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Breastfeeding Basics: 8 Tips You Need To Know Before Giving Birth



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Like many new skills facing first-time mothers, breastfeeding is a learned ability that gets much easier with practice. Here are a few time-tested tips to make the transition easier.

1. Start Preparing Well Before Your Due Date: Educate yourself and consider attending classes offered by your hospital or birthing center months before delivery. La Leche League leader Wanda Daniels says attending an LLL meeting while pregnant answered many important questions and made her comfortable calling her own leader for support.

2. Some Discomfort Is Normal, But Help Is Available:  While your breasts may initially feel tender, they shouldn’t be consistently painful. Initial nipple discomfort is usually normal, but severe, ongoing soreness may indicate a problem. Certified lactation consultant and pediatric nurse Lucille Harrington says most problems can be fixed quickly, so moms needn't endure pain. Many hospitals and birthing centers offer telephone counseling or an in-person consultation with a lactation consultant. This service is usually free.

3. Find Ways To Lighten Your Load: Newborns typically nurse 8 to 12 times per day. Plus, experts recommend feeding your baby on cue at any sign of hunger. A nursing sling can be a great way to keep your baby close and allow you freedom, privacy, and mobility. Learning to nurse lying down can also help with nighttime feedings so you and baby can quickly return to sleep.

4. Avoid Assumptions: Many new mothers think that babies who want to nurse frequently aren’t getting enough milk, but this is rarely true. As long as your baby is producing at least 6-8 wet diapers and 2-3 daily bowel movements for the first few weeks after your milk comes in, he’s likely getting the nutrients he needs. Babies nurse for comfort as well as hunger. Frequent watery, mustard-colored bowel movements are normal and are not considered diarrhea. Consult an expert for reassurance if something doesn’t feel right.

5. Listen To Your Body’s Cues Of Hunger, Thirst, and Fatigue: Although your body has to work hard to produce milk, eating when hungry and drinking when thirsty will likely provide your body with enough fuel. Rest while your baby rests whenever possible.

6. Accept Help: Although many new moms are uncomfortable asking for or receiving help, Harrington urges parents to overcome these reservations. Don't be shy about addressing specific needs with requests like, "It would be wonderful if you could fold laundry." Involving partners and family members in your baby's care makes them feel included. When loved ones rock, bathe and sing to your baby, this teaches him that love and comfort do not always come from food.

7. Seek Out Reassurance From Supportive Experts: If you ever have doubts, seek advice from those knowledgeable about (and supportive of) breastfeeding. Advisors who assure you they “couldn’t breastfeed either” or that formula-fed babies are “easier” are not helpful when it’s likely you’re doing just fine.

8. Don’t Compare Your Experiences To Others: Keep in mind that babies, like adults, are all different. If a friend's baby is emptying the breast very quickly and sleeping through the night, this doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you or your baby if your experience is different.

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Tags: Health, Infant & Baby, Maternity, Parenting


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