery, I forgot everything about it once Little A was born. It is only a first hand experience which teaches you and brings you to reality. Great tips!

Victoria Welton said...

I wish I had had this when I was feeding Grace. Great tips - hopefully I can put them into practice again. Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo x

Tarana said...

The benefits of breastfeeding really make it worth it, and it's great that it worked for you!

Tarana said...

Yes, nothing quite matches the actual feeling of holding your baby!

Tarana said...

Thanks Vicky!

Chris Carter said...

Those are wonderful tips Tarana. I breastfed both my kids for the first year, and the firstborn and first try was BRUTAL!! But i am SO glad I stuck with it. So many benefits to nursing- and it's FREE!!

Kristi - Finding Ninee said...

I had a hard time for the first week and am so happy that I didn't give up. These tips are wonderful!

TheMissusV said...

Great tips Tarana! My mom told me the same things when I was still breastfeeding!

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