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World Breastfeeding Week 2021: Tips To Conquer The First Month Of Breastfeeding

World Breastfeeding Week 2021: Breast milk offers all essential nutrients to the baby during initial 6 months. New mothers may find difficulty during the initial stages of breast feeding. Here are some tips that might help.

World Breastfeeding Week 2021: Tips To Conquer The First Month Of Breastfeeding

World Breastfeeding Week 2021: Breastfeeding can offer several benefits to the baby as well as the mother

Breastfeeding is by far the healthiest and best natural way to feed your baby. However, for many women, the process of breastfeeding can be sometimes scary, especially during the initial stages. It is imperative to know beforehand on how to prepare for smooth transition to breastfeeding, thus enhancing overall nursing experience by reducing cracked nipples or pain in breasts.

Many women feel anxious about how should they start breastfeeding their babies. They need to realise that the first month is the most crucial one for breastfeeding as the baby starts to get attached to the mother. Also, a mother is learning about breastfeeding, right postures, right timings, cleanliness etc.

Few days before delivery:

Many may find it surprising but the body prepares itself for breastfeeding right from the start of pregnancy. Two major signs during early pregnancy are tingling nipples and tenderness, which is a sign that the breasts are getting bigger. Moreover, the blood supply increases drastically during pregnancy, thus leading to development of milk ducts and milk-producing cells.

However, the size of your breasts before pregnancy, and how much they grow during pregnancy, don't determine how much milk you'll be able to produce for your baby. If you're small-breasted, you'll still be able to feed your baby all the milk he/she needs.

What happens during the first few days after delivery?

In the first couple of days after delivery, your body will be making colostrum, the perfect first milk for your baby. It's thick in texture, golden coloured and delivered in small quantities. About two to five days after birth, your milk will come in and by around 4-6 weeks the breast milk production and feeding pattern are well established.

One may also find it astonishing but the new mother's body odour helps in creating a special bond with the baby. Oil is produced and released through areolas of the nipples, which lubricates the nipples naturally. For the baby, the oil has a peculiar attractive smell. The baby soon connects with the smell, mother's breasts and colostrum. All these help in a strong connection with the baby. It is advisable that new mothers do not use scented perfumes, body lotions in the early days of breastfeeding, especially on or around the breasts.

Things to do before your delivery and soon after delivery:

1. Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding even before your baby is born. Speak and discuss things with other new mothers and concerns that can be addressed.

2. For few days post-delivery, one should try some gentle breast massage. This can help become more comfortable handling your breasts, and may also be useful later on if you need to express your milk.

3. It is always advisable to check for flat or inverted nipples while you are pregnant, as this can sometimes make it a bit more difficult for a baby to latch on to the nipple correctly.

4. Invest in good nursing bras: These bras are comfortable and provide the extra support your larger-than-usual breasts need. Nursing bras make it convenient for mothers to feed their babies, with hooks and flaps. It's best to wait until the last couple of weeks of pregnancy to shopping for nursing bras when your breasts will be closest to their postpartum size. However, once milk comes in, size of the breasts will be bigger by a size or two, than in pregnancy. So, it is advisable to consider this point, while buying nursing bras.

5. Nursing pillows: These pillows are specially designed to support your baby while you're nursing, these can help you avoid straining your shoulders or neck during feeding sessions. As compared to regular pillows, these pillows are more convenient and helps to keep the baby in correct position.

6. Breast pads: It's normal for your breasts to leak while you're nursing, and another baby's cry or the sight of an infant can bring on a gush of milk when you least expect it. One can also opt for disposable breast pads (or reusable, washable ones), which will help in keeping the shirts, t-shirts dry and stain-free.

There are chances of cracked nipples at some point in the first month of breastfeeding or later, during the nursing experience. One can opt for breast care creams and natural methods to relieve pain. A small amount of breast milk if rubbed gently across the nipples, can also help to a great extent.

If the breasts become overly full or engorged, gently press a warm wet washcloth around the swollen or hardened milk ducts to soften them. One of the best ways to get relief from engorged breasts is to feed the baby with breast milk. Sometimes, It can be painful, as the baby first latches on to the engorged breast, but as soon as the milk starts to flow, you'll experience great relief.

To ensure a smooth transition to motherhood, you should sleep while the baby is sleeping. This is highly recommended and a necessity. It is advisable that one seeks help from family and friends before their endorphins/adrenaline crashes and feels low.

One should also choose frequent nursing, as it encourages a good milk supply and reduces breast engorgement. The baby should be nursed and fed atleast 10-12 times in a day. Also, it is advisable to allow the baby unlimited time at the breast when sucking actively, then offer the second breast. For those newborns who are sleepy, it is advised to wake them up to nurse if 2 hours (during the day) or 4 hours (at night) have passed without nursing. All of this will help you and your baby to get breastfeeding off to a great start.

Many times, women wonder if there are exact timings for nursing. But, varying nursing patterns from day to day are quite normal. Even cluster nursing (very frequent to constant nursing) for several hours each day is quite common with babies.

(Dr Kiran Coelho, PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Khar Facility)

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