Breastfeeding Tips & Guidance
From Eating Well To Overcoming Nursing Issues
Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural experience. It is also a skill that, for some mother-infant pairs, needs to be learned. Our specialists advise on areas such as: how to find the right positioning of your baby on the breast; eating well and staying in shape; how to know if your baby has eaten enough; continuing breastfeeding while working and overcoming nursing challenges.
Breastfeeding With Confidence
Breastfeeding a baby, especially at first, may require learning a new skill. With the right moves and the right accessories, breastfeeding will quickly become part of your daily routine.
Good Positions For Breastfeeding
A maternity nurse or midwife will explain in detail the correct way to position your baby at the breast. When you return home, do not hesitate to contact your health care provider or a lactation consultant if you have any questions.
Breastfeeding is a moment of shared intimacy. For maximum benefit, you must be both comfortable: so your baby can suck better, which helps stimulate your milk production, and prevents physical discomfort such as backaches or sore nipples.
The “Madonna” and the “Football”
One of the best positions to start breastfeeding is with the most traditional position, called the "Madonna". Face your baby towards you, his belly against yours. Place your forearms against his back, put your hand under his bottom, and place your elbow on an armrest for support. With the other hand, you can, if necessary, insert your breast in the baby's mouth. His chin should touch your breast and his nose, your nipple.
Another convenient position is called the "football". As its name suggests, you hold the baby as a football, on your side, up to your waist, cupping him with your arm. His neck rests in the palm of the opposite hand. You can learn about comfortable feeding positions more on the Gerber site.
Get The Right Accessories
A few simple aids can make breastfeeding easier and more successful. Choose clothes well designed for breastfeeding, with openings in the front, such as dresses and blouses. And consider the following accessories, as well:
- The nursing pillow, which can be any rounded wedge, helps your baby to stay in the correct position, and gives you a free hand when nursing.
- Shells or breast pads, disposable or washable, can prevent the milk stains on your clothes. They also keep the nipples dry between feedings, which can help to prevent cracked nipples.
- The nursing bra can help you to breastfeed discreetly and comfortably. To find the right size, it’s usually advised to choose a size up from what you had in the eighth month of pregnancy. Check with a professional where possible, because this is not always the case.
Learn and Build Confidence
As you get a bit of practice, you’ll begin to get more comfortable. It’s simple to know if your baby is in the right position: you should not feel any pain, and your baby should be quiet and slowly sucking. Here are a few common questions, and our suggestions:
- One breast or two during a feeding? The ideal is to always give both breasts to your baby, but nothing prevents you from doing otherwise.
- Breastfeeding twins? Yes, it is possible. Simultaneous breastfeeding is convenient and fast: Adopt the “football” position with both babies, with your infants face to face. You can also take turns to breastfeed them individually - starting with the hungriest.
- Baby a little reluctant to breastfeed? Don’t worry, it can happen. Tickle his upper lip, or give a few caresses on his cheek. Talking softly is also very effective. Don’t force it however: the baby will decide when he wants to drink.
For more information, visit Gerber.com
Keep Everything You Need in Reach
Before breastfeeding, make sure you have everything you need on hand first, such as a glass of water (because breastfeeding makes you thirsty), a diaper, a small blanket and cushion (regular or a breastfeeding pillow).
For the well being and health of your baby, it’s important to have a varied diet, a healthy lifestyle and drink plenty of water.
Breastfeeding And Eating Well
You're probably wondering how much food you should eat while breastfeeding. The important thing is to eat healthily, in reasonable quantities:
- Fruit and vegetables, preferably seasonal.
- Protein: meat, fish, eggs. Once a week, turn the menu towards fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and trout). Fish is excellent for contributing good fatty acids to your milk.
- Dairy, three servings a day is ideal to provide you with the calcium you need.
- Cereals, legumes and seeds.
- Fat in small quantities, preferably cold-pressed vegetable oils.
If you already ate well during your pregnancy, keep it up. Eat three meals a day, and give yourself a snack if you feel like it, after nursing.
And, contrary to what you might think, there are no forbidden foods when breastfeeding. Garlic, spices and cabbage, however may flavor your milk and could cause issues with your baby’s digestive system. Also remember to drink plenty of liquids – water, 100% juice or low fat or fat-free milk can all help keep your body hydrated, so you can produce more milk. It's also important for maintaining your general health.
More information about eating healthy while breastfeeding is on the Gerber site.
Is Baby Full?
Determining the quantity of milk that your baby drinks when breastfeeding isn't easy. But, determining if your baby has had enough is easy, once you know the signs of fullness. Your baby will let you know if he is if satisfied or not. Some signs are impossible to miss.
Signs That Your Baby Is Eating Well
While feeding your baby, is he calm, relaxed and swallowing regularly? Then he is likely getting the right amount of milk. If the pace is slightly faster or if he takes a little break before starting to drink, this is also normal: it’s the baby who dictates the pace and decides when he's had enough. Another sign that your baby is getting enough milk: you’ll find his diaper wet and needing to be changed five to six times per day. For you, breastfeeding should now feel comfortable, with no pain. After nursing, you should find that your breasts are softer.
Signs that your baby is not getting enough to eat: Your baby is restless, tense or rarely swallows; The number of daily feedings decreases abruptly; He cries constantly or seems fussier than usual. In all these cases, consult your pediatrician.
The weight curve of your baby is the most important clue, so watch it closely. The first few days after birth, babies can lose up to 10% of their birth weight. After that, they rapidly put the weight back on, plus more. Often, you will have a scheduled pediatrician visit three to five days after returning home from the hospital, during which your baby will be weighed.
Tips For Successful Breastfeeding
Each baby has his own pace. There’s no minimum or maximum feeding that your baby should be doing. Only your baby knows when he is hungry or thirsty. Some babies feed quickly and are finished in 10 minutes, while others need more time. Your baby does not want to drink anymore, and seems happy? This is a sign that he is sated; you can stop trying to nurse him.
Another tip: at each feeding, consider changing the first breast you offer to your baby. To remember which side you last fed the baby on, put a bracelet or hairband in the corresponding arm to the breast that you last nursed on. Or, write it down in a notebook or log it on a smart phone app.
Returning to Work While Breastfeeding
If you’re returning to work, there’s nothing to stop you from continuing to breastfeed. While at work you’ll need to pump and store milk in order to keep breastfeeding.
Creating New Habits
Expressing and storing your milk can be simple. Breast milk keeps in the refrigerator up to three days in a sterilized bottle. For transport with a nanny or to daycare, use a cooler. Breast milk also keeps in the freezer attached to your refrigerator for approximately 30 days. If you have a deep-freeze (0°F) in your home, you can store breast milk for three to six months.
To learn more about storing breast milk, watch this video on the Gerber site.
Supplementing is an alternative, particularly after your baby reaches 6 months: continue breastfeeding in the morning before leaving for work, and in the evening, after returning, supplementing your baby’s diet with formula when you’re not with him. Breastfeeding, even partial, is preferable to an all-formula diet.
The Breast Pump
The pump is an essential accessory if you return to work and want to continue exclusive breastfeeding. It is a pump mechanism that reproduces the suction exerted by your baby. Consider testing it a few days before returning to work to make sure it’s working properly on your first day back and to get experience in using it.
When looking to buy a breast pump, know that there are manual or electric models. The first are less noisy, letting you pump your milk more discreetly, while the second is more expensive, but easier and faster to use. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from a pediatric nurse, a lactation consultant or your pediatrician before choosing which breast pump to buy.
Pumping Milk at Work
If you plan to pump milk while at work, make sure you have a refrigerator available to keep your milk cool, and either take a small, manual pump with you that you can use (discreetly) in an isolated place. Or, if your work place has a designated room for pumping, take the electric one since noise won’t be an issue.
Before feeding the expressed milk to your baby, warm it by passing it under a stream of warm water. Avoid the microwave as it entails the risk of burns, and the immune properties of breast milk may be reduced if brought to too high a temperature.
Breastfeeding Away From Home
Breastfeeding your baby in front of people might make you feel awkward, particularly at first. This is normal, and there are ways for you to feel more comfortable with feeding your baby in public. First, choose a quiet place, and away from other people if you feel the need. Wear loose clothing that you can easily open and fold close around your baby’s face. Another solution: use a nursing cover.
Managing Common Problems
Breastfeeding is a time of intense emotions. While it is a beautiful, natural experience, sometimes problems can occur. Here are a few tips to help manage some common breastfeeding issues you might have so you can fully enjoy this experience.
- Your baby demands to be fed constantly. This is quite normal in the beginning: there’s no reason to worry about feeding your baby too frequently. You're both learning how to breastfeed, and your baby needs time to find his stride – this can take an average of six to eight weeks. In the meantime, be patient, follow your baby’s cues, and stay confident.
- Your baby refuses the breast. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like your milk. His stomach might be a little upset, or you may have changed moisturizer and he doesn’t recognize your scent. In any case, this refusal is usually temporary and returns back to normal very quickly.
- Crevices. These small cracks on the nipples can be very painful. To avoid this, make sure your baby is latching to your breast correctly (the nipple to the top of the palate) and his mouth covers a good portion of the areola. Also, be sure to practice good hygiene. Before nursing, wash your hands and wash your nipples in clean, cool water. To relieve chapped nipples, apply a few drops of your own milk: it’s practical, economical and very effective. If necessary, consult your doctor.
- Engorgement. If your breast is swollen, hard and painful, then you may be experiencing engorgement. This is basically an overflow of milk in the mammary gland. One effective remedy is to stimulate the flow of milk by multiplying feeds, or using a breast pump. If the pain is intense, you can take a hot shower or take a warm glove on your breasts just before nursing to soften the hard lumps, massaging with circular movements. After feeding, apply cold compresses. Please seek advice from your doctor or lactation consultant if the problem persists.
- Mastitis. Sometimes milk, if not fully expressed from the breast, can result in mastitis. This inflammation can be very painful and accompanied by severe fatigue. Excess milk must be "emptied" from the breast, either by a sucking baby or using a breast pump. If symptoms persist and/or you have a fever, see a doctor.