Breastfeeding looks easy because it’s the most natural thing in the world, but is it? The answer is no, not at all, especially the early days with a newborn, which may take hours to get it right. With my first baby, every time I fed him, I kept asking myself if he’s attached correctly? Is he sucking the right way? Do I have enough milk for him? Is he still hungry? But I bet all expert mothers have the same questions while feeding their newborns because that’s just how it is. But worry not mommies, I’ve gathered all the evidence for you to know if your baby is breastfeeding normally or not. I also have some effective tips on how you can easily attach your baby to your breast, and I am sure that with these tips, you’ll be able to get breastfeeding right in no time.
Breastfeeding offers certain health benefits for babies and moms alike. Breastfed babies have stronger immune systems, less diarrhea, constipation, gastroesophageal reflux, ear infections, colds, respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and whooping cough, and lower rates of SIDS. For moms, breastfeeding promotes weight loss, less postpartum bleeding, fewer urinary tract infections, fewer chances of anemia, and less risk of postpartum depression. So, breastfeeding is the best gift you can give to your baby and yourself. Newborns tend to breastfeed frequently, about 12 times a day, due to their smaller stomachs and fast metabolic rates. To know if your baby is breastfeeding the right amount, keep checking your baby’s weight and growth. If your baby is growing normally and has the right weight, then there’s nothing to worry about. You can know if your baby is attaching right by noticing his chin pressed into your breast, his lips flanged out, his cheeks not sucked in, your breast moving with the sucking, him pausing and resting, and sucking and swallowing. If everything is normal and your breasts feel lighter after sucking, then know that your baby is sucking perfectly fine and is getting the nutrition that he needs. Furthermore, if you are keen on breastfeeding your baby, then make sure that you talk about it with your doctor/midwife, offer your baby breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth, have your baby contact you skin-to-skin, hold your baby more to let him know your smell and feel, stay patient and avoid offering your baby bottles to avoid the confusion. These simple yet effective techniques will help your baby latch onto your breasts easily with no hassle whatsoever.
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How do I know if my baby is attached to my breast correctly?
Notice the following signs while breastfeeding your baby to see if they are doing it right:
- Your baby’s chin should be pressed into your breast, but your nose should be clear.
- His lips shouldn’t be sucked inwards.
- Your baby’s tongue should be over his lower gum. If you notice any pain in your nipple, it certainly means that his tongue is not lying over his bottom gum.
- Baby should cover your nipple and some of your areola while sucking.
- You should not feel any pain except for the nipple stretching, which is most likely to disappear after a minute or two of nursing.
- Notice your baby’s jaw moving with the sucking.
- Your baby’s ears will wiggle in synchrony with the jaw.
- Your baby’s cheeks shouldn’t be sucked. This is the sign that your baby has created a good seal around your nipple.
- Your baby shouldn’t slide off your nipple.
- Your baby will pause and rest during active and strong sucking.
- Your breast will move with his sucking.
- Your baby is likely to suck a few times before swallowing. So do not expect your baby to suck and swallow.
- You will have a pulling sensation throughout your breast during nursing.
- You may feel a letdown or milk ejection response, a painful sensation where your milk starts flowing from the other nipple. This might change your baby’s sucking and swallowing pattern, but it’s normal.
- Your baby is sucking happily and not crying or pulling away from your breast.
- He may have a loud or quiet sucking depending upon his hunger.
- Your baby is most likely to have some milk coming out of his mouth from the corners.
- Your baby will pull off when full and may even fall asleep afterward.
- You will notice your baby’s fingers stretched during active sucking. This shows the concentration and effort he is putting into sucking.
- You will feel soft and lighter in your breasts after feeding your baby. If your baby has been sucking correctly, then you will definitely feel the difference in your breasts.
Tips on attaching your baby to your breast
Be very gentle with your baby and try not to control his attachment too much because babies are born with inbuilt reflexes. Due to your baby’s powerful reflexes, he will seek, find, and attach to your breast himself, which is also a sign of a healthy baby.
Most mothers like to hold their baby in a traditional cradle manner, where the inner elbow supports the baby’s head, and the baby’s body is aligned with their mother’s forearm. But always go for the position that’s convenient for you or your baby.
Follow these tips to make sure that you and your baby have a successful breastfeeding experience:
- Share your intentions of breastfeeding your baby with your doctor or midwife. They will make sure that your baby is placed right next to your breasts right after birth.
- Make sure to let your baby breastfeed right after birth. If your baby is too sleepy or seems uninterested in breastfeeding, then make sure that you still place your baby’s head against your breasts.
- Provide enough skin-to-skin touch to your baby.
- Make sure to hold your baby close frequently. This will help your baby know your smell and touch.
- While holding your baby, notice if your baby’s head is bobbing. This means that he is looking for the nipple to latch on. Sometimes your baby may open a very wide mouth and sweep his little head from one side to another and lick the breast. All these actions will help him locate your nipple for breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding is not as simple as it seems, so be patient and trust the process. This skill may take weeks or even months before you master it.
- Do not hesitate to relatch your baby several times if you are having pain from nursing.
- You will feel nipple pain during the first few days of nursing, which is quite normal. But if it’s too painful and nipples seem like they would bleed any moment, then make sure to follow a care plan for a few days, and everything will be back to normal in no time.
- Keep your newborn away from bottles and pacifiers as it may lead to confusion and affect your breastfeeding process.
Signs that your baby is taking in enough breast milk
To know how effective your baby is breastfeeding, look for the following signs:
- Your baby has the right weight according to his age and is growing normally.
- Your baby is wetting at least 6 or more nappies a day. His urine should be clear and shouldn’t smell strong.
- His poop is soft and yellow. Newborns who have enough milk intake tend to poop 5-6 times a day until they are a couple of months old. Your baby will most likely have less dirty nappies when his gut is mature and able to digest better.
- Your baby’s growth curve should either stay the same for his weight, head circumference, and length or climb higher. If his growth curve is dropping, then it’s an indication that your baby is not growing normally and needs to be checked by a pediatrician.
The average growth rate for babies:
|Around 150-200 grams/week
|Around 100-150 grams/week
|Around 70-90 grams/week
It’s natural to wonder how breastfeeding and latching work and, most importantly, how it should feel. The understanding of how a good latch feels will help you know If your baby is latching properly or not.
Sometimes you may experience nipple pain even if you are doing it correctly. This is probably because your breasts have not adapted to nursing 8-12 times a day.
The most important part of breastfeeding is to make sure that your baby is developing normally and has the right weight. If not, your baby probably has trouble breastfeeding and needs to be assessed by a pediatrician.
Let me know how helpful this article was for you, in the comments below!