It’s breast cancer awareness month and this month we’ve been focusing on all things “breasts.” Last week we discussed the benefits and risks of breastfeeding and I know what you may be thinking…Okay, I’ve decided to breastfeed now what.
You’ve made an amazing decision but breastfeeding your baby can come with its fair share of challenges. Many mothers report problems associated with lactation. To decrease the incidence of breast-related problems due to lactation, mothers must observe the proper techniques of breastfeeding. Ultimately, both the mother as well as the baby will benefit from the proper observance of these techniques.
First of all, you need to prepare your breast for milk production. There are various nipple exercises to perform to prepare your nipple to deliver the breast milk to your baby. One of these exercises would involve routinely pinching the nipple.
Second, you must keep the nipple clean before the baby latches on to it for feeding. When you plan to breastfeed, you should avoid using soap on your nipple. If this cannot be avoided, your nipple should be wiped using a soft cloth soaked in clean water to make sure your nipple is clean and dry before your baby feeds from it.
Third and perhaps the most important step is to allow your baby to properly latch on to your nipple. You will know when your baby is latched on properly when your baby’s mouth covers the entire areola and not just the nipples. It is essential that your baby latch on properly so that he or she can properly stimulate the let-down reflex of your breasts wherein the milk will go down the ducts and out your nipple.
To aid your baby in latching on properly, you should make use of their rooting reflex. This is manifested in the first few months of life. You stimulate your baby’s cheek, near their mouth using your nipple and their head will automatically turn towards the stimulation. Their mouth will open and be ready for receiving your nipple.
Once you’re done, you can aid your baby to stop latching on by inserting a clean pinky finger into the side of their mouth and propping it slightly open. Your baby will stop sucking and you can remove your nipple.
To prevent sore nipples and breast engorgement you have to monitor the amount of time your baby sucks on each nipple. It is usually advisable to spend 10-15 minutes on each breast to make sure that the breasts are completely emptied of milk. This will prevent breast engorgement.
Some moms also choose to pump to help with engorgement as well as store milk for later. You can choose a manual or an electric pump. As you may expect, an electric pump makes pumping much easier. Check with your insurance company before you give birth to see if a pump is covered. Order your pump at least 1 month before your expected due date so you’ll have everything you need to successfully feed your baby breast milk.