It’s the most natural thing in the world to nurse your newborn baby. That being said, you would think that it would be easy. But breastfeeding the first week can be a painful and difficult time for a new mother. If you are finding breastfeeding the first week tough and are wondering if there is something wrong then don’t. The struggles you are going through are completely normal. Here we try to give you a basic guide to breastfeeding in the first week.
First off, don’t panic if it doesn’t come as naturally as you had hoped. Most mothers find it hard and have to practice and persevere until they get the hang of it. At the very beginning it is always best to have a trained person to watch and provide skilled help and support for both you and your baby. You can get this support from a midwife or a breastfeeding counselor. Making sure you get the first few feeds right is imperative to building your confidence as a first-time mother – no matter how difficult it may seem. In the early days of breastfeeding, while you are still trying to get the hang of it, creating the right atmosphere is of utmost importance. Make sure you are in a comfortable position with everything you need within arms reach – be that a snack, your cell phone, or the TV remote. It’s also important when you are breastfeeding during the first week to remember that some pain is normal and will pass. The breast engorgement period normally kicks in when your baby is around four days old – this is when breasts can become large and painful. Again, this normal and will pass so try not to stress over it. A quick tip to help the pain is to massage your breasts to soften them or try releasing a little milk using your thumb and finger.
Latching on is the term used for getting your baby attached to your breast and is so important when breastfeeding during the first week. Holding the baby in the correct position is key to making sure you don’t get arm or back aches. Ask your healthcare professional to ensure you are positioning your little one properly in order to let them correctly latch on and look up guides and instructions online if you are still struggling. When back at home, make sure you have plenty of cushions to keep you comfortable so you can try to stay relaxed. Things will be much easier if you are calm and don’t get frustrated. When you are breastfeeding in the first week you will probably be overwhelmed by how time consuming it is. But sometimes worry and stress can be the causes of problems with breastfeeding, especially during the first week. If you are feeling particularly anxious you should talk to someone.
Breastfeeding whenever the baby is hungry may be tiring, but it is the best thing for your baby and particularly important during the first week. Frequent feeding will help to build up your milk flow and the more practice you get during the first week, the quicker you will both get the hang of it. During the first week of breastfeeding it’s important that you learn how to read your baby. Your baby will give you little signals, known as early feeding cues, such as sucking their fists, licking their lips or wriggling around and opening their mouth searching for your breast. Looking out and responding to these cues is important because the sooner you respond to them, the less frustrated your child will be between feedings.
The most important period in establishing a breastfeeding routine is during the first week so remember that you are both learning and that you are in this together as a team. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t feel like you are getting it as quickly as you should. And remember that you will both get there in the end.