Women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time, but it doesn’t always come easily to everyone. Challenges along the way can become very frustrating, even if you’re breastfeeding your 2nd or 3rd baby. It is a good idea to become acquainted with the process before your baby arrives. If you’re experiencing problems with breastfeeding, try not to get discouraged – there are plenty of professionals and resources out there that can help. At Celebrate Birth, we’ve got the information you need to get your breastfeeding relationship off to a great start. Let’s start with some basics.
How is milk made?
Your breasts have been preparing to feed your baby since even before you became pregnant. They are made up of supportive tissue, milk glands, ducts, and protective fat all designed to produce milk and deliver it to your baby. During pregnancy, you may notice your breasts start to change and become more tender and swollen as they are getting ready for the process to make milk. Once you give birth to your baby, a combination of two key hormones (oxytocin and prolactin) work together to make and move the milk. When your baby suckles, oxytocin tells your breasts to release milk. Once your baby nurses and drinks the milk, prolactin tells your body to continue to produce the milk. This is why the more you nurse your baby, the more milk you will make.
How can you be sure your baby is getting enough milk?
You may wonder if you are making enough milk for your baby. This is a normal concern and most of the time the answer is that you are! When you are done with a feeding, if your baby seems satisfied and content and your breasts feel softer and less full of milk, these are good signs that your supply is well-established.
A great way to tell if your baby is getting enough milk is to keep track of wet and dirty diapers. The color, texture, and frequency of poops will tell you a lot about how your baby is processing nutrition. Of course every baby is different, but this chart can give you a general idea as to what you can expect to see in your newborn’s diapers.
What are some comfortable positions for breastfeeding?
There is no one nursing position that will be right for all moms and all babies. If you are comfortable and your baby is able to get a nice, deep latch, you are in a great position. Feel free to experiment with different positions to figure out what works best for you. The most common ones are cradle, cross cradle, football and laid-back position.
Cradle and cross cradle tend to be the go-to positions for most moms. A large reason for that being true is that it is easy when you are on the go and it is usually very comfortable. Just be sure to bring your baby to your breast and maintain good posture. Otherwise, you may find yourself dealing with back pain.
For moms who deliver by cesarean section, the football hold is nice because it keeps the baby off of the incision. This is also a great position for moms with larger breasts.
Laid-back position tends to work well for babies who are having a hard time maintaining a deep latch, or if you have a very strong let-down that makes your baby gag or cough while nursing.
There are many great youtube videos that show you how to get comfortable in each of these positions.
How does Celebrate Birth support breastfeeding?
We understand that breastfeeding isn’t always easy, especially in the first few months. We are dedicated to supporting you on your breastfeeding journey, whatever your goals are. During your pregnancy, we encourage you to take the Breastfeeding Basics class offered by our non-profit partner, The Nest. This 90-minute interactive class teaches the basics of lactation as well as how to cultivate a successful breastfeeding relationship with live instruction and demonstrations as well as video clips that thoroughly teach mechanics of the correct latch. It’s not just a source of support to first-time moms – even seasoned moms can benefit from this class since every baby is different and can bring their own unique set of challenges. For clients, our midwives are on-call to help with breastfeeding questions in the first two weeks after the birth. Beyond those two weeks, we refer to the lactation team at The Nest for more specific support.
To learn more about how we can help with any of your breastfeeding needs, give us a call or check out our website.
Understanding the process and the basics behind breastfeeding will help you to have a successful journey, but the most important thing you can do is trust your body and your instincts. Rest in the fact that our community has a variety of resources available to you should you need any support along the way.