Bonding with your baby is an incredible process that starts with hearing their heartbeat, feeling those first kicks and meeting them for the very first time. Every moment becomes a milestone and if you’re a nursing mother, that first latch can be the beginning of an incredible breastfeeding journey. Nursing your newborn can be both rewarding and challenging in those first few weeks. While every mother and every baby are different, these tips can help answer some common questions you might have when navigating this new relationship and routine.
How do I know if baby is hungry?
When they aren’t sleeping, newborn babies seem to eat almost constantly. This is completely normal. In the first few days after birth, babies need to remain in close contact with your breasts. This not only provides easier access for frequent feedings, but also helps stimulate your milk supply. Current recommendations are to ensure newborns have access to meals around the clock and should average out to be at least eight feedings in a 24-hour period.
What if baby is sleeping?
In the early days, it is common to need to wake a drowsy baby so they know it’s mealtime. Sleepy babies don’t tend to eat for long, so try to wake your little one by removing an article of clothing or changing their diaper. Gently rub the tummy or feet and place baby skin to skin, all while talking to, and encouraging them to leave their dreamy state.
How do I keep baby awake during feedings?
Sometimes babies become so relaxed during feedings they drift off to sleep, even if they’ve only been eating for a few minutes. If this happens, gently play with their feet, rub their cheeks, talk to your little one, or gently blow on their arms. With extra sleepy babies it can be helpful to gently rub a wet washcloth on them to help remind them it’s time to eat. Signs of a good feed are active suckling at the breast with occasional audible swallows.
What is reclined latching?
Reclined latching, also known as “baby led latching,” can be a wonderful breastfeeding position. If you have a chair that reclines, sit in it and gently recline the head back so you are in a comfortable position. Place baby parallel to your chest so that baby has access to your breast. Allow them to bob and move their head around, and eventually they will reach the bullseye and latch on. This position is great for giving baby a deeper latch. If you notice nipple pain, gently detach the baby from the breast and try again.
How should I handle nighttime feedings?
During night feedings, try to keep mealtimes as quiet and boring as possible. Dim the lights and avoid changing a diaper if you don’t have to. Once baby wakes up fully they tend to be up and ready for playtime, despite it being 3:30 in the morning.
Where can I find support?
Leaning on friends and family who are nursing or who have breastfed can make a world of difference during the early days of your journey. You can also find professional support. Do not hesitate to seek the guidance of a lactation consultant. They are professionals who went through additional training all with the desire to help during this learning process.
Remember to breathe — you will find your routine. The first few weeks of the newborn stage can be exhausting; there is no doubt about it. This is a learning experience for both of you. Remember baby is trying to figure out this whole breastfeeding thing just as much as you are. Sleep when baby is sleeping. Dirty laundry and dishes can wait just a little while longer. Be patient with yourself, and eventually the family will settle into a routine. It does get easier!