Breastfeeding - The First Steps for You and Your Baby
The first few days of breastfeeding are a brand new experience for both you and your baby. We've put together lots of helpful information from our breastfeeding experts to support you during this time.
Most children are born in clinics where new mothers are guided through breastfeeding for the first time by experienced midwives and breastfeeding counselors. We recommend learning as much as possible from these professionals and place your trust in them - they know exactly what should be done. Your newborn should be breastfed just 30 minutes after birth. Although they will be weak from the stresses of birth they will have a very strong sucking reflex. Breastfeeding early is good for you as well as the baby: it reduces the likelihood of post birth hemorrhaging and sucking relieves post-partum breast engorgement. Almost every newborn can find the nipple without any additional help within just 1 or 2 hours after birth, and even with eyes closed. As soon as something touches the baby's cheek, it will turn in the direction of the touch in search of a source of food. This automatic response pattern follows a stimulus (e.g. touching the cheek) and is called the "seeking reflex". In three to four months' time, this will develop into a behavior which is performed intentionally by the baby.
A breastfeeding tip
It's important when breastfeeding to make sure your baby is not only sucking on the nipple, but also on part of the areola. This helps prevent your nipples from becoming sore.
Breastfeeding is good for both of you
Breastfeeding is good for you and your baby. Breast milk provides your baby with exactly the nutrients it needs in precisely the right amounts. These nutrients are important for healthy development and include substances that help reduce the risk of allergies and asthma. Breast milk is also very easy to tolerate and digest.
The hormone oxytocin, which is released during breastfeeding, not only produces feelings of well-being, but also helps to shrink the uterus. Since breastfeeding requires a lot of energy on your part, it can help you shed extra kilos gained during pregnancy. Plus: Breastfeeding is the most flexible and affordable way to feed your baby.
Relaxed breast feeding and how it works
Breastfeeding promotes the production of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin. Not only is oxytocin responsible for generating positive feelings towards the baby, but it also supports the flow of milk. Since the stress hormone adrenalin prevents the release of oxytocin, you should breastfeed in a calm environment . Prolactin is responsible for milk production: The more often and longer your baby sucks, the more prolactin builds up in the pituitary gland, causing the production of more milk. But prolactin is not only responsible for milk production, it also has a calming effect on you. This is a big help in dealing with day to day baby stress.
A tip from our Midwife
In the first few days of breastfeeding, try a variety of different positions. This will help you relax, prevent your nipples from getting sore and help prevent blocked milk ducts.
Uncertainty during the first few days
You might be asking yourself if you have enough milk for your baby. Or perhaps you're afraid that your baby isn't drinking enough. Should you be experiencing intense post-partum breast engorgement, you might be asking yourself if your baby can drink enough to provide relief. Don't worry: Nature tends to make sure that breastfeeding works. There might be a few problems at the start, but your midwife or breastfeeding counselor will be there to help. In no time at all, you and your baby will make a well-coordinated team. Supply and demand simply need time to balance out.
If you aren't producing very much milk, it can help to try breastfeeding more often. The more frequently you breastfeed, the more milk will be produced. It's okay if you experience low milk production at the start — your baby is born with a fluid reserve which will carry him or her through the first few days. Each and every tiny sip provides your baby with valuable first milk (colostrum). This miracle of nature starts being produced by your body around 4 weeks before the birth of your child. Colostrum is yellow in color and thin, and is especially easy for your baby to tolerate and digest. It also contains antibodies which protect the baby against infection.
Keep in mind that it is completely normal for your baby to lose weight during the first few days after birth. Infants tend to eliminate more than they can consume. Afterwards, your child will begin to gain about 150 to 300 grams a week.
Watch our video guide to breastfeeding
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Always there for you!
Contact our Aptacare expert team. Our experts are nutritionists, midwives and pediatric nurses, and all of them are mothers too. Specially trained breast-feeding experts will be happy to advise you on all your questions regarding breast-feeding.