The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages new mothers to breastfeed their babies because breast milk represents the best form of nutrition for young infants. While infant formula does contain much of the nutrition that a baby needs, it does not provide the same immune system-boosting benefits as breast milk. Though completely natural, breastfeeding doesn’t come easy for some moms and babies.
A baby that latches correctly will be getting all the milk that he needs without causing you too much pain. To do this, the baby’s mouth should be covering almost all the areola with the bottom lip flaring out. If you’re feeling a lot of pain when your baby is drinking (and it’s not caused from cracked nipples or mastitis), your baby may have a bad latch. Consult with a breastfeeding expert to teach you what your baby should look like.
Different baby-mom combinations seem to prefer different types of hold for the baby. The typical hold is the cradle hold, where you rock the baby in both arms. If her head is in the crook of your right arm, she should be drinking from the right breast with her body going across your chest. In the football hold, you hold her with her legs to the side of you, under your arm–this leaves one hand free. You can also breastfeed in the side-lying position, cradling your baby while lying on your side.
It’s normal to feel some pain when you first start breastfeeding, but it will eventually go away. Your breasts will feel tight and achy as your milk comes in and engorges them. You may also have cracked nipples, because you are not used to feeding. You can purchase a special cream for breastfeeding women that will ease this. If you feel a lump or tender area in your breast, this could be a sign of infection, like mastitis. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
You need an additional 500 calories per day to produce the milk that your baby needs. It is not the time to go on a low-calorie diet. You can get this by having a low-calorie healthy snack every time you feed your baby.
If you try to pump your milk, you may find that you don’t express a lot, no matter which method of expressing you try. This may lead you to think that you are not producing enough milk. If you’re concerned, talk to a lactation consultant or your baby’s doctor. However, if your baby is gaining enough weight, you are producing enough milk.
- baby image by Jarek Miarka from Fotolia.com