There's always so much to do getting ready to welcome a new life into the world!
The most essential aspect of preparing to nurse is confidence and a good support structure. Nothing extra is necessary but sometimes a few supplies might help.
Nipple butter for sore nipples
Breast pump (if you plan to store milk)
Milk storage bottles or bags
Support nursing pillow - like a Boppy Pillow
Make your intention to breastfeed known, some parents do not want their baby to feed from bottle. Ensure that your medical team and family are aware of your decisions.
Build nursing into your delivery plan and try to get baby to latch as soon as possible. Initiating breast/chest feeing within the first hour after delivery is ideal. If that is impossible ask for a breast pump or begin hand expressing colostrum.
You have probably noticed your breast changing physically to prepare for your baby's arrival.
You are a beautiful, unique person and every baby is unique - there is no perfect system - find the one that works for you and your little one. Trust your intuition!
Your baby needs to latch on to your breast and begin to suckle to effectively breast/chest feed. The latch is the most important aspect of nursing.
Some babies are not born knowing how to properly do this, there is a learning curve that you and your newborn will have to work through.
Choose a position that is comfortable for you and hold your baby to your body.
If you baby is struggling with a deep latch, be sure baby's head is tilted back, baby is positioned in a straight line and that baby is close to your body. Position baby so that their nose is at your nipple. The Montgomery's glands on your areola secrete a smell to help baby find you. Touching baby's nose to your nipple can stimulate the rooting reflex (an inherent newborn reflex that continues until about 4 months of age). When baby opens wide, pull them close and relax your shoulders.
With luck and practice your baby will properly latch eventually and their sucking reflex will kick in.
(it took Sara 3 months before her son actually latched properly... let that sink in... 90 unsuccessful days - be persistent and keep trying.)
Once you have achieved a good latch baby will suckle and fall into a proper breathe, suckle, swallow pattern.
Celebrate this small victory - it will be easier after that.
Your body began producing colostrum in your second trimester. You have have noticed colostrum dripping from your nipple. Colostrum can appear yellowish, creamy or even clear.
Known as liquid gold colostrum is nutrient rich blend of proteins, vitamins and minerals specifically formulated to cultivate a healthy gut flora for your baby. It is so densely packed, your baby need only about a teaspoon of colostrum at each feeding in the first couple of days of life.
Colostrum will begin to transition in the first few days following delivery. This transitional milk still has some of those liquid gold but also has more lactose, fat and calories that baby needs for development. Transitional milk typically lasts for a week or two.
After your milk has fully transitioned into mature milk it will be packed all with nutrients and calories that your baby needs. Provided you are producing a full supply, there is no need to offer your baby anything else.
Breast/chest fed babes are typically fed on demand. Don't worry about overfeeding your baby. With a good latch and full supply, your baby is able to choose if they want to get milk, or want to comfort suckle. Feeding patterns are different from baby to baby, don't compare yourself to others.
Your body actually knows the correct amount and composition for your baby at your baby's developmental stage. You will know when your baby is hungry and you will feed your baby - it can be that simple.
Since you can't actually see or quantify how much baby is consuming you may have concerns about baby getting enough milk.
Check the diaper! Bowel movements are important and also tell you how baby is doing. Keep track or wet or soiled diapers and discuss with your pediatrician or lactation consultant if you are concerned.
Weight gain is a good indication that baby is thriving. The first few days out of the womb your baby may loose a couple ounces, this is normal, but that trend should not continue. Typically, you baby should be back to birth weight by two weeks of age and steadily put on about five or six ounces (give or take an ounce) every week.
Babies can't talk yet, but there are many cues that your little one is satisfied and satiated. A happy and content baby is generally a well fed baby.
If your babe is fussing or frantically sucking fingers, clothes or whatever else feels like a latch - offer your breast again. Baby may just have a touch of colic or some gas, but better to check in.
Check in with your lactation consultant if you are still concerned. You can also try to pump and bottle feed to determine the exact amount your are feeding if that might ease your mind. Lactation consultants are specifically trained to recognize problems and offer solutions to breast/chest feeding issues and insecurities.
Once you have found your own rhythm it will be easier to continue. Challenges in the process are inevitable. Somedays you'll want to quit. Never quit on a bad day. Bad days come and go.
Once you have found your own rhythm it will be easier to continue.
Challenges in the process are inevitable. Some days you will want to quit.