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How to Breastfeed-Tips for Getting Started Feeding Your Newborn

Updated on April 16, 2012

Having a baby can be an emotional time for new mothers. While you may have taken the time to gather up all of the things your newborn will need once he is here, breastfeeding is often something that one does not dwell on too much other than to decide if they will try it or not. Some people think that the understanding and ability to breastfeed should just be natural. That as soon as you give birth to your child, you should automatically know what to do and how, and so should your baby. This is not always the case. Some women are more "natural" as the saying goes than others but it is not a given.

Use Some Gentle Guidance

While most babies will instinctively search for and latch on to your nipple if you offer it, some babies may still move from side to side with their head trying to find your nipple and figure out how to open their mouth wide enough. If you find your little one seems to be a little lost, tenderly hold his head with one hand and direct him to the nipple. Once he has found it,if he does not seem to open wide enough, try putting your finger into his mouth slightly so he will be forced to open wider. Once he does, he should be able to latch on. You will not have started producing your milk yet but there will still be a substance known as colostrum which is thick and full of vitamins and nutrients. When your baby drinks this colostrum, not only does he get to practice his sucking, he also receives protection for fighting off infections and illnesses in the future months to come.

If your baby is causing you pain when nursing, this usually means that he is not latched on properly. If so, just simply stick your finger back in the side of his mouth gently to release the suction pressure and try to re-position him again. It is natural for a small amount of pain to be associated with your first nursing as it will be a new experience for you. But if it is very uncomfortable to where you can not bear it, a new position needs to be found.

Use the Help of a Nurse or Nursing Products

If you find that you or your baby are still having a hard time learning how to breastfeed, you can ask a nurse or request a speicalized nursing practitioner to come in and lend you a helping hand. Many times it is the angle the baby is lying on, or your baby is lazy, or simply he just isn't understanding what he is supposed to be doing. Once you both have found a comfortable sitting position, you will soon fall into a natural rhythm. Some babies like to be held like footballs with their legs and body tucked under your arm, while others like to be nestled up close to your body as much as possible.You may also find propping your newborn up on a feeding pillow that is shaped like a half circle works best and also gives your arms some much needed rest as most newborns tend to nurse for 20-30 minutes at a time.

Practice Regular Nursing Schedules

You should nurse as often as possible. The more often you nurse, the faster your body will produce the real mature milk that your baby will need to fill his belly. In the beginning, a newborns belly is the size of a walnut. This means that he needs to constantly be filling it up as there is not much room to store more than he will be using. Most moms find that breastfeeding for 10-15 minutes on each side for 8-10 times a day is an ideal target. Many times though, babies like to eat every hour. It may seem like you spend your entire day nursing and changing diapers for the first few weeks but this will soon change as your baby gets better at nursing, can take more in at a time, and becomes more comfortable.

Crying is a sign of hunger. If you keep to a regular schedule, you should be able to know when it is nursing time and feed your little one before he needs to cry to tell you that he is hungry. Sometimes though babies can get indigestion or have adverse affects to your milk if you eat certain foods, so paying attention to the way your baby cries will alert you to whether or not he is hungry or just needs to be burped.

If your baby is lazy or loves to sleep, you may find yourself having to wake him up every four hours just to make sure he is getting enough in his belly. Breast milk is not as heavy as formula and more often than not breastfed babies need to eat more often to ensure that they are getting enough.

Find a Comfortable Position

There are a few reasons why you will want to get comfortable when breastfeeding. One reason is because it can take a long time and you will not want to be in an uncomfortable state where you will get cramped up or lose feeling somewhere. Another reason you will want to get comfortable is because this is a nice time to bond with your child.If you lie down on a bed or lean back into a comfy couch, you can relax, watch your baby, stroke his hair, talk to him and just enjoy spending the time with him being a part of you.

Learning the steps of how to breastfeed does not have to be hard. It simply takes a little bit of patience and practice.The more time you and your little one have together, the easier the process will become. Pretty soon you will no longer even think about anything and merely pick him up to nurse. The time you spend breastfeeding your little one is a special time, a time that only happens once in your child's life. Treasure every moment and eat healthy in order to ensure you help your little one get the best nutrients and vitamins he needs for his growing body.

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    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 7 years ago from Summerland

      to add to your tips..i found that if i used the ointment on my nipples before taking a shower in the first couple weeks, it prevented them from cracking. wonderful write-up on nursing, thank you!

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