I was certain that nursing my little ones would happen effortlessly, but it didn't. Even after my second, at which point I was a Doula supporting many women through the first hours and days of latching, I still had challenges.
There can be many factors that challenge the whole process; assisted or medicated births, postpartum fatigue, etc., but here are a handful of tips that helped me achieve breastfeeding success and I hope they help you too.
Attend a breastfeeding class before baby arrives: Learn some practical tips, meet families in the neighbourhood and get support for yourself and your partner.
Whenever possible, be skin to skin with your baby, especially right after birth for at least the first hour. Did you know that if you put baby immediately on your chest after birth without too much interference, they will actually crawl and latch on to your breast? Most babies can do this within the first 10-20 minutes! watch here (It's a very informative video; baby latches at 4:40).
Stay in bed for a week: Easier said than done, but try to create a sacred space where you can rest, learn baby's cues and begin a nursing routine.
Try to stay relaxed: When you are calm, baby is calm, and vice versa. If Baby becomes upset, gently place him/her on your shoulders and soothe with "shushing" and rocking. And don't forget to take a deep breath for yourself.
Get help early: If you are having a challenging time, don't wait; lactation consultants and breastfeeding clinics are a wealth of information, and can provide valuable tips for a good latch.
Get comfortable and have everything within arms reach where you sit: Seriously! Find a comfortable place to sit: Snacks and drink? Check! Telephone and remote control? Check! ! Empty bladder? Yikes! Sigh...
Try tummy to tummy: Proper alignment is key. If you have baby skin to skin then you will not only benefit from all the good hormones that get released from skin contact, but you will be able to ensure correct positioning...straight spine and no rotation at the neck.
Consider your diet: Drink plenty of water, herbal teas and juiced veggies high in nutrients. Prep and eat meals high in healthy fats to support your hard working body. Breastfeeding burns up to 600 calories a day!
Take your Time and slow your schedule down: It's a huge shift, but you will need time to breastfeed: it can take up to 30 minutes a session before baby is satiated.
Be persistent: Don't give up too soon! Breastfeeding isn't always easy at first. It took me and my firstborn 3 months (yep!) before we were comfortable. With the right support, you will get the hang of it.
Massage breasts: Before nursing, apply warm towels and gently massage breasts in a clockwise fashion; this helps to stimulate the "let-down reflex" (the signal for milk to flow) learn here
Latch on correctly if not try again: If baby isn't latched on correctly, you will feel pain and/or hear clicking or sucking sounds. It is important to deal with it right away. Unlatch baby from the breast by slipping a finger in the corner of their mouth to break the suction and try latching him/her on again.
Take time to burp: Breastfed babies generally need less burping than bottle fed babies, but their tummies are new and still growing: take a moment before offering the other breast to gently pat out any possible bubbles.
Use a breast pump after you nurse baby: Pumping after a feed with not only encourage a good milk supply, but will also provide extra milk for when you need partner or another caregiver to feed baby.
Engage with baby: This is a really great time to chat with baby, read stories, sing songs.
Best for baby
Reduces incidence of allergies
Economical - no waste
Antibodies - greater immunity to infections
Stool inoffensive - never constipated
Temperature always correct and constant
Fresh milk - never goes sour in the breast
Easy once established
Digested easily within two to three hours
Gastroenteritis greatly reduced
From a publicity leaflet by the TIBS support group, Trinidad.