Breastfeeding has several advantages both for mother and the baby. But it is not easy, especially for first time moms. It is a learned skill- you will get better at it with practice. First 2 weeks are the hardest for most women. Take help from your nurses, doctors, lactation consultants, family, friends and support groups.
Here are some steps/tips.
- Getting ready for breastfeeding- Be calm and relaxed, get some water or juice for yourself. Get some pillows to help support you and your baby while he or she is nursing.
- Find a breastfeeding position that is comfortable for you and your baby such as cross cradle and football hold. Make sure your baby’s head and chest are lined up straight and facing your breast. Switch from one breast to the other every time you start feeding.
- Get the baby latched on properly with his or her mouth wide open which you can do by gently touching the middle of your baby’s lower lip. Make sure your baby takes the whole nipple and part of your areola into their mouth, not just the end of the nipple.
- Provide a complete feeding- let your baby nurse for at least 15 min.
If you are high milk producer, you should pump after feeding your baby if you still feel full. That extra breast milk can be stored in fridge/ freezer for later use and will help keep up your supply.
If you are struggling with milk production- there are some over the counter herbal remedies, you can use.
- Fenugreek pills, fenugreek in diet
- Shatavari herbal drops- available at maternal connections store at the hospital.
- Reglan/ metoclopramide- prescribed by your doctors.
(Domperidone which is sometimes advised by some lactation consultants is not recommended by the FDA. It is also not covered by insurance and is only available in some compounding pharmacies. It is used in other countries more commonly like Europe and Canada).
Breast engorgement means your breasts are painfully full of milk. This usually occurs when a mother makes more milk than her baby uses. Your breasts may become firm and swollen which makes it hard for your baby to breastfeed. Engorged breasts can be treated at home.
Engorgement may happen:
- When your milk first comes in, often during the first few days after birth.
- When you have a regular breastfeeding routine but can’t nurse/pump as much as usual.
- If you suddenly stop breastfeeding.
- When your baby feeds less than usual, is ill, has a poor appetite, or has started solid foods.
Symptoms of engorged breasts include:
- Swollen, firm and painful breasts. In severe cases they can seem hard, shiny, warm and slightly lumpy to touch.
- Flattened nipples and firm areola.
- A slight fever of around 100.4 F
- Severe engorgement can lead to blocked milk ducts and breast infection called mastitis which needs to be treated by antibiotics.
Home treatment for engorgement- Use the following steps
- Soften your breasts before feedings. You can apply warm compress for a couple of minutes or use a pump to let out a small amount of milk from both breasts before baby feeds.
- Take Ibuprofen or Advil to reduce pain and swelling.
- If your breasts still feel uncomfortable after nursing, try a cold compress to reduce swelling. You can use a frozen wet towel, a cold pack or bag of frozen vegetables- 15 min at a time every hour as needed. Use a thin cloth between skin and cold pack to prevent skin damage.
Call us if the above remedies do not work or if you develop signs of infection. For example: if there is any pain in breasts or nipples, if you have a fever, or if you feel chills. Call us at (650) 396-8110.
If you can’t breastfeed:
- It’s not easy.
- Pumping without nursing is the hardest.
- All benefits limited to first 2 years.
- Around 20% of women supplement with formula within two days of birth. Around 30% supplement by 3 months.
- A 2015 CDC study shows only 24.9% of women are exclusively breastfeeding through 6 months.
- Of women who intended to breastfeed at least through 8 weeks, 14% of them stopped breastfeeding by 6 weeks in another study.
- In one study 60% of mothers who started breastfeeding did not breastfeed for as long as they wanted to.
- The biggest factor in healthy, growing newborn is love, which requires a sane, rested mother—not an exhausted, trying-everything mom who can’t accept she doesn’t have enough supply.
- Formula isn’t evil, it’s even better even than a wet-nurse.
- Call our office at (650) 396-8110 and ask to speak to Nadia (our registered nurse and lactation educator).
- Free advice line to all new mothers at ECH- call (650) 988-8290.
- Drop in breastfeeding support session at ECH on Wednesdays 10.30-11.30 am with a lactation consultant in a group setting, no fees
- Private one to one session with lactation consultant at ECH by appointment and fees applied.
- Products for breastfeeding mothers/ pump rentals- The Maternal Connection- M-F- 10.00 am- 4.00 pm, Saturday- 10.00 am- 3.00 pm.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, all of the above does not work and it is okay to stop breastfeeding, especially if it is taking a toll on your physical and mental health. While breast milk is ideal food for babies, your baby can get good nutrition from formula. Formulas are designed to give babies all the calories and nutrients they need. There are several formula types available in the market, most are comparable and not one is proven to be better than other- whatever suits you and your baby is the best!!