26 Breastfeeding tips for a new mother

Baby milestone

Giving birth to a newborn is a dream for many. Are you a lactating mother? You may have felt the pain when the baby cries for feed. Do you feel the urge to feed the baby when you hear her crying? Here are best breastfeeding tips for you.

Well, there are many misconceptions and very few sources of reliable information are available for lactating mothers. Here we will enlist some breastfeeding tips for you that will help you. 

  • Breastfeeding is a natural process.
  • Get counselled in pregnancy itself.
  • First timers may need some counselling.
  • Breastfeeding is best practice for you and your baby.
  • Initiate it as soon as possible.
  • Continue it for at least 2 years.
  • Keep is adequate, liberal and exclusive.
  • No honey for babies.
  • Supplements as prescribed.
  • Avoid using bottles for feeding.
  • Keep the baby warm.
  • Keep the baby clean.
  • Stay clean.
  • Supportive clothing.
  • Burping after feeding.
  • Vomiting after feeding.
  • Baby poops after feeding.
  • Take adequate sleep.
  • Take adequate food.
  • Good water intake.
  • Avoid addictions.
  • How to know your baby is getting adequate?
  • Continue vaccinations.
  • Seek medical help.
  • What if you have HIV AIDS?
  • What if you are suffering from cancer?

Now let us explain these breastfeeding tips one by one so that it will help you and your baby. If You are a father you can convey these tips to the mother of your baby. Fathers do have an important role to play to support the mother.

26 tips for a lactating mother
26 breastfeeding tips for a new mother

Breastfeeding is a natural process

Are you a mother for the first time? Many mothers are anxious about breastfeeding, so you may.

Let us tell you it is all a natural process. Like you eat, like you sleep, like you walk this too is within the limit of your physical abilities.

Every mother naturally has the urge to feed her  baby when she hears the cry of the baby.

Just be confident and you can do it. It will be very satisfactory for you when your baby sleeps after feeding.

Just some days of difficulty you may face feeding, once you learn how to do that yo will be happy.

Get counselled in pregnancy itself

Counseling about breastfeeding in pregnancy helps for the mother to initiate breast feeding as soon as possible after birth.

It helps to allay the anxiety about feeding in new mothers.

First timers may need some counselling

Still you feel it is difficult and not finding it easy to breastfeed your baby? Do not worry! First timers sometimes need counselling.

A good pediatrician or lactation specialist may help you in this regard. Once the proper way of feeding is established it is easy to continue it.

Counselling helps you to correct the feeding practices and also helps to boost your confidence. 

Correct feeding practices and confidence are the two important pillars of successful breastfeeding.

It may be the fault of timing or positioning while feeding or may be incorrect latch on causing you difficulty in breastfeeding.

Professional advice from a pediatrician or lactation specialist may help you to counter these difficulties.

Breastfeeding is best practice for you and your baby

We have already explained the benefits of breastfeeding in an earlier post.

Breastfeeding is beneficial to mother and baby from the health perspective and in many ways to a family and society.

Breastfeeding helps your baby to grow physically and mentally. It forms a healthy bond between you and your baby. Breastfeeding protects your baby from many diseases.

Initiate it as soon as possible

Normal baby is ready immediately after the birth to accept the feed. Feeding is best established if given within the first half hour of birth.

If not possible in the first half hour of the birth it should be started as soon as possible within 4 hours of birth. Suckling reflex is strongest after birth for 3-4 hours then the baby tends to sleep.

If taken effort within 4 hours of birth, chances of breastfeeding getting established successfully are more. So breastfeeding should be tried as soon as possible after the birth of the baby.

Continue it for at least 2 years

Baby needs only breastfeeding till 6 months of age and no other feed

Complimentary feeding should be started at 6 months of age and gradually increased as suggested by your pediatrician.

Keep it adequate, liberal and exclusive

Breastfeeding contains literally every nutrient needed for the growth of your baby. Your baby does not need any other food till 6 months of age.

Only the thing needed is to provide breastfeeding adequate, liberal and exclusive.

Adequate breastfeeding: For a normal baby with proper latching it takes at least 15-20 minutes to fill his/her tummy with breastmilk. You will feel reduced engorgement and fullness of your breast after baby feeds. If the baby is still hungry, latch the baby to the other breast.

Liberal breastfeeding: You should breastfeed your baby liberally. This implies you should feed your baby when she demands. You will soon in a few days identify the cry for feeding. Initially low birthweight babies may be needed to feed 2-3 hourly. Good weight babies usually cry to feed 3-4 hourly. They may need more feed during day or night varying after every few days.

Exclusive breastfeeding: As we have discussed earlier breast milk contains all the necessary nutrients for the growth of the baby. Baby does not need other feed if a normal baby. No other feed than breastfeeding should be given. Do not give water, honey, ghunti, and suvarnaprashan to a baby less than 6 months old.

No honey for babies

Giving honey is a dangerous practice for babies. This practice is prevalent in Sub Saharan and Asian countries. Honey may be infected with spores of Clostridium botulinum. It can be dangerous to infants less than 1 year old. Botulism is botulinum toxicity and it is life threatening in babies less than 1 year old.

This practice should be avoided and highly discouraged for babies.

Supplements as prescribed

Your baby just gets all the nutrients for the growth from the breast milk. Some supplements may be needed depending on the clinical condition of the baby and the region you are staying.

In some regions Vitamin d3 is found to be deficient in breast milk. The supplementation of Vitamin D3 drops to the baby till 1 year of age may be needed in such regions. It is good to give babies iron supplements starting from age 3 months of age and continuing till 1 year of age. Depending on the clinical condition of the baby other supplements may be needed. These supplements should be given as prescribed by a pediatrician.

A lactating mother generally needs iron and calcium supplements after some months of childbirth till she is breastfeeding her baby. Mother should take supplements depending as per suggestion of her gynaecologists.

Avoid using bottles for feeding

As we have discussed breastfeeding is best for the baby, bottle feeding is a bad practice. We have explained it in an earlier post. It is harmful to babies and mothers and even to families. As far as possible breastfeeding is encouraged and bottle feeding should be discouraged.

Usually some misconceptions in mothers and anxiety whether a child is growing well leads to the start of bottle feeding. Mother should get guidance from a lactation consultant or a pediatrician about feeding practices. Allaying this anxiety is highly beneficial in establishing and continuing breastfeeding.

Keep the baby warm

Cold weather is the biggest enemy for the babies. Once they are born babies lose that comfort they feel in your womb. They are exposed to an environment which is harsh to them.

Babies have larger surface area compared to their body weight. They have a thin layer of protective fat layer below their skin. Their homeostatic mechanism is yet not mature.

In such conditions exposure to cold can lead to hypothermia in babies. It manifests as difficulty in feeding, decreased wakefulness and low blood sugar levels and not gaining weight, even death in babies.

Protect your baby from the cold. You should use protective clothing for them. Keeping babies warm is utmost important.

If you stay in a cold region you can use a room heater. Room heaters should be kept at least 5 feet away from the babies. You can use an air conditioner warmer function if needed.

Keep the baby clean

Baby should be kept clean and neat. You should change the baby diaper when it is wet. You won’t like to eat with dirty clothes on your body. Similarly babies too feel uncomfortable. Additionally not cleaning the baby may lead to a variety of diseases in the baby.

You should cut the nails of the baby with special care. Do not apply kajal or surma to babies. Do not tie black threads and bangles in hands and feet.

If your baby has reactive skin, she/he may suffer from the ornaments containing nickel especially the gold and silver ornaments.

Stay clean

A lactating mother should herself stay clean as dirtiness may harm the baby. Take a daily bath with soap as feasible. Cut your nails as they may contain dirt.

Keep washing hands when before you touch the baby or you come from outside. After delivery personal hygiene should be taken care of as it is very important for the mother and baby.

Supportive clothing

A lactating mother may find it difficult to feed the baby due to type clothes she wears. Lactating mothers should use feeding gowns or the clothing that is very comfortable for her to feed her baby.

A lactating mother should wear a nice supportive and snugly fitting bra that is comfortable to her. The inner clothes should not be too tight or too loose. She should wear clothes that help in feeding the baby.

Burping after feeding

It is important to hold the baby upright with support to her head for 10-20 minutes after feeding. A good burping helps to reduce infantile colic and vomiting in babies.

Vomiting after feeding

Some babies vomit frequently. As a lactating mother you may worry whether your baby is normal. 

Normal babies vomit small volumes of stomach contents that look curdy and small in amount. If the baby is gaining weight adequately and not uncomfortable when this vomit occurs you need not treat that.

If the baby is vomiting a large volume each time, not gaining weight and looks uncomfortable when vomiting you should seek medical advice from a pediatrician.

Baby poops after feeding

As a lactating mother, you may observe that baby poops after feeding. You may be worried and get carried by the misconception that the baby is passing the entire feed in stool immediately after feeding.

Let us clear here the doubt, babies have strong gastro-enteric or gastro-colic reflexes. That is when the stomach is full of milk, the automatic signal goes to the colon of the baby and she poops.

Typically these poops are small in amount and curdy consistency. This may occur after each feed and sometimes look greenish.

If your baby is gaining weight adequately and passing urine adequately you need to do nothing for this. Just keep your bay clean every time she poops.

Take adequate sleep

Advising tips to a lactating mother may look simple but as a mother you only know how difficult it is! Babies do not have a sleep wake cycle similar to you. So he/she may feel hungry and need feeds when you really want to sleep.

Lack of sleep may cause a considerably stressful life to a lactating mother. You should adjust your sleep with your baby. When your baby is sleeping you too should take rest.

For some months after birth babies do not have an established sleep wake cycle and you need to take care of yourself getting adequate sleep.

Take adequate food

There are too many misconceptions about what a lactating mother should eat. The simple answer is you should have homemade healthy balance food.

You can eat literally everything you were eating before pregnancy and during pregnancy provided it is healthy, balanced and preferably homemade. 

A lactating mother needs extra calories and proteins than normal state. She should eat adequately and as frequently as she needs it.

Good water intake

A lactating mother should drink adequate water as needed. Adequate amounts of water needed to maintain the good homeostasis and avoid constipation.

Avoid addictions

A lactating mother should avoid addictions as it may affect you and your baby directly and indirectly.

Those babies whose mother or other family members have a habit of smoking in the house have increased chances of sudden infant death syndrome and increased chances of allergic diseases.

Other addictions may affect babies directly as they can get secreted in breast milk.

How to know your baby is getting adequate?

As a lactating mother you may be rightly anxious to know whether your baby is getting adequate nutrients.

If your baby is getting adequate nutrients he/she will gain weight adequately roughly 10-30 grams a day or more. She/he will achieve all milestones at the appropriate time.

Are you still anxious? Meet us in person. We will examine your baby.

Continue vaccination

Vaccination protects your baby from multiple diseases. Continue the vaccination as per advice of your pediatrician or meet us in person.

We have explained the importance of vaccination on another page.  

Seek medical help

You should seek medical help for any of your queries. You should seek medical help if:

  • Baby is not feeding normally.
  • Baby is crying excessively.
  • If the baby is lethargic and not playful.
  • If you think there is something abnormal than routine.

What if you have HIV AIDS?

A lactating mother who has known HIV infection needs special care from pregnancy itself. You and your baby should continue prophylactic drugs to stop the spread of HIV infection from mother to baby.

The prophylactic drugs dramatically reduce the chances of your baby getting infected with HIV virus from you. The decision about breastfeeding or top feeding should be taken in consultation with a pediatrician.

What if you are suffering from cancer?

If unfortunately you are suffering from cancer and you are a lactating mother, your doctor will advise you regarding breastfeeding. Some cancer therapy drugs are likely to get secreted in breast milk and may be harmful to mother.

You should ask your doctor about this issue, if unfortunately it arises with you.

<mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-luminous-vivid-orange-color">Dr Yatin Bhole MBBS DCh DNB</mark>
Dr Yatin Bhole MBBS DCh DNB

This article was written by Dr Yatin Bhole who is practicing Pediatrician at Bhole Children Clinic, Ravet. This post is for general information and before applying it on yourself, you should meet your doctor or meet us in person.

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