Breast feeding is the natural choice for most moms, it's a great gift for your baby. Nursing your newborn can be the most rewarding and satisfying experience. Knowing that you’re providing all the essential nutrients that your child needs in order to grow and thrive is an empowering and gratifying feeling.
It’s never too early to start thinking about how you'll feed your baby. Some women feel strongly that they won't want to nurse (breast feed) their baby, others are very keen. BUT until you try it you won't know! I've seen many women change their minds about nursing after trying it. Even women who were strongly against nursing, were amazed how much they loved doing it and then decided to give it a go.
When you decide how to feed your baby, make sure that no-one has pressured you into doing it against your wishes. Whether you opt for formula feeding or breastfeeding, there is nothing more sure to set you up for problems, than if someone has influenced you against your instincts. It's important that you really want to breast feed and I hope that's what you choose.
While you're nursing your baby (and at any time), he or she will know instinctively how you're feeling. If you're relaxed and happy - baby will know. A relaxed mom will "let down" her milk with no effort and much faster than an anxious mom.
The benefits of breastfeeding are pretty well known. After all Mother’s milk and babies go hand-in-hand; your milk is custom made on the spot for your individual baby. Skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby is the best way to get started with nursing your baby.
Some Reasons To Choose Breastfeeding:
• Breast milk has health benefits for your baby.
• Breast milk is the only natural food designed especially for your baby.
• Breastfeeding provides the best protection to your baby from infections.
• Breastfeeding has health benefits for you.
• Breastfed babies are less likely to become obese.
• It’s available whenever and wherever your baby is hungry.
• Research shows that children who were breastfed as babies have higher IQ’s.
• It’s the perfect temperature; not too hot or too cool.
• It’s free.
• It can build a strong physical and emotional bond between baby and mom.
• It can be incredibly satisfying for you and your baby.
Most moms establish breast-feeding without too many problems, however some women need extra help in the first few weeks or months. This is to be expected for numerous reasons. In some societies it can be quite unusual for a new mama to have seen or know anyone who has breastfed their baby.
Having the experience of witnessing babies being nursed or breastfed is a great way to imprint or learn this ‘natural’ skill. If you think that our ancestors mostly breastfed their babies (and had large families) you can imagine that women generally grew up learning quite a lot about breastfeeding before they became parents themselves.
At the beginning of breastfeeding you need to get assistance so that you can avoid
sore nipple symptoms and other breast feeding problems. Today in some countries we are lucky enough to have breastfeeding support helpers of one type or another. This could be a trained Lactation Consultant, an experienced friend or family member, a nurse-midwife, doctor, Doula or another person you trust. These are often (but not necessarily) women who have breastfed their own babies for several months to a year or longer. The La Leche League (LLL) is one international organization that trains breast feeding helpers.
Ideally once your baby is born the two of you can lay together enjoying skin-to-skin contact. Your partner, midwife or Ob/Gyn will place your newborn onto your chest or abdomen. From here you can both enjoy getting to know each other. This first contact is so important. It gives your baby a chance to boost their immunity by coming in contact with your skin.
Your baby can feel the warmth from your body allowing him or her to regulate their own body temperature. In other words if your baby is slightly cool he will gain heat from you and warm up to the ideal temperature. If he is too hot, some of his heat will be dissipated to you and he’ll cool down to the perfect temperature. In most situations it’s a good idea to cover mom and baby with a sheet or blanket. It may be worth wrapping baby’s bottom in a small soft cotton diaper or towel. You don’t want to get covered in meconium!
Lying on mom’s body is the ideal place for baby to lift his or her head up and see his mom’s face. Yes, newborns do have the strength in their neck muscles to lift up their heads; it’s awesome to see this.
Whatever kind of labor or delivery you have experienced you will usually find that your baby starts looking around for the breast between 30 - 60 minutes after birth. Some babies will do this earlier, others later.
Your baby will start to 'root', snuggle or nuzzle into you to find the breast. Nuzzle means to rub or push against gently with the nose and mouth. This is how they naturally find your breast and nipple and latch on . Babies use their sense of touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste to locate your breast. Therefore, the less other distracting fragrances there are in the room the easier it is for your baby to concentrate on finding the breast.
Your baby will use their immature sense of sight to locate the nipple. That is why your nipples and areola get darker during pregnancy.....so your baby can see them from a distance. He or she will also be listening for your voice, so talk to your baby and give encouraging words as he finds the breast ("yes, you're nearly there, keep trying, I've got lots of yummy colostrum for you" etc).
At Natural-Pregnancy-Midwife.com we recommend you follow your baby’s lead as much as possible. Midwife Suzanne Colson has done many years of research into ‘Biological Nurturing’ or natural breast feeding. I have attended Conferences where she presented her fascinating findings. Midwives and moms alike were in awe of her videos of newborns crawling up mama's body and self-attaching to the breast. All her research is fascinating.
Suzanne found that if left alone (that is safely lying with Mom) newborns and older babies will instinctively find and self-attach themselves to their mom’s breast for feeding (nursing). The easiest position for this is if mom reclines into a comfortable laid-back position on a bed or sofa. Mom’s comfort is of paramount importance. If you're relaxed and comfortable your baby will feel relaxed too and feed more easily.
There should be very few situations where a professional needs to handle your baby or your breast in order to support you with breast feeding. Suzanne’s book and DVD can be bought online .
Many women are worried about not being able to breast feed their baby. It’s reassuring to know that the majority of women are able to nurse their babies. Usually if you want to breastfeed you will succeed.
To Laid-Back, Biological Nurturing Breastfeeding Video link
To Sore Nipples page
To Sore Nipple Symptoms page
To Latching On page