Breastfeeding your newborn is the first and very important “mommy duties” that a mother must do. This is one of the best way to nurture your little one. That is why it is necessary that you know how to do the right way of breastfeeding with this Breastfeeding 101 tips!
Why? Breastfeeding will definitely be beneficial for you and especially your baby’s health because it will be their natural food for the first 6 months.
If you want to achieve a good breastfeeding experience, here are tips that can guide you as you prepare for the big day!
Breastfeeding 101: Why should I Breastfeed my baby?
Continue to read this Breastfeeding 101 tips to understand how good breastmilk is for your baby.
- Gives the ideal nutrients to your baby that helps in your baby’s growth
- Protects your baby from infections and health problems like asthma, allergies, ear infections, respiratory illnesses, diarrhea and diabetes
- Aids in brain development of your baby
- Helps to achieve and maintain good weight of your baby
- Helps you r baby’s immune system to build antibodies
- Lowers the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and malnutrition
Breastfeeding allows your baby to get Colostrum. It is the first milk your mammary gland will produce that can boost your baby’s immune system. Colostrum is a yellow-colored and nutrient-rich fluid.
When possible, you should consider rooming-in your baby after giving birth so you can breastfeed immediately.
While breastfeeding is in no question the best for your baby, it also ha benefits for you as a new mom:
- Helps reduce postpartum bleeding
- Lowers risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis
- Aids in burning extra calories from pregnancy weight
- Promotes mother-and-child bonding
- Practical and convenient
- Works as a natural contraceptive. Breastfeeding would delay your menstrual period.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), it is highly recommended that newborn babies be fed by exclusive breastfeeding up to six months.
Infants must only receive breastmilk only and no other form of liquids (even water) until they rerach six months.
Breastfeeding 101: How can I prepare myself for breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is a new task that you need to take as a new mom. Therefore, you should be ready not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally in doing this.
While it is a normal thing to do for new moms like you, bear in mind that you should do an informed decision for it.
First, you have to asses yourself by asking yourself questions to guide you on our decision-making.
Here are example questions:
- What is initial my feeding plan for my baby?
- Why am I considering breastfeeding?
- Am I healthy enough to do breastfeeding?
- Is there a milk formula that I’m considering to substitute breastfeeding?
- Will milk formula be good for my baby?
If you decide to breastfeed, you need support from you partner, family, friends and yourself as well.
Encourage your partner to help you with our everyday needs as a new mom.
Share the tasks with your partner so you could take the time to breastfeed your baby. It is also advisable that your partner limit visitors, calls and other form of interruptions to give you time to rest.
Your family members and friends particularly those who are mothers too can give you the mother-to-mother support by sharing their breastfeeding experience.
You may join Pre-natal classes, online breastfeeding support groups and attend seminars on breastfeeding.
During breastfeeding, you must ensure that you are taking care of yourself. You should eat healthy foods, get enough rest and feel good about yourself.
Here is an example of a daily diet for breastfeeding moms:
– 2-3 servings of food rich in protein such as meat, fish and poultry
– 3 servings of vegetables
– 2 servings of fruit daily
Aside from these nutritious foods, don’t forget to buy yourself a nursing bra for your own comfort! You can equip yourself as well with information on breastfeeding by reading materials related to breastfeeding.
While this Breastfeeding 101 tips are truly helpful, if you feel you need professional opinion, go ahead and talk to a doctor.
Breastfeeding 101 : What are the reasons not to Breastfeed?
Below are exceptional cases why breastfeeding is not advisable or even possible.
- The mother has a medical condition that can be contagious
- The baby needs to be provided with special milk formula due to medical reasons
- The mother is taking prescription drugs and undergoing treatments like chemotherapy
- The mother and the baby were separated
In cases like these, there are options such as giving donor milk (milk from non-biological mother) or allowing wet-nursing (feeding from another mother’s breast).
Remember, if none of these conditions applies to you, then breastfeeding will be a good decision.
Resorting to formula for your newborn baby, can cause decrease your milk supply and can lead to your baby quitting even if you have no plans yet. It would require effort to go back to breastfeeding if this happens.
Breastfeeding 101: How do I breastfeed my baby?
As new mom, you will have to learn many things on how to do the right way of breastfeeding.
Read and follow these helpful tips from our Breastfeeding 101 article for a successful breastfeeding experience.
Hand expressing Breastmilk or using your hands to get milk
You must learn this very useful skill as it can help in breastfeeding such as the following:
- Doing this can help you produce a few drops and get your baby interested in latching
- Can relieve soreness of your breasts by rubbing a few drops of milk onto your nipples
- If your breasts are very full and feel uncomfortable, hand expressing can help you release milk and soften your breast
- You can do this if you need storing breastmilk in a container
These are the steps on how to Hand Express Breastmilk, which you should practice either as soon as you have given birth or better, a week or two before your due date.
- Wash your hands properly
- Go to a spot where you a comfortable and relaxed
- Do a soft massage on your breast, from the chest wall going to your nipple
- You may also try putting a warm towel on your breast for a few minutes
- Using your one hand, place your fingers in a compressing position, with your thumb and fingers opposite at each other
- Gently press your breast inwards going to your chest
- Compress your breast softly, but avoid rubbing the skin
- Pause to relax your fingers than repeat. Remember not to squeeze the base your nipple as it could stop the milk flow and cause your breast to sore
- Continue until your milk is no longer flowing
- Moving your fingers around your breast will help you to express from your whole breast
- You can switch hands and hand express with both breasts
- If in case you cannot feed your baby directly from your breast, you may collect the milk using a small spoon or cup
As you continue breastfeeding, it would be better if you start feeding using the fullest breast.Most of the time, it is the last breast your baby had his/her last feed.
You can sense it yourself or if not you can place a ribbon on our bra or wear a bracelet to remember. But if you’re baby’s last feed was only with one breast, offer the one that he/she did not feed from on the next breastfeeding session.
It would be better and healthier if your baby feeds on both of your breasts regularly.You may opt to do “switch nursing”, wherein your baby will feed from both of your breasts in one session. Always offer your other breast if your baby is still hungry.
Don’t be afraid to run out of milk as your breast will continue producing milk even while you are feeding.
When you feel that your baby is no longer suckling, you can gently slip your finger in between your nipple and baby’s mouth to break the latch.
Breastfeeding 101: Breastfeeding Positions
Breastfeeding is a learning process for a new mom like you.
There are many different breastfeeding positions that you can explore here in Breastfeeding 101. However, you and your baby’s comfortability and safety define the acceptable position.
A good position will allow you and your baby make the most of the breastfeeding experience.
Breastfeeding is also a special mother-and-child bonding that will allow you to build an early relationship with your child.
Below are some points to remember that you can apply to any of the breastfeeding positions we will discuss.
- Your back should always be well-supported
- You and your baby should not feel any pain or discomfort
- Your baby’s ear, shoulder and hip must be aligned in a straight line.
- Your baby’s nose must be free for proper breathing
- Position you baby’s head slightly tilted to let him latch and swallow easily
- Have drink ready that is just within your reach before breastfeeding
On the other hand, here are the general steps on how to breastfeed your baby.
- When you feel that your baby is now ready to breast feed, bring him/her closer to your breast
- Support your baby’s shoulder so he/she can freely move her head
- Use your one hand as a guiding hand to hold your breast
- Cup your breast but make sure you are not touching your areola
- Position your baby’s mouth at the height of you nipple. You have to wait for your baby’s mouth to be wide-open before you can gently introduce your areola into his/her mouth using your guiding hand.
- Your nipple and areola must be inside your baby’s mouth, but you don’t need to push your baby towards your breast.
- To know if your baby latches well, his/her chin is pressed about an inch into your breast; his/her head is titled back; and the tip of his nose will touch your breast.
Here are the different Breastfeeding positions and a step-by-step guide on how you can do it:
Laid-back Breastfeeding Position (Biological Nurturing)
- Use pillows to support your head and whole back
- Put yourself in a sitting position, but a bit slouching
- Do a skin-to skin with your baby by placing him/her on top of you. Make sure your baby’s head is aimed towards your breast
- Secure your baby’s position using your both hands
- If correctly positioned, your baby will start to look for your breast. He/She will lift up his/her head and use hands to find your nipple. Once ready, your baby will start to latch and suckle
Cradle Position (when breastfeeding from the right breast)
- Carry your baby sideways using your right arm
- Let your baby be in a lying down position.
- Support your baby’s head with your right forearm near the elbow. Your right hand should catch your baby’s bottom.
- You may use your left hand as the guiding hand to introduce your breast or use it as a support to your right arm
- A pillow can be used for extra support
Cross-cradle position (when breastfeeding from the right breast)
- Open your left hand to catch the back of your baby’s head
- Hold your baby facing towards your right breast using your left arm
- Your left forearm must support your baby’s body
- Your baby’s bottom is clipped between your arms and body. Make sure not to make it too tight and that our baby’s unexposed arm is positioned safely
- Use your right hand as the guiding hand to introduce your breast
- A pillow can be used for extra support
Foot-ball hold position (when breastfeeding from the right breast)
- Have a pillow laid out and place your right arm on top of the pillow for support
- Open your right hand to catch the back of your baby’s head. Place your baby on top of your right hand that is already placed on top of the pillow
- Hold your baby facing towards your right breast using your right arm
- Your baby’s lower body must between your elbow and side body, with his/her legs and feet extending towards your back
- Use your left hand as the guiding hand to introduce your breast
Lying Down – Do this position if you are tired
- Lie on your side with your head tilted but supported by your arms
- Put a pillow at the back of your head for support or our may opt to add more for your back and in between your knees
- Have your baby lie near you with his/her head near placed at the same level of your breast
- Use your one hand to support your baby’s shoulders and back and position your baby facing your breast
- Your baby’s chin must be pressed against your breast and his/her nose is level with your nipple
- Pull your baby close when he/she opens his/her mouth wide
Breastfeeding 101: Breastfeeding in Public
Do this ONLY if you are not comfortable to breastfeed in public places.
But always keep in mind that you are not required to cover-up or got to covered places just to feed your baby.
You may always breastfeed anywhere.
- During your lactation period, it is advisable that you bring scarf or wear a loose jacket over your top when going out. You may use these to cover your breast and your baby while feeding.
- You may also wear buttoned shirts/blouses so that you don’t have to pull-up your clothing when breastfeeding.
- If inside a building or an establishment, inquire politely if a lactation station is available
Breastfeeding 101: How can I achieve a good milk supply?
When you were pregnant, your body has been preparing for producing milk for breastfeeding. Prolactin and Oxytocin are the hormones involved in breastfeeding.
Prolactin is the one responsible for milk production. To increase your Prolactin, you may do the following:
- Breastfeed your baby frequently
- Stimulate your breast either by breastfeeding, hand expressing or pumping 8 times within 24 hours
Oxytocin helps in the let-down process or the releasing your milk from your breast. It is formed when you breastfeed, hand express or pump. When you let-down your milk, you may experience the following:
- Tingling in your breast
- Milk leaking from one or both breasts
- Feel contractions or cramps
Another way to release your breastmilk is by doing reverse pressure softening.
Here are the steps:
- place your fingers lightly on each side of your areola
- push it towards your ribs then hold for a minute
- rotate the position of your fingers then repeat
Reverse pressure softening will help soften your areola for better latching of your baby.
Here are some foods that you can eat that can try to increase your milk supply:
- Oats – helps to produce oxytocin
- Garlic – according to studies baby’s tend to latch longer after the mother consumes garlic. It may also have chemical components that can contribute in lactation.
- Green leafy vegetables – great source of vitamins and minerals. Green leafy veggies may contain chemicals like estrogen that could improve breast tissue health and lactation.
- Fenugreek seeds – A common herb that have been for centuries to increase milk production. Like green leafy vegetables, it contains phytoestrogens, that can increase breastmilk
- Moringa – a study by UP Department of Pediatrics stated that moringa capsules can help mothers who have low milk supply
- Nuts (e.g. almonds, macadamia nuts) – contains monounsaturated fats that can help make breastmilk richer
Breastfeeding 101: What issues would I encounter during Breastfeeding?
Once you start breastfeeding, you must be observant on changes that your breast may undergo. Breastfeeding must not be a painful experience.
Yes, you may feel a tug on the first latch of your baby, but pain that does not subside is not normal.
Listed here in Breastfeeding 101 are the usual issues that lactating mothers experience.
While there are ways on how to manage them all by yourself, it would still be best to seek for medical advice if you have doubts and worries.
Poor latching of your baby may cause sore nipples. It may occur 1-4 days after you have given birth.
You would usually feel pain at the start of breastfeeding but goes away after a few minutes.
Sometimes, it may even make your nipples misshaped and bleed.
You must help your baby latch properly to avoid sore nipples.
Always make sure that your baby’s mouth is open wide and is latched on to your areola while feeding.
During the first few weeks of breastfeeding, chances are you will have interrupted sleep especially at night.
Having less sleep and rest can definitely make you feel tired.
To cope with this, time management is one remedy you can do.
- If your baby sleeps during the day, you can take advantage of it by resting too
- Go to bed early with your baby
- At night, keep your baby close to you by placing his/her crib beside your bed for easier access. You must also keep the things you need close to your reach
- Ask your partner or family member to help you with burping or looking after the baby if you don’t need to breastfeed
If the feeling of fatigue worsens and anxiety kicks in, consult your doctor to know if you are undergoing postpartum depression.
If you feel that your breast is firm, swollen and painful, it is engorged.
This usually happens for the following possible reasons-
- on the first week of breastfeeding, when your colostrum is already transitioning to breastmilk
- your breasts are overloaded with milk that is not fully released during breastfeeding
- shift in blood flow in your breasts
To prevent engorgement, you must start breastfeeding immediately, possibly, after giving birth.
Avoid bottle-feeding or use of pacifiers if your baby has not fully learned to latch.
If your breastmilk is already flowing, you must feed your baby at least 8 times with 24 hours.
It is also recommended that you use both breasts for nursing.
Here’s how you can relieve your breasts when experiencing engorgement:
- Apply cold compress to your swollen breast after feeding
- Express milk either by hand or pump to soften your areola
- You may wear a well-supported but comfortable bra that is not too tight or go bra-less
- Gently massage your breast after feeding
- Do reverse pressure softening before breastfeeding (see How to Make my breastmilk abundant?)
- Ask your doctor if you may take Ibuprofen for the pain and inflammation
If you experience fever of the swelling does not go away after two weeks, you must see your doctor.
After two weeks if your breast are less full and softens, it only means that the swelling is gone but your milk supply is not affected.
A blocked duct will prevent your breastmilk from flowing to your nipples.
You will notice the following symptoms if you experience this breastfeeding issue:
- you will notice a lump or a part of your breast has become firm that does not go away after breastfeeding
- pain and redness may also be present
- the affected part of your breast has a warmer temperature
- there will be milk bleb or white painful dot on your nipple
What to do when experiencing blocked duct:
- Apply warm compress to the affected breast or take a warm shower before breastfeeding
- Switch positions when breastfeeding. Try to feed your baby while leaning on all fours as gravity may help remove the block
- Gently massage or rub the lump while feeding
- Ensure your bra or clothing is not too tight
- Check your nipple for any dry milk that might be causing the blockage
If your blocked duct symptoms won’t go away and worsens; or you contract fever, body aches and chills, please contact your doctor immediately.
Mastitis is the inflammation of the breast that happens during breastfeeding.
Known causes of mastitis include severe blocked duct; or when bacteria from baby’s mouth or the mother’s skin surface enters the cracked nipple then to the milk duct.
Usually, it only affects one breast, but if untreated it may develop further into an infection.
Early signs and symptoms may include pain or burning sensation, swelling, warmth and redness.Sometimes it may be accompanied with fever and fatigue. Note that you may still continue to breastfeed even under this condition.
Actually, you need to frequently breastfeed in order to get rid of your breastmilk.
If you cannot tolerate pain to breastfeed, you may hand or pump express your milk.Warm compress with gentle breast massage and warm baths may help relieve pain.
It is recommended also to try different breastfeeding positions and switch breasts when feeding. You may also want to wear a more comfortable bra when experiencing mastitis.
If you feel very ill and pain in your breast escalates, see your doctor. Prescription medicine for mastitis would usually be pain relievers and antibiotic. Make sure you follow prescribed dosage even if you feel better. Ask your doctor if it I safe to breastfeed while on medication.
Thrush is an infection caused by a yeast called candida fungus.
During breastfeeding, you and your baby may get this infection.The yeast may suddenly grow in your nipples or in your baby’s mouth or diaper area.
If you have this condition, you may experience soreness, itchiness, redness and a burning sensation in your nipples.
Pain may also be present even if your baby is already doing a deep latch and you have been trying different breastfeeding positions.
Your baby on the other hand will also have signs and symptoms of thrush. One is the formation of a white patch inside your baby’s mouth that may spread on the inside of cheeks, gums and tongue. Rubbing it off with cloth will not work.
Another symptom is the presence of red and patchy diaper rash on your baby’s bottom that diaper creams cannot relieve.
Though your baby will experience discomfort while latching, you must still continue breastfeeding. However, while both of you have this infection, you must take extra sanitary steps when feeding your baby.
- Always wash your hands before and after breastfeeding and/or diaper change
- Using warm water, rinse your nipple after feeding. Pat with clean cloth/towel then air dry
- Make sure that anything that goes into your baby’s mouth is very clean. You may wash them with hot soapy water and use clear water for rinsing
- Change clothing (e.g nursing pads, bras) once it get soaked with milk
Consult with your doctor for treatment of thrush as it may recur if proper treatment is not applied.
Breastfeeding 101: Breastfeeding in the Philippines
In the Philippines, the laws the focuses on breastfeeding are – Executive Order 51 (the Philippine Milk Code 1986), Republic Act 7600 The Rooming-In and Breast-feeding Act of 1992 and Republic Act 10028 or the “Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009”.
Executive Order 51 (the Philippine Milk Code 1986) is the law that provides restrictions on formula milk manufacturers with aggressive marketing campaigns may result to discouragement of breastfeeding.
Milk manufacturers are required by this law to label their products with an expiration date; a disclaimer that breast milk is best for babies; and that it should only be consumed upon doctor’s advice.
Republic Act 7600 The Rooming-In and Breast-feeding Act of 1992 promotes breastfeeding by encouraging rooming-in of newborn babies, except for cases of traumatic births.
It also states that “bottle-feeding shall be allowed only after the mother has been informed by the attending health personnel of the advantages of breastfeeding and the proper techniques of infant formula feeding and the mother have opted in writing to adopt formula feeding for her infant.”
R.A 10028 or the “Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009” states that all government and private offices are required to put-up a private, clean and equipped Lactation Stations.
Lactating mothers were allowed to have “Lactation breaks”, which is an extra 40 mins. break on top of meal breaks to express milk.
Pursuant to this law, health institutions were also encouraged to establish milk banks to serve as storage of pasteurized breast milk donated by breastfeeding mothers.
The provision also paved way for the celebration of the National Breastfeeding Awareness Month (#BreastfeedingMonthPH) every August 1 to 7.
Every year, Department of Health (DOH) spearheads “Hakab Na!”, the biggest breastfeeding event to also celebrate World Breastfeeding Week.
Another DOH program for breastfeeding is called “Mother-Baby Friendly Philippines”.
A program in partnership with World Vision Development Foundation, Inc (WVDF) to strengthen the mentioned Philippine laws on breastfeeding. Website: https://mbfp.doh.gov.ph/
We hope our Breastfeeding 101 has helped you as you take your first steps in parenting.