Breastfeeding has several significant positive consequences for women’s health. Women who breastfeed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes. This blog entry is about the simple, yet effective ways to promote the breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby during the postpartum period and some simple breastfeeding techniques.
After birth, skin to skin contact between mother and baby facilitates bonding and promotes breastfeeding. Mothers and babies benefit from smelling each other, so there is no need for baby hats. Babies do not need baths either. If your baby has vernix caseosa, a white creamy substance, which protects their skin from the constant exposure to amniotic fluid, just rub it into the baby’s skin or into your skin. Lastly, it is important not to give your baby pacifiers. Babies can self sooth or nurse.
Midwives and doulas assist mothers in initiating breastfeeding within half-hour of birth. After that first latch, babies will fall into a deep sleep. Once they wake up, newborns nurse on demand every two to three hours. It is easiest to start nursing once you notice your baby getting fidgety or smacking their lips. If you miss these cues, you may need to calm your baby by placing your finger gently in their mouth until they are calm enough to nurse.
The classic nursing position is called the cradle hold. To use this position, cradle your baby’s head in the nook of your arm, and use pillows to stay in a straight line, belly to belly. With the other hand, cup your breast between your thumb and index finger and insert your nipple to the roof of your baby’s mouth. When your baby is latched correctly, your nipple and at least part, if not all, the areola-the dark area surrounding the nipple-is in your baby’s mouth. There are several other popular nursing positions that include the cross over hold, the football hold, and reclining position.
Many times when your baby needs to take a break or wants to switch sides, she/he will open and release your breast. If your baby does not release or is latched on incorrectly, gently slide your finger into the side of your baby’s mouth, go past your baby’s lips and between the gums. This will break the suction. Keep your finger between your baby’s gums until your nipple is removed.
Other good resources are Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by the La Leche League International. For more support from other local breastfeeding moms, contact your local La Leche League International. For more information, contact me at BlissfulMidwifery.com.