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5 important things to consider while breastfeeding

If you’ve just had a little addition to your family, congrats! While the decision to breastfeed your little one (or not), can depend on a number of factors, the benefits of doing so are undisputed. Research has shown that breast-fed babies have higher immunity and are at lower risk of chronic illnesses in the long run. Breast milk is also easier for your baby to digest, leading to fewer episodes of diarrhea or indigestion.


Attractive mother breastfeeds her baby


Contrary to popular belief, however, breast feeding doesn’t necessarily come easily or naturally to everyone, and like many skills, has to be learnt by both the baby and the mother. It takes a while for both of you to get into the rhythm, but here are a few tips we believe may help:


1. Start right away

Generally, you’re encouraged to begin feeding not long after birth. While breast milk takes 2 or 3 days to come in, the fluid produced before, Colostrum is a valuable source of nutrients. Also, your baby’s sucking motion promotes the let down of milk too.


2. Find the right feeding position

You can choose to feed your baby sitting down or lying down. For the former, find a comfortable chair or any form of seating with a backrest. Cradle your baby in your arms, with your elbow supporting their neck and the lower portion of the head. You can also cradle the head with the other hand. Try using a nursing pillow to adjust the baby’s height and to take some of the burden off you.


You can also choose to lie down on your side, with the baby facing you. You can place a pillow on your baby’s other side, to keep them snug and prevent them from rolling away. The lying down position is great for night feeds, but make sure you don’t fall asleep.


3. Make sure your baby latches on right

An improper latch will mean discomfort for you, and poor nourishment for your baby. When you’re ready to begin feeding, gently nudge your baby’s mouth with the nipple, and allow baby to start sucking. The latch is said to be correct when the nipple and most of the areola are fully in the baby’s mouth. If the latch doesn’t seem to be correct, lightly press the part of your breast just above your baby’s mouth with your finger to break contact. Then reattach once you’re sure your baby’s mouth is fully open.


Sometimes, your baby is just not hungry or falls asleep during the feed. If it’s the latter, you can try gently stroking their cheek to encourage them to feed.


If you’re experiencing serious difficulty with latching, speak to your doctor about using a nipple shield.


4. Switch sides only when needed

Feed requirements vary for each baby. Allow your baby to feed on one side as long as possible. Breast milk consists of the thinner foremilk and the thicker, higher calorie hind milk that comes towards the end, which they will not get if you switch too soon. Switch if your baby still seems hungry - if they refuse to feed when you switch, start with that side at the next feed.


5. Take care of yourself

You need 400 to 600 calories of additional energy during this time so make sure you eat an adequate, balanced diet with plenty of fluids. Include whole grains, nuts, protein and calcium-rich food in your diet. You can also take Vitamin D supplements after consulting with your doctor.


Breastfeeding may take a toll on your nipples and lead to cracking. Keep them smooth and supple with a baby-friendly nursing cream. Staying relaxed and positive also plays a big part in making this time as stress-free as possible. Try and feed in a relaxed, happy environment, with minimum visitors on hand. Use this as a time to bond with your baby.