The TOP 4 things you can do if breastfeeding your newborn “just isn’t working”… (Be honest, you’re too tired to remember a TOP 5 list, so let’s just stick to the best 4!)
Whatever your breastfeeding story, it is very common to have at least a few struggles with breastfeeding especially in the first week. Whether it’s a painful latch, a sleepy baby, constant crying or someone telling you that baby isn’t getting enough, there are lots of challenges you might encounter. Most of us didn’t grow up in a village where all the mothers were topless and sat around a fire breastfeeding all day. If we had, more of us would find breastfeeding natural, instinctive and easy….but for many, it’s not. It’s something you need practice, help, and time to get good at. Also, there are some great tricks that can make a big difference if you know about them, so that’s where I come in!
Now Presenting: The top 4 things that will help you keep breastfeeding, even when things aren’t quite perfect at the start…..
1. Learn about Hand Expression
If there is ANY reason a baby is having trouble breastfeeding in the first few days after birth, hand express your colostrum every 2-3 hours. You might only get a few drops but it signals your body that you’re still ‘IN’ for becoming a breastfeeder and that you would like to request a great milk supply. We can figure a lot of things out later about a deep latch, nipple comfort and excess weight loss if your body is reminded to continue making milk. Check out a great Hand Expression video here
2. Spoons are made for babies too!
If your baby isn’t able to get colostrum out of your breast the ‘usual’ way because he’s tongue-tied, sleepy, it hurts you or he just can’t latch, then use a spoon! First, read #1 and watch that video. Now hand express right into a spoon & give it to the baby! Spoons are easy to use, hold small amounts (which is usually all newborns need anyway….seriously!) and you can express your thick colostrum right into it so you don’t lose your 3 precious drops in the pump valve thingy!
3. Take off your shirt and hold your naked baby.
This one seems simple and obvious once you learn about how much ‘skin-to-skin holding’ can improve breastfeeding outcomes. Most parents however, think they’re supposed to immediately put their new baby in all the cute outfits and hats they’ve had washed and waiting for this moment…. I don’t blame you, that outfit IS super cute, BUT if your baby is having trouble waking up, calming down, latching or is cold, I promise that the science here is right. Mama’s chest is the place to be. Put your feet up, get comfy and hold your baby.
4. Keep trying, and get help.
Ask for help, ask for more help, then if you still need help, find different help…and CALL ME! Breastfeeding takes practice. Learning about a few ‘normal’ things can make a big difference in your confidence too.
- Shaping your breast the SAME direction as the baby’s mouth will help him get a deeper latch
- The tiny amount of colostrum that babies actually need
- That weight loss in the first week is NORMAL (get help if it’s more than 10-12%) because of ‘water weight’
- That breastfed babies need to SUCK! (That’s what brings your milk in so don’t expect to sleep longer than an hour or two in a row for a while!)
The sooner you find help the better, but even if things aren’t perfect right from the start, try these things and your breastfeeding career really can continue almost always, if you are a bit stubborn, a bit knowledgeable and just a little bit lucky.