We understand that breastfeeding can be challenging. After all, many of us are not just doctors and health care workers—we’re also parents.
“If breastfeeding is part of your plan, we will do everything we can to help you succeed because we know how important this is for both mom and baby,” said Amy Dixon, CNM. “It’s also important to not get discouraged. We know where you’re coming from, and we want to provide some solutions that have worked for us.”
Breastfeeding Tips from Our Doctors and Mamas
1. Use Available Resources
Our Certified Nurse Midwives and lactation consultants have a wealth of information that can help you. We recommend taking one of our virtual breastfeeding classes and asking plenty of questions. Having the knowledge you need can get you started on the right foot.
2. Make Sure You’re in a Comfortable Spot
You’ll be breastfeeding a lot, so it’s important to be in a comfortable position. The last thing you need is back and neck pain. Make sure you use plenty of pillows to support you. If you’re more comfortable, your baby will sense it and your sessions will be more pleasant for both of you.
We recommend one of two positions for comfortable breastfeeding:
- Lie on your side with your baby facing you.
- Sit in a reclined position with your baby lying in your arms.
Skin-to-skin contact helps to encourage your baby’s natural instincts and reflexes for breastfeeding. Positioning your baby without clothing or blankets between you for nursing or even a whole sleep cycle can be very rewarding.
3. Evaluate Breastfeeding Positions
The bottom line is that most babies will find the position that works best for them. A large part of successful breastfeeding lies in helping them get to this position.
Even though every baby is different, the following are a few general guidelines that can help you:
● Your baby should not have to turn their head much to reach your nipple.
● Be sure your baby’s mouth is level with your nipple.
● When latched correctly, you should not be able to see your baby’s lower lip because their chin should be pressed into the breast.
● Support the baby’s shoulders and neck, rather than with a hand on the back of their head
● Make sure they latch onto the entire areola–a deeper latch includes a big mouthful of the breast as well as the areola. This helps prevent sore nipples, and it better stimulates the milk-making tissue. By touching your nipple against your baby’s upper lip, they will open their mouth wide, which means they’ll be more likely to get a good latch on.
Remember, while these are general guidelines, you should never force these positions. Take time to learn what your baby prefers.
4. Take Care of Your Breasts
Nursing can chap or irritate the delicate skin of your breasts. But there’s no reason breastfeeding should be a painful experience.
If you are having pain, especially at the tip of your nipples, get help with the latch.
If your nipples are cracked, try rubbing some breast milk on them. There are many other balms that can be bought on-line or compounded.
Just remember to use a gentle cleanser and don’t over wash. After a feeding, it helps to pat your breasts dry. Change out wet breast pads so that the moisture doesn’t encourage a yeast infection.
5. Avoid Breast Engorgement
This uncomfortable breast swelling happens when you are creating more milk than your baby can consume. It’s most often seen when your milk first comes in after the birth of your child.
Not only can engorgement be painful, but it can also make it more difficult for your baby to get a good latch. The solution? Try to nurse as often as possible. If this doesn’t work, hand-express your breast milk or use a pump.
If you continue to have problems with breast engorgement, please contact us. Our lactation consultant will give you the solutions that you need.
6. Don’t Introduce a Pacifier too Early
Babies like to suck on objects. It’s instinctual and can be soothing. But remember, if you give your baby a pacifier too soon, it could interfere with breastfeeding. It’s best to wait until after your breastfeeding routine is already established.
7. Pay Close Attention to Your Breastfeeding Diet
Remember: baby eats what you eat. For example, if you drink caffeine, baby will as well, and it could keep them awake at night. (We’ll go a bit more into detail about a breastfeeding diet later.)
8. You Can Still Breastfeed if You Have Flat or Inverted Nipples
In the past, many women with flat or inverted nipples believed that they would never be able to breastfeed. We can assure you, that’s not the case.
Our lactation consultant will work closely with you to help you make the adjustments you need in order to make sure your little one latches on and has a successful nursing session.
9. Support Your Baby’s Toes
This can help your little one feel more secure while they nurse. If they start to snooze while feeding, gently rub or tickle their toes.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
We could cite study after study, but the bottom line is that breastfeeding gives your baby a healthier start in life. It also has many added benefits for you as well!
You may have heard that the hormones, cells and antibodies found in breastmilk go a long way to protect your infant from certain illnesses. But did you know that this unique protection can actually change every day to meet the nutritional needs of your baby?
When you breastfeed your baby, they have lower risks of:
● Childhood obesity
● Ear infections
● Respiratory infections
● Type 2 Diabetes
● Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
What Is a Good Breastfeeding Diet?
Essentially, the best breastfeeding diet is one that involves healthy meal choices such as vegetables, lean proteins and fruit. Whole grains are also a good choice.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, your baby may not get enough vitamin B-12, which is often found in animal protein. A B-12 deficiency can cause your baby to have a poor appetite, weak muscles and delayed motor skills.
If you don’t get enough vitamin B-12 in your diet, you may have to take a supplement. If you have any questions, just ask us.
It’s important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids—although drinking more water does not increase the amount of breastmilk you make. As always, you should limit drinks with added sugars—particularly sodas.
While there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of caffeine, be aware that too much will make baby fussy and make it more difficult to get them back to sleep! Best to limit the number of caffeinated drinks to one or two cups a day.
Breastfeeding and Alcohol: Separating Fact From Fiction
Misinformation surrounding alcohol and breastfeeding can harm your baby. For example, some people believe the urban myth that a beer helps your milk supply. It doesn’t. In fact, it does just the opposite. Drinking alcohol may actually decrease the amount of milk your baby drinks.
In fact, did you know that alcohol can even change the taste of your breast milk? Some babies may not like it.
Different authorities give slightly different recommendations.
When mother drinks, it passes through the breastmilk to the baby, so the American American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the safest option for nursing women is to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding.
According to the CDC, alcohol levels are usually highest in breast milk 30-60 minutes after an alcoholic beverage is consumed, and can be generally detected in breast milk for about 2-3 hours per drink after it is consumed. Generally, moderate alcohol consumption by a breastfeeding mother (up to 1 standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the mother waits at least 2 hours after a single drink before nursing.
Chapel Hill OBGYN: With You Through All Life’s Stages
Whether you’re having your first baby or your fifth, we know that each breastfeeding situation is different, and may even change from pregnancy to pregnancy. That’s why we pledge to work together with you to tailor a custom health care plan.
See why we’ve been rated the Best of the Triangle by INDY magazine. Contact us. We’d consider it a privilege to care for you.
For more than 40 years, Chapel Hill OBGYN has served women in the Triangle area, sharing the joy of little miracles and supporting them during challenges. Our board-certified physicians and certified nurse midwives bring together the personal experience and convenience of a private practice with the state-of-the-art resources found at larger organizations. To schedule an appointment, please contact us for more information.