Top Five Breastfeeding Concerns: Get Ready to Nurse Your Baby

Check for the wide-open mouth that means your baby is latched-on properly.  Image by Petr Kratochvil

Check for the wide-open mouth that means your baby is latched-on properly. Image by Petr Kratochvil

Your time is almost here – you’re ready to have your baby – but you may have concerns about nursing. Most Moms do; you’re not alone!

Some common breastfeeding worries are: What if my baby starts losing weight? How do I know if I’m making enough milk? What is engorgement, and what do I do about it? Does it hurt to nurse? Is my baby drinking enough? There are often easy answers to all of these concerns; don’t hesitate to check with a lactation consultant to get personal answers and even demonstrations of different techniques.

If you are experiencing extreme pain and discomfort, or your baby isn’t gaining weight as he should, make sure to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Post-Birth Weight Loss: It’s Natural

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s normal for a newborn to lose 7-10 % of her birth weight. She should regain this weight  within 10-12 days of birth; it may take up to 2 weeks for a premature infant to regain lost weight. Most mothers get large quantities of fluid through an IV during labor, which then goes to baby. Once born, the baby urinates the excess fluid, and loses 7-10% of her birth weight, so don’t worry too much if she loses a little bit of weight right after she’s born.

Baby’s Feeding Habits During First Few Days

During the first few days after birth, you’ll have a very special variety of milk, called “colostrum,” also known as “liquid gold.” Colostrum is called “liquid gold” because of its incredible immune system and nutritive boosters. Usually infants consume about a teaspoon of colostrum per nursing session – new moms don’t need to worry; it seems like a tiny amount, but this is normal. New infants have very small stomachs.

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Soreness from Nursing

Worried about feeling sore? Don’t stress – some soreness is normal during the early stages of breastfeeding. Express a little extra breastmilk after nursing, and allow it to dry on your skin. You can also use pure medical-grade lanolin, (there are also other moisturizing creams made for breastfeeding moms, but read the ingredients carefully to avoid chemicals and alcohol), which is made from sheep wool grease, and is an exceptional skin moisturizer, known for soothing cracked, dry, and sore skin. Do not use non-medical-grade lanolin, as it could make baby sick.

Solving Latch Problems

Nipple-only latch-on is very painful – baby’s not meant to nurse just from the nipple, but should take in the areola as well. If your baby tries to nurse just from your nipple, or there’s any other latching discomfort, it’s an easy problem to solve. Just put your index finger in the corner of Baby’s mouth to break the seal, and try again with the nipple further in baby’s mouth. Never pull your nipple out of Baby’s mouth without breaking the suction – not only will it really hurt, but it can also damage your breast tissue.

One good indication of proper latch is when the baby’s lips are around the areola, and not just the nipple. Also, your baby’s lower lip should not be tucked in.

Have a health care provider check for a frenulum ( tongue tie) if Baby consistently has trouble with latching.

Nursing Positions

If you do experience pain, it may be due to not having a deep enough latch, but sometimes it’s because your baby is turning her head too far to latch on properly. There are several nursing positions that provide comfort to both you and baby during nursing time – Medline Plus provides step-by-step directions in the resources below. When breastfeeding, try “Kangarooing,” also known as Tummy to Tummy – this means you and your baby are skin-to-skin.

Click to Read Page Two: Breast Engorgement and Swelling

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