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Breastfeeding tips for new moms: Common breastfeeding questions answered by a Certified Lactation Counsellor

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Today I would like to introduce Rachel Da Silva, a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counsellor, mum and founder of Mommy Did You Know. She will be sharing her breastfeeding tips for new moms.

You can also read about the most common breastfeeding mistakes and how to fix them, a mum’s personal experience and tips for breastfeeding around the world, and breastfeeding essentials for new mums.

Breastfeeding tips for new moms

The birth of a baby is such an exciting time for a new family. However, it also comes with a lot of questions. As a nurse and lactation counsellor, my patients are always asking me questions about breastfeeding, newborn care, and postpartum care. In this article, I am going to share my breastfeeding tips and tricks and answer the most common breastfeeding questions.

How often do newborns eat?

While breastfeeding, it is best to look at your baby rather than a clock. Watch for your baby’s ‘feeding cues’ and respond when she starts showing early hunger signs. It is always best to feed your baby in the first stages of hunger, rather than waiting for her to start crying. Early stages include rooting, hand to mouth movements, sucking, and rapid eye movement while sleeping. Skin to skin is a wonderful way to be close to your baby and get to learn her individual feeding cues. Rooming-in with your baby will also drastically improve your chances of exclusively breastfeeding in those first few difficult days after delivery.

It is expected a newborn will feed about every 2 to 3 hours for about 15 minutes. To increase and protect your milk supply, try to rotate the breast you start with, and offer both breasts with each feed. If your baby has not eaten for 3 to 4 hours, and is still sound asleep, you need to wake your baby up. Breastmilk provides the energy your baby needs to transition to new life. Waiting too long to feed your baby can lead to low blood sugars, high bilirubin levels, and difficulty transitioning to life outside the uterus.

How do I breastfeed my baby?

The first step in any breastfeeding session is to observe your baby. Follow her hunger cues and initiate a feed as necessary. Try to check her diaper and put her skin to skin with you. This stimulates the baby and helps with milk release. As you hold her newborn skin to skin, the hand massaging the breast stimulates a hormone called ‘oxytocin”. This hormone is what causes milk to be released from the breast.

To latch your baby, first put her ‘tummy-to-tummy’ as you stay skin to skin. Express a little colostrum on your nipple and attempt to latch ‘nose-to-nipple’. As your baby smells the colostrum, she will open her mouth wide. As she opens, you can bring her to your breast for the feed. Keep in mind your baby comes to the breast. You do not want to get into the habit of bringing the breast to your baby. The key is to make sure you have a deep latch, with a nice wide gape of the mouth.

How do I know my baby is eating enough?

There is no indicator to see how much milk is being transferred, so you must be very observant to feel confident your baby is eating enough. One way you can know is by the diaper changes. The first day, you just need one wet and one dirty diaper. If your baby has more, great! However, most paediatricians want to make sure you hit the minimum of one. The second day you should have two wet and dirty diapers, and the third day is three wet and dirty diapers. After the third day, your baby should have about 3 to 5 wet and dirty diapers daily.

Another way is noticing how much weight your baby is gaining or losing. It is normal to lose up to 7 to 10% of her birth weight as your baby loses excess amniotic fluid. Your baby should start gaining again after the first week. It is very important to follow up with your paediatrician to make sure your baby is gaining weight appropriately. If your baby is losing too much weight, or your paediatrician has concerns about your baby’s intake, make sure to schedule an appointment with a lactation specialist. I offer online consultations to go over all your feeding questions.

What should I do for a painful latch?

Some discomfort on latching is normal the first few days. However, if your nipples are cracked, bleeding, and blistered this indicates an improper latch. Soreness is expected the first few days, and even when your baby first latches on. If your pain lasts more than a few seconds after she latches on, or you feel pinching while breastfeeding, you may need to change your breastfeeding technique a little bit.

Make sure to have your baby in a proper position, tummy to tummy and skin to skin. During the latch process, ensure your baby opens her mouth nice and wide. Your baby should be on the areola (the dark part) of the breast, and not only the nipple. In fact, one way you can tell if your baby is latched appropriately is by observing the shape of your nipple after the feed. Your nipple should have the same shape before and after the feed. If your nipple is squished and pointy at the end like a tube of lipstick, your latch might need to be changed a bit.

If you have pain and soreness, you can express a little of your colostrum on the nipple and let it air dry without clothes for about 10 to 15 minutes. You can also use creams such as Lanolin and Mother Love Nipple Cream. Lansinoh and Medela also have amazing gel pads that you can apply for soreness.

What should I do if my baby does not want to breastfeed?

It is very normal for babies to be sleepy the first 12 to 24 hours after delivery. The first 2 hours, newborns are in their active phase. This is a great time to breastfeed and start bonding with your baby. After that, your baby kind of “hibernates” for 12 to 24 hours. Usually babies are very tired, and you need to wake your baby up to initiate feeds every 2 to 3 hours. If your baby does not latch, do not be discouraged. The first day really is for practice. Just attempt every 2 to 3 hours and express milk on the nipple. Manual (hand) expression of colostrum is sufficient for your baby in the first day. You can also hand express into a medicine cup and syringe feed your baby as necessary. Make sure to let your nurse know your baby is taking a little longer to transition to breastfeeding life. Many nurses have tips and tricks to show you.

If your newborn is still not latching after 24 hours, your nurse might start you pumping, and possibly offer supplementation. Mother’s expressed milk should be the first attempted supplementation for a newborn. However, colostrum is very thick. Do not be discouraged if a pump does not get anything out. Usually hand expression gets out a lot more than an electric or even manual hand pump. I do have online consultations you can take advantage of while you are in the hospital! Feel free to schedule a consultation, and I can show you how to manual express your colostrum.

Keep in mind if your baby is still not latching after the first day of life, your nurse might do extra tests to make sure your baby is not dehydrated. A sugar check will probably be the first one the nurse performs. You want your newborn’s sugar to be above 40. Whether your baby is feeding well or not, the nurse will do a bilirubin test for jaundice. The nurse just might do it a little earlier if your baby is not eating well. If the bilirubin ends up a little high, the nurse might put your baby under special lights, known as phototherapy. Remain open with your healthcare team to understand your care plan and expected follow up testing. If you have any questions at all, please schedule a visit and I will be happy to give you all my breastfeeding tips and tricks.

Who do I call when I need some help or have questions after discharge?

I am so excited to announce that in addition to all my free resources on Mommy Did You Know, I also have low-cost online consultations to go over all your questions and concerns. You can schedule a visit by phone, email, or through my website. My consultations are only $25 for 30 minutes via any video platform of your choosing. I also speak Spanish if needed. Students of my prenatal crash course even get 20% off their first visit with me. These visits are essential to start your baby off on the right foot. In addition to breastfeeding advice, I also offer consultations for pumping, going back to work, engorgement, bottle-feeding, transitioning to home, and more. It is best to start education during pregnancy, so feel free to schedule a visit for a personal prenatal class with me as well. Contact me for any questions, I would love to be a blessing to you and your family.

See more breastfeeding tips by a lactation counsellor.

About Rachel Da Silva and Mommy Did You Know

Mommy Did You Know specialises in mother and newborn care. The company was founded by Rachel Da Silva, RN, BSN, CLC. With a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Nursing from Florida Atlantic University in the United States of America, Rachel started her nursing career in the maternity unit of Memorial Hospital Miramar in 2013. Since then, she has transferred to Bethesda Hospital East in Boynton Beach, FL and has special training in Antepartum, Postpartum, Pediatrics, and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She also received special certification to become a Certified Lactation Counsellor (CLC) in January 2020. If you have further questions about breastfeeding, or to schedule a personalised low-cost consult, you can contact Rachel at Mommy Did You Know.

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