How to Breastfeed your Baby

Parenting
December 1992
Nutan Pandit

GROWING UP: PREGNANCY AND BIRTH

 Most new mothers are convinced that breastfeeding will give their babies emotional, psychological and physiological benefits and many new mothers set out to feed them the natural way. But often they are dismayed to discover how difficult this seems. Sometimes both mother and baby have to learn the right breastfeeding techniques. To make matters worse, when new mothers look for help with nursing, they get conflicting advice from friends and relations.

 

With the right information and emotional support, mothers are finding that breastfeeding needn’t be a bewildering task and some even count it as one of the greatest joys of motherhood.

 

Breastfeeding

 

A very important contribution to successful breastfeeding is that the mother be mentally prepared for it. You should have a positive attitude and want to breastfeed. Also you need to organize extra help since feeding a baby round the clock can be physically taxing. If a mother is tense, it can affect the flow of milk, so you should arrange to be with a close family member who you are relaxed with. Also, your husband can ease the load by helping with house chores and being less demanding.

 

A woman needs to physically prepare herself for breastfeeding by toughening her nipples so that they do not get sore or cracked when feeding. From the sixth month of pregnancy, while taking a bath, the tips of the nipples should be cleaned with a dry towel. Then both nipples should be held, much like a cigarette, and pulled outward, then retracted towards the breast. This should be repeated about a hundred times daily. In case of flat or retracted nipples, that is when the nipples do not project outwards well enough to be held, you can ask your husband to suck on them daily.

Alternately, the areola – the dark area around the nipples – can be pulled back with your finders. Finally, hold the areola between your thumb and the index finger and press twice. At times when you press the areola, you will notice a few drops of fluid. This is colostrums, the secretion of which is normal (in case you do not notice any secretion, don’t worry, it will appear gradually over the weeks). On completing this routine, a thin film of coconut oil should be applied to the nipple and areola.

 

After a normal delivery, the baby can be fed within the first hour following birth, and after an operating delivery, four hours later. The baby should be fed as soon as possible and naturally. Strictly forbid the bottle being given to your baby. During the first few days, put the baby to the breast for at least 10-15 minutes on each side. The more the baby suckles, the more efficient will be the establishment of your milk supply. Feed your baby as and when he demands a feed. If you start one feed from the right breast, start the next one from the left one. This will ensure equal emptying of both breasts.

 

After the birth of the baby, milk does not come into the breast immediately – it may take two to three or a few more days. In the meanwhile, clear yellowish colostrums is secreted by the breast. When the baby is fed colostrums, certain hormones are released in the mother that encourage the milk supply to set in. This also provides an opportunity for the baby to learn to suck at the breast before the milk comes in. when the milk does come in a few days later, the breast gets hard, full and sensitive for 24 to 48 hours. If you try to put your baby to breast for the first time at this stage, it will be a painful experience. A baby who is put on the bottle until the milk comes has to learn the differences between sucking from a bottle as opposed to sucking from the breast. The bottle provides a baby with constant drops of milk, whereas at the breast the baby has to work his jaw and tongue vigorously for each sip.

 

Around the areola there are little prominences called Montgomery’s tubercles which secrets a lubricant. However, as a result of bathing with soap and water this gets washed away. Therefore, a thin film of coconut oil should be applied on the nipple and areola. Before the next feed, clean the nipple and areola with a small piece of cotton socked in boiled water, keep bits of cotton socked in a covered bowl of water. Use a fresh piece of cotton for each breast. You will not only be wiping away the oil but also stale breast milk and perspiration.

 

When you feed the baby, the breast should fall towards the baby. If it falls away, it will require the baby to pull at the nipple and cause soreness or cracks in the nipples. The baby can be fed while you are lying down or sitting. If you are sitting, use your arm to support the baby.

 

If you touch your baby’s cheek with your breast, he will automatically turn his head towards that breast and open his mouth to feed. Put the nipple and the areola into the mouth of the baby. As his gums press on the areola, the nipple gets extended back towards the baby’s gullet and the baby’s tongue ‘milks’ it by pressing it against the roof of his mouth or palate. If the baby ‘munches’ on the nipple instead of the areola, it will hurt you. If this happens you should break the baby’s suck by inserting a finger into the corner of his mouth or by pulling his chin down. Thereafter, put in more of the breast so that the baby gets a good hold and his gums press on the areola and not on the nipple. Since the baby has to ‘munch’ for each sip of milk, his jaw development improves. Also it makes it possible for the baby to pause just to breathe or look around.

 

Nutan Pandit is a childbirth counselor and holds classes at Natural Childbirth Centre in Delhi. She is the author of ‘Pregnancy’ and has published several articles on natural childbirth.

Nutan Pandit
Natural Childbirth Center

Phone:  +91-11-24601689, +91-11-24690552, +91-11-41551662, +91-9910210409

Email:  info@ncbchildbirth.com; nutan@ncbchildbirth.com

Address: C-407, Defence Colony GF, New Delhi-110024, India

Address From November 2017: D-178, Defence Colony GF, New Delhi-110024, India

Your body is designed to give birth . . . 
Have Faith In It

Nutan Pandit
Natural Childbirth Center

Phone:  +91-11-24601689, +91-11-24690552, +91-11-41551662, +91-9910210409

Email:  info@ncbchildbirth.com; nutan@ncbchildbirth.com

Address: C-407, Defence Colony GF, New Delhi-110024, India

Address From November 2017: D-178, Defence Colony GF, New Delhi-110024, India

Your body is designed to give birth . . . 
Have Faith In It

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