Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What to Expect and Where to Find Help When Breastfeeding

You have decided to embark on the journey of breastfeeding but you have reservations. For a new mom, breastfeeding can be largely intimidating as it is completely foreign and you have no idea how your body will work and react. Are you going to be able to breastfeed? Is it going to hurt? What should you expect from baby? How can you be sure baby is getting what baby needs? These are all questions the new mom wants to find answers for due to navigating uncharted waters.

Is Breastfeeding a Real Possibility?
Simply put, breastfeeding is a commitment that you make to your baby and to yourself. Sometimes, it will be inconvenient and sometimes you might not want to deal with the round-the-clock feedings in the beginning or during grown spurts. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it and sleep whenever you can when baby feeds during the night. Nap when baby naps.

If you need help, look to your family and friends. They will be more than happy to help where they can, especially if they have kids and know exactly what you are going through. The only time you might not be able to breastfeed is if you are on antibiotics that could be harmful to baby, in which case if you want to breastfeed, your best course of action is to pump and dump in order to keep up your milk supply.

Does Breastfeeding Hurt?
The simple answer is no, it is not supposed to hurt. There are various reasons as to why breastfeeding might hurt, but when everything is normal and done correctly then no, breastfeeding does not hurt. There are only a handful of reasons that can cause pain while breastfeeding with the most common culprit being a bad latch from baby. If baby has a bad latch, what happens is that your nipple can rub up against the roof of baby’s mouth. This causes soreness, bleeding, and cracked nipples. If a bad latch is your problem, find a lactation consultant to talk to about what you need to do to fix the problem. Lactation consultants can be found through organizations like La Leche League or your local hospitals and birthing centers.

Other issues that can cause pain during breastfeeding include clogged milk ducts, yeast infections, or mastitis. Clogged milk ducts occur when milk is not expressed thoroughly and your milk builds up causing a clog. Clogged ducts are tender to the touch, and the best way to get them out is to massage the painful spot while baby nurses. Baby’s suction will help break up the clog and pull it out. Warm compresses can also help. If you think you have a yeast infection or mastitis, see your doctor as soon as possible to get it treated.

What is Expected in Breastfeeding?
For new moms, a learning curve is not uncommon, especially if you have to deal with anything that is not quite normal. C-sections, multiples, and premature births are all births that are considered outside of the norm. In a normal situation, once baby crosses the placenta, hormones are triggered that cause the release of colostrum from mommy’s breasts. Then baby latches on without any issue and ingests the colostrum to encourage the first bowel movement and to receive mommy’s antibodies. The only thing you may worry about is whether or not baby is getting enough milk. This can be done by weighing baby before and after feeding to see how much milk baby actually takes in. Scales that are sensitive for that purpose can be found at the doctor’s office or with a lactation consultant. Keep in mind that breastfeeding can be different and sometimes complicated whenever breastfeeding is combined with anything out of the norm.

What About Special Situations?
When you have a C-section, it is sometimes difficult to breastfeed due to the tenderness of the incision site.  As a result, you may have to learn alternative positions to hold baby in during feeding. The best position is what is called the football hold. Baby’s feet go parallel to your side while on his back in the crook of your arm. Your hand holds baby’s head where the breast is fully accessible to baby. From there, baby is encouraged to latch on. This may feel awkward at first, but it does get easier.

Alternatively, you could choose to pump if holding baby proves to be too difficult, and instead, bottle feed breast milk to baby until you feel strong enough to attempt breastfeeding. Multiples are another special situation because multiple babies have to feed off of the only two breasts you have. While this may seem an insurmountable obstacle, just remind yourself, there have been plenty of twins that survived throughout history before formula was ever invented, and they did not all have wet nurses.

In the beginning, your breasts will feel so full and engorged, but remember, this is a good thing! An abundance of milk in the beginning assures you that your body is capable of making enough milk to nurse more than one baby. You may have to cycle feeding times or learn how to hold one in each arm so that they can feed at the same time, but it can be done. Patience and practice will make it happen. If you need help, search for a lactation consultant at your local hospital or birthing center and they will be more than happy to help you breastfeed in any situation.

This guest post was written by Tanya Allsop. Tanya owns and writes for BreastPumpReviewSite.com , a website dedicated to breast pump reviews , buying guides, and breastfeeding information. 

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