Whether you're a new mother or you've had children before, the first 24 hours after giving birth can be overwhelming. It is entirely normal to experience a full spectrum of emotions during this time. You are not alone.
Within an hour of giving birth, one of the most important tasks you will have to undertake will be your child's first-ever breastfeeding session. Your midwife will be on hand to help you through this process, but it will go something like this:
- Skin-to-skin contact is the perfect way to get your baby to seek out the breast instinctively. This intimate moment will also help you and your child to bond.
- If your baby needs assistance latching onto the nipple, try stroking their cheek to encourage them to open their mouth.
- For the first feeding, breastfeed for around 20 minutes. If you have trouble getting your baby to stop, gently put your finger into the side of their mouth to stop the suction.
It will take time and practice for you and your baby to learn how to breastfeed together—don't worry, this is normal!
Babies aren't born knowing how to latch on and breastfeed correctly. Encouraging your child to latch on to the right part of your breast is crucial to ensuring they receive sufficient milk and to help stimulate the production of more. A poor latch can also result in cracked and painful nipples.
The ideal latch can take time, trial, and error to perfect. When latched on, your baby should take both your nipple and areola into their mouth. Your baby's gums need to compress the areola to stimulate the milk sinuses located underneath and to start the flow. If not, your milk won't flow easily, and new milk won't be produced.
When your baby's chin and the tip of her nose are touching your breast, you'll know you've achieved a proper latch. If you notice nipple pain or hear clicking noises while breastfeeding, it's likely that something isn't quite right. You will need to encourage your child to unlatch and try again.
You can encourage correct latching by following these steps:
- Using your free hand, hold your breast with your thumb above the areola where your baby's nose will touch.
- Use your index finger below the areola (where your child's chin will touch) and lightly compress your breast between the two fingers. This compression will give it a shape more closely resembling your baby's mouth.
- Bring your baby to your breast and gently touch your nipple to their lips until they open their mouth wide.
- Without pushing their head, bring your baby closer to your breast, allowing them to take your nipple and areola into their mouth. Don't worry if they don't manage to cover the whole areola, this is normal. It is most important to ensure that they have latched on to a good part of it.
If you and your baby are struggling to develop a sufficient latch, don't fret too much. A nipple shield can be used to make breastfeeding easier. These help to protect your nipples from any biting, as well as stimulate your areola to encourage your milk sinuses to produce more milk. If your nipples are constantly sore or cracked, a nipple shield from Haaka or Nuk should help make breastfeeding a less painful experience.
It is normal for your breasts to be sore for the first couple of weeks while your nipples adapt to their new task. A quick at-home remedy is to use cold, damp facecloths on your nipples for instant relief. For long term relief, we highly recommend the Rite Aid Hydrogel Breast Discs to soothe sore and cracked nipples by creating the optimal moist environment for healing broken skin. They work to restore the skin's natural moisture while providing a barrier against bacteria.
Every baby is different, and developing good breastfeeding habits can take time. Every new mother must go through this process, and it's ok not to get it perfect the first time. You are better to protect your comfort (and sanity), as well as ensuring your baby receives the nourishment they need, by using a breastfeeding aid such as a nipple shield than to persevere through pain.