6 Things Every New Mom should Know about Breastfeeding
New moms, breastfeeding doesn’t come as naturally as you might think. But it doesn't mean you can’t work your way up to know how to do it successfully. Here, we compiled some things you should know to overcome the challenges that breastfeeding may bring.
1. Your body changes while you’re breastfeeding.
It’s not exactly news: Breastfeeding is hard work. It takes an emotional and physical toll on our bodies who nurtured a human being for 9 months! We heard the old adage that breastfeeding can change your body. Admittedly, it was "frightening" to have known this during pregnancy.
But one thing I realize is that the courage to major changes can make all the difference. The benefits that you and your baby can get in breastfeeding definitely outweigh its possible challenges. It also helps that lactation consultants, birth counselors, support groups and doctors are there to help us to adapt to our changing physique.
Here are some changes/challenges you may encounter:
- Sore and cracked nipples
- Engorgement (overly full breasts)
- Overactive letdowns
2. You may experience pain in your back, wrist, and shoulder.
Don’t panic when you feel pain when nursing. Mothers that are hunched most of the time while breastfeeding can experience back pain.
Aside from this, you can expect a lingering soreness to your shoulder and wrist. Cradling your baby for a long time can cause a heavy strain on your wrist and shoulder.
It is crucial that you give yourself some relaxing time to rejuvenate your body.
3. Let down reflex is normal.
Aside from the occasional pain, you may also feel a tingling sensation in your breasts after your baby starts to suckle. Known as the letdown reflex AKA milk ejection reflex - makes the milk in your breasts available to your baby. It triggers nerves in the nipple and involves muscles in the breast to squeeze the milk out.
It can be a normal letdown for some of us. But for some, it can be a slow, a hyperactive or a painful letdown. It is important that you know how to deal with it. If you experience a slow letdown, you can try pumping to help stimulate your let-down reflex. It is also crucial to eat a proper and healthy diet.
For mothers that suffer a painful letdown, breastfeeding can be a lot more uncomfortable for you. You may experience getting swollen breasts or sore nipples. To combat the signs of a painful letdown, you can consult your doctor for help. You can also ask if taking medications can be an option for you.
When you have a hypersensitive letdown instead, you may notice that your breast produces too much breast milk quickly. This can cause your baby to choke and gag when feeding. Also, a hypersensitive letdown also induces the milk to leak heavily out of your breast. You can try waiting for the milk flow to slow down before feeding your baby. Lying back while nursing can also help to combat the strong letdown.
4. Public breastfeeding is natural, not awkward or embarrassing.
In some countries, public breastfeeding is legally protected. There is no obligation to cover up or go to a nursing or private room to breastfeed.
Fret not: breastfeeding in public can be a daunting task at first. It can make some of us feel nervous or awkward with the idea. Yet, it is more natural than you think. It is within our rights to breastfeed our baby anywhere as his/her hunger is beyond our control. We fully believe that breastfeeding is natural! Breasts should be treated as a primary source for the child’s nourishment and not as sex objects.
5. The perfect latch is important to know!
Because improper latch may cause your baby not to get enough milk...which will affect your milk supply in the long run. Assist your baby when latching on by opening his/her mouth wide. Then, help your baby to take as much of your areola into his or her mouth as possible.
Incorrect latching can be both frustrating and painful. Aside from lower milk transfer, mothers may get clogged ducts (ouch!) and may cause gassy babies too. If manually helping your baby to latch does not help, consult with your doctor or a lactation professional for an expert’s advice. There could be other underlying causes like lip and tongue ties.
6. You can get help from professionals and find a boost from galactagogues
First of all, breastfeeding is not a battle you should fight alone. Your husband, family, and friends will be always there for you to help you in the process. If you find yourself having difficulty with breastfeeding, don’t hesitate to ask for help. For professional help, you can seek assistance from your doctor, your baby's doctor, lactation consultants, and birthing professionals.
With their expertise, you can expect quick and efficient help that will solve your breastfeeding problems.
It's also helpful to know the food that might help you with milk supply boost! It varies from fruits, herbs, vegetables, and tea. Galactagogues help in increasing milk production. So if you’re experiencing low breast milk supply, lactogenic food is something you can consider. But do take note that effective milk removal is your main goal to boost supply!
What do you think is the biggest revelation or challenge you've encountered while breastfeeding? Tell us in the comments below!