The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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The first days and weeks of breastfeeding often boil down to sheer survival: getting your baby to latch onto (and stay on!) your breast; functioning on what often feels like mere minutes of sleep; and willing yourself to keep going if you’re having problems.
Yet at some point down the road, when you and your baby have made it through the getting-to-know-each-other period, you’re likely to have different questions and concerns. Here’s a look at some of the breastfeeding issues you’re likely to face throughout the first year.
I’ve heard that getting a proper latch is essential for successful breastfeeding. Is it really that important?
Yes, it’s that important. If you don’t have a proper latch, your baby may not get enough milk, and you could develop sore and cracked nipples. Following are tips from Corky Harvey, R.N., M.S., I.B.C.L.C., co-owner of The Pump Station stores in Southern California, on how to get it right (click here for step-by-step photos):
- Position your baby so he is lying on his side, his belly flush against yours.
- Prop up the baby with a pillow and hold him up to your breast; don’t lean over toward him.
- Using your free hand, place your thumb and fingers around your areola (the dark area surrounding the nipple).
- Tilt your baby’s head back slightly and gently touch him with your nipple just above his upper lip.
- When his mouth is open wide, scoop your breast into his mouth. Place his lower jaw on first, well behind the nipple.
- Tilt his head forward, placing his upper jaw deeply on the breast. Make sure he takes the entire nipple and at least 1 1∕2 inches of the areola in his mouth.
How can I tell if my baby is getting enough milk?
This is one of the most common questions among breastfeeding moms, because unlike with a bottle, you just can’t tell how much milk your baby is getting. To make sure you’re both on the right track, your pediatrician will monitor his weight closely, especially for the first several weeks.
In the meantime, pay attention to his diapers: He should have six to eight wet ones and at least two “seedy,” mustard- colored stools daily by the time he’s 7 days old. Also keep this in mind: “As long as your baby is gaining weight consistently and his diapers show that he is eating enough, you can assume that he’s getting plenty of milk,” says Jeanette Panchula, R.N., P.H.N., I.B.C.L.C., a lactation consultant at the Solano County Department of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health’s Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health division. If you’re still concerned, schedule a weight check with your pediatrician.