Breastfeeding should be an enjoyable time for you and baby to bond as you nourish him/her. What an amazing gift for mother and baby when they are settled in nicely for a good breastfeeding. It may not start out so joyfully for all mothers, however. You’ve heard the stories of cracked, bleeding or bruised nipples and exhausted mothers. You also heard so many mothers talk about how effortless and wonderful it was for them right from the start, all the way through to the end.
Getting a good start to your journey of breastfeeding begins by surrounding yourself with a good support team that will encourage you and support you in all the ways you need to be successful at nursing your baby. A Doula can be a great advocate, educator and supporter for you. She will remind you how powerful and able you are to take care of your baby and give him/her everything he/she needs, while helping you with the essentials.
Yes, finding our way with breastfeeding can be a stressful and emotional time. It doesn’t have to be. Finding a great lactation consultant is key to having success when you are having difficulties. Don’t wait until you are feeling there is no choice but to supplement and are a frantic mess. Get the assistance you need by getting the right professional help right away. (Read part I on finding breastfeeding support here.)
After baby is born there tends to be many people telling mamas how to breastfeed and what they should be doing. I find that it’s more productive to let mom and baby relax and find their way together for a while before stepping in. Let it happen more naturally without rushing through the process. This time will help baby to transition smoothly to the outside world as he/she recognizes mamas voice and feels safe and loved. If mama can relax and take her time with baby and not have too many people interjecting, she will have better success breastfeeding.
Studies have shown that early initiation of breastfeeding promotes a successful breastfeeding relationship. Every newborn, when placed on the mother’s belly right after birth, has the ability to find it’s mother’s breast on its own and latch on to breastfeed. It’s that instinctive and amazing! They actually root, crawl, and make their way to the breast and latch on. It’s called The Breast Crawl. It not only increases the chances for successful breastfeeding, but also promotes the hormones that increase milk supply and help with milk flow. It aids in a quicker expulsion of the placenta (reducing blood loss) and helps for faster excretion of maconium (baby’s first stool), thus helping prevent jaundice.
Here is just one video that shows this beautiful breast crawl.
Babies and mothers benefit in so many ways by staying close together, skin to skin, after birth. So try taking the first hour after birth to let baby accomplish their first feeding. Weighing the baby, measuring , bathing and any needed injections can be done after breastfeeding is established in that first couple of hours. Remember that baby does best on your unwashed skin and breasts. Take a slow deep breath, get comfortable with baby and enjoy the process.
Note: Medicated births can make baby disorientated; making it more challenging for him/her to find the breast easily. Medications can also give baby a less powerful suck.