In our society, where women are still being reprimanded for breastfeeding in public, learning how to nurse is unfortunately not part of our cultural knowledge. Breastfeeding may be the most natural way to feed your baby, but it is still a learned skill. Most hospitals and birth centers offer breastfeeding classes free of charge to pregnant moms. Make sure to take advantage of this opportunity where you can learn about correct latch, positioning and other breastfeeding tips.
After your baby arrives, make sure you have a certified lactation consultant available to help you get breastfeeding off to the right start. Many hospitals and birth centers have lactation consultants available on staff, but bringing in your own consultant is okay too. Your lactation consultant will help you to guide your baby properly onto the nipple, adjust your latch, achieve proper positioning and problem-solve any challenges that may arise. All of these are very important to the development of a successful breastfeeding relationship.
Remember that while you are nursing, your body will require a lot more water than usual. Make sure to stay well hydrated and follow your thirst. A good rule of thumb is to keep a tall glass of water next to your nursing station so you can grab a drink at a moment's notice.
Skip the schedules and nurse on demand. In order to establish your milk supply and a successful breastfeeding relationship, it is best to follow your baby's hunger patterns. Newborn babies will root, fuss and try to suckle almost anything when they are hungry. They often feed up to 12 times in a 24 hour period. By simply watching for hunger signs and nursing when your baby is ready, your body will adjust to accommodate the needs of your baby as your milk comes in.
Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable during the first few weeks as your nipples adjust to constant suckling. Lanolin cream can do wonders to soothe sore or cracked nipples. Gently dab a little on after each nursing session. It is completely safe for baby and will greatly speed up the healing process.
However, if you experience anything beyond mild discomfort, it is best to call in professional help. Even if you got off on the right foot with your breastfeeding relationship, it is not uncommon to develop a minor breastfeeding challenge, which can be easily corrected with the help of a certified lactation consultant. Check with the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants and find a consultant near you.
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