When it comes to breastfeeding, every mother and child have different needs. At Women’s Health Services, in Arlington, Texas, the team of doctors, including breastfeeding experts Dawnette Pepler, MD, FACOG, and Sheri Puffer, MD, FACOG, offer customized advice and support to help you make the best choices for you and your baby. If you have questions about breastfeeding, call Women’s Health Services, or schedule a consultation online today.
Soon after you give birth, you can begin to breastfeed your baby. While you hold your baby against your bare skin, you cup your breast and put your nipple against your baby’s lower lip. When your baby opens their mouth, pull them close to you aiming your nipple toward the roof of your baby’s mouth.
The skin-to-skin contact should encourage your baby to latch on your breast and begin to feed. It isn’t always easy on the first try, so don’t feel discouraged, and ask your Women’s Health Services doctor for advice and support.
Most babies eat 8-12 times in 24 hours during their first few weeks of life and will feed for around 15 minutes from each breast. As your baby grows and starts to sleep for more extended periods of time, your feeding schedule will change. Remember, every baby is different, and if your feeding schedule is a little different, it’s okay.
You also need to keep your nipples clean and try to avoid irritated skin and mastitis. Make sure to eat a healthy diet while you’re breastfeeding. You may need an extra 400-500 calories a day to make breast milk.
You may also have irregular periods while you’re nursing because of your postpartum hormone levels and other factors. However, you can still get pregnant while you’re breastfeeding, even if your periods are irregular. If you don’t want to get pregnant soon after giving birth, talk to your doctor about birth control options.
If you feel like your milk supply is dwindling, call your Women’s Health Services doctor for personalized advice. You should also make sure to drink plenty of water and make sure you get as much rest as possible. You can try pumping after breastfeeding to increase your milk supply. You may also find that applying a warm compress to your breasts for a few minutes before nursing or pumping can help get your milk flowing.
You can breastfeed for as long as it works for you and your baby. Although it’s recommended to exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months and up until their first birthday as new foods are introduced, this isn’t feasible for every mother. For example, if your unable to produce enough milk to satisfy your baby’s hunger and to support healthy growth and weight gain, talk to your doctor about the best way to supplement nursing.
There are several approaches that you can take to weaning. Whenever you and your baby are ready to transition away from breastfeeding, you can take steps such as skipping a feeding and offering a bottle of formula or milk, or you could slowly reduce your baby’s nursing time and supplement with formula, solids, or milk. You should only give your baby cow’s milk after their first birthday.
If you have questions about breastfeeding or need support, call Women’s Health Services, or make an appointment online today.