Getting breastfeeding well established
It may take several weeks before you and your baby settle into a comfortable routine and for you to feel confident about breastfeeding.
This doesn't mean that you will have a lot of problems. It means that you and your baby may take a few weeks to get to know one another and how best to nurse. The early weeks also have some changes that are part of establishing breastfeeding.
A nipple that tucks in rather than sticks out when stimulated is called an inverted nipple. Breast changes during pregnancy often correct this condition. Even if the nipple does not change, there may not be a problem. Some babies are not bothered by such a nipple and have no problem getting a good latch.
If your baby is having difficulty latching, you can pump for a few minutes just before nursing. This will draw out the nipple. Having inverted nipples may affect the first few weeks of nursing because breastfeeding itself usually solves the problem.
For the first few days after giving birth your breasts remain soft and produce colostrum. During this time your baby only needs small amounts of this early milk that boost her immune system. Colostrum also helps clear the intestines of meconium, baby's first stool.
Sometime between the second and sixth day, your breasts begin to produce milk that is thinner and whiter. As your body gears up to make mature milk, extra fluid swells your breasts, causing engorgement. To reduce this swelling, which lasts a few days:
- nurse often
- apply cold packs between feedings to help reduce swelling
- use a warm shower to help release excess milk
- use gentle breast massage to increase blood circulation
- hand express milk to soften the areola so that your baby is able to latch on deeply.
Adding a pacifier
There are times that babies want the comfort that comes from sucking but aren't hungry. When this is the case the sucking pattern is different. There is sucking but rarely any swallowing. The rate may start out rapid and then slows as your baby feels comforted.
It is best to delay offering a pacifier until your baby is latching well and your milk supply is well established. Some babies latch well right from the start and have a need to suck a lot. These babies may use a pacifier and nurse well.
Babies who are having trouble latching or staying on the nipple should delay pacifier use until they are latching and feeding well. A pacifier can prolong poor latching.
In addition, pacifier use may delay a breastfeeding. If you are not confident about your milk supply, delay pacifier use until frequent nursing has built it up. Until then, consider having your baby suck on a clean finger if your breast is not an option.
Adding a bottle
There may be times when you are not available to breastfeed. At those times, a bottle may be an option. As with a pacifier, it is best to delay adding a bottle until breastfeeding is well established. If there is concern about the baby's sucking, breast milk can be given by dropper or spoon or cup. Formula can be substituted if breast milk is not available.