6 Practical Breastfeeding tips for new moms
The month of August is observed as World Breastfeeding Awareness Month, a celebration held yearly to protect and promote breastfeeding globally. The theme for this year was to ‘Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding’. Empowered parents are more likely to sustain breastfeeding for a longer period of time. In line with this year’s theme, we will be sharing practical breastfeeding tips for new moms as well as ten steps to successful breastfeeding as outlined by WHO and UNICEF.
Practical breastfeeding tips for new moms
As natural as breastfeeding is, it does not come automatically. In fact, most moms will experience some difficulties learning how to breastfeed. This can be very overwhelming as a new mother takes up her new role. To help you through this journey, we are sharing practical breastfeeding tips for new moms.
1. Nurse as soon as possible after birth
Try to make sure that you nurse within an hour after delivery, unless medically indicated. As mentioned in the Ten Steps above, this is a great way to initiate breastfeeding. Many moms are often discouraged because it seems like they are producing very little milk. You need not beat yourself up as your newborn’s stomach is just about the size of a grape. As you continue to nurse, your milk production will increase with baby’s demand.
Read More: Breastfeeding: How families can support moms
2. Practice latching to get the right position
Once breastfeeding has been initiated after birth, the next most important thing is to get the correct latch. Latching simply refers to the baby’s position during breastfeeding. Incorrect latching makes breastfeeding painful. If done correctly, however, it reduces the chances of cracked nipples and provides for a wonderful bonding experience between mother and baby. Below are simple steps you can practice to get a good latch.
- Learn your baby’s cues for hunger. When your baby is hungry, they may stick their tongue out, suck on their lip or become a little fussy. Crying, according to the American Pregnancy Association, is a late hunger cue and may complicate breastfeeding sessions.
- Get comfortable, making sure your back and feet are well supported. You may use a breastfeeding pillow if you have one, for extra support. Regular pillows also provide great support.
- Hold your baby so that you face each other tummy-to-tummy.
- Bring the baby to you, and NEVER the other way round. Leaning forward to the baby strains your neck and shoulders, and interferes with proper latching.
- Ensure that the ear, shoulder and hip of the baby are in proper alignment. Additionally, the baby’s nose may touch your breast.
- Hold the breast to help guide the nipple to your baby. Tickle the baby’s mouth with the nipple so that baby opens the mouth. When the mouth is wide open, place the nipple in and try to get as much of the lower part or the areola inside the mouth. The areola is that dark area that surrounds the nipple.
This YouTube video demonstrates how to get a proper latch when breastfeeding
How will you know if baby has latched correctly?
When the baby has latched correctly, their lips ought to purse out and cover most of the areola. At this point, they resemble fish lips. Additionally, the baby should be making low-pitched noises as they swallow the milk. Whenever the baby makes loud smacking noises, or there is pain while nursing, this is an indication of an incorrect latch.
3. Leaking is common
Do not be worried when you find yourself leaking. It is not uncommon for new moms to leak milk, especially when the baby has not nursed for a while, or when they feel strong emotions. To counter this, simply use nursing pads to absorb the leaks.
4. Take care of your breasts
With constant nursing, the skin can become very dry and easily irritated over a period of time. This makes nursing an uncomfortable experience. Protect the skin by patting the breasts with a soft cloth after every nursing session. You may also ‘air’ the breasts from time to time to ease irritation when the nipples rub against the bra. Some moms find that using a nipple cream helps moisturize the skin.
5. Breastfeed often to prevent engorgement
Engorgement refers to the painful swelling of the breasts in a breastfeeding mother. This happens when milk production exceeds the baby’s consumption. Engorgement makes it hard for mothers to breastfeed, and compounds the swelling of the breasts as milk accumulates. In order to prevent this, it is advisable to breastfeed the baby as often as possible. Expressing milk by hand, especially under a warm shower helps ease the pain and allows milk to flow.
6. Do not be afraid to ask for help with breastfeeding
Lastly, do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Breastfeeding is natural, but it is not automatic. While at the hospital, the nurse or midwife will assist you with proper positioning and information on breastfeeding. If you still experience challenges, make sure to consult a lactation expert.
Ten steps for successful breastfeeding in health care facilities – a guideline presented by WHO/UNICEF
Having outlined practical breastfeeding tips for new moms, it is also important to highlight the role that health care facilities play in supporting and promoting breastfeeding. Health care facilities that offer maternity services play a key role in the establishment and promotion of breastfeeding. The Ten Steps was presented to the world back in 1989 through a joint effort by WHO and UNICEF. Three decades later, the steps have been implemented in many hospitals across Kenya.
The ten steps are as follows:
Each health care facility offering maternity services and care for newborns should:
Critical Management Procedures
1a. Comply fully with the International code of Marketing of Breast Milk substitutes and relevant World Health Assembly resolutions.
1b. Have a written infant feeding policy that is routinely communicated to staff and parents.
1c. Establish ongoing monitoring and data-management systems.
- Ensure that staff have sufficient knowledge, competence and skills to support breastfeeding.
Key Clinical Practices
- Discuss the importance and management of breastfeeding with pregnant women and their families.
- Facilitate immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and support mothers to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth.
- Support mothers to initiate and maintain breastfeeding and manage common difficulties.
- Do not provide breastfed newborns any foods or fluids other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
- Enable mothers and their infants to remain together and to practise rooming-in 24 hours a day.
- Support mothers to recognize and respond to their infants’ cues for feeding.
- Counsel mothers on the use and risk of feeding bottles, teats and pacifiers.
- Coordinate discharge so that parents and their infants have timely access to ongoing care and support.
The implementation of these ten steps across maternity health care facilities has been seen to improve the rate of breastfeeding, with notable impact on exclusive breastfeeding and the entire period that a mom breastfeeds her child.
For additional reading on the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding, visit this website.
Tunza Mama services include:
- Birth preparation classes to help you prepare and relax as you await the birth of your baby
- Postnatal Care Education to help new moms with practical breastfeeding tips as they transition to their new role as mothers.
Call us on 0709 256200 for more information or to get connected to a Tunza Mama caregiver (normal call tariffs apply)