A few years ago, when I started my practice, I noticed that I was getting only emergency calls from mothers experiencing different problems. The work in private practice is very different than the hospital one. At the hospital, I used to witness the first latch of many babies, and I used to talk to them about the do’s and don’ts of breastfeeding.
Unfortunately, I don’t have many opportunities anymore to tell mommies what to expect in the first days and weeks or what they can do to prevent future problems. But if there’re any future moms or very new moms reading this, I can assure you that you will need to know these six essential things to survive your baby’s first days of life.
1. Don’t forget to do Skin to Skin with your baby within the first hour after birth, and for the next 24 hours. Studies have shown that early Skin to Skin practices increase the levels of oxytocin in mothers and babies and facilitates the latch.
2. Breastfeed ON DEMAND! When babies have unlimited access to the breast since the first day, mommies produce more milk, and they gain weight appropriately.
3. Watch for early signs of hunger. Hands to mouth, sucking motions or noises, and moving the head towards the breast are the typical ways your baby will use to tell you he’s hungry. Remember that crying is a late sign of hunger, which will make it harder for him to latch on.
4. Watch the diapers. From day five till week 6th, expect AT LEAST 3 dirty diapers and five wet diapers daily.
5. Avoid pacifiers and bottles. It’s been demonstrated that early introduction of pacies and bottles can obstacles the establishment of lactation, due to the fast flow from the bottle and the sucking mechanics. If your baby needs supplementation, there’re other ways to provide him with food that are considered more “breastfeeding friendly.”
6. Look for help ASAP if:
- Your baby doesn’t latch on
- You’re in breast pain
- Your baby doesn’t gain enough weight, or
- Has not enough wet and dirty diapers
Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed a baby, but it doesn’t come so natural to most moms (at least in our Western society). It requires some knowledge, support, and, most of all, determination. Now you know it; don’t forget to share with someone you care.