Almost every woman desires to have a baby and give them the best possible care. From the period of pregnancy to when the baby is born, and after that, the mother does everything in her power to ensure the baby receives excellent care.
Shortly after childbirth, breastfeeding starts and continues for quite some time. The baby relies primarily on the breastmilk for the nutrients needed for proper growth and development. Through breastfeeding, the baby’s risk of stomach infections, ear infections, asthma, diabetes, or the flu is lowered. For the mother, however, the breastfeeding process can be quite challenging. For example, before she leaves the hospital, it’s possible for her nipples to already be sore and chapped from breastfeeding the newborn. Studies by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that although 79% of mothers breastfeed their babies after childbirth, only 49% still do so after six months. This is despite the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that exclusive breastfeeding last for at least six months.
In light of challenges that accompany breastfeeding, here are some tips to help mothers during the nursing period;
- Before the birth of the baby
During the pregnancy period, it is essential to take steps to prepare yourself for breastfeeding. You could meet with lactation consultants or nursing experts to share tips that will help you prepare for your baby-breastfeeding. An added benefit is that when you run into challenges after the baby has arrived, you can always reach out to them for counsel.
Another thing that helps is seeing nursing mothers do their thing. You could always watch a friend who is a nursing mother or attend breastfeeding support group meetings to see mothers breastfeeding their babies. Seeing it being done is a great way to learn.
- In the hospital
When you run into any challenge in the hospital, call the nurse, doctor or lactation expert for help. Do not try to figure it out on your own. If for some reason, you feel something is not right, speak up. Ensure you nurse your baby after birth as soon as it is possible to do so and try to avoid baby formula at first. Make sure the baby is first comfortable with breastmilk.
- The first few weeks
When feeding, your baby may continue to suck on your breast for longer than you expect. Do not be in a hurry to get the baby off. Instead, you could switch the first breast for the second one. Some babies take both when feeding.
Within the first month, you should not use pacifiers for the baby because it can suppress the hunger cues of the baby and reduce the time the baby spends at your breast. However, after the first month, offer the baby a pacifier. After some months, you would find that weaning kids off their pacifier is also necessary. Offer the feeding bottle within the first four to six weeks to avoid the risk of outright refusal by the child.
When breastfeeding the baby, it helps to lie on your side because that posture lets you rest your lower back and shoulders.