Why is my baby unsettled and fussy? Am I feeding enough? Am I doing it right? Most of us worry that we are not making enough milk for our babies. It is also a good idea to check their nappies – is there at least 5 heavy, wet nappies in 24 hours? Did your baby poo? Does your baby also seem to be gaining weight?
It’s really tough when you are hard pressed on feeding your baby and yet not much seems to come out. Here are 5 tips you can do to overcome the pain and pacify your hungry baby.
1. Feed often
Forget about routines since you are after all building your supply. Happily feed your baby every 2-4 hours. This may be challenging at the start, but trust me, it gets better eventually.
Do not rush when feeding. Your baby will let go once they’ve had enough. After they’re done with one breast, offer the other one as well. And then check if they are still unsettled. If they are done with their “entree” and “main course”, they might also want some “dessert”. This may happen after an hour or so. A top-up feed may be all they need, so put them to your breast for a short feed.
At some point where your breasts feel softer after a few months, take note that this does not equate to low milk supply. Your body has simply adjusted to the right amount of milk needed by your baby. So, DO NOT stop breastfeeding. Continue to breastfeed to maintain your supply.
2. Pump when you can
If you can’t be with your baby every meal time, you can feed them expressed milk. This is good when you want to rest and have dad have a go at feeding, when you want to go on a date, or even when you need to return to work.
Express milk regularly before or after direct feeding, when your breasts have not been drained, or when you are away. You can choose between a manual or electric pump, and do not forget to store your milk right away in the freezer. Mark the date, time, and volume of milk in the container very clearly.
Expressed milk can be kept in the fridge for 3-5 days, although personally, I only let it stay there until the next feed. I store it in the freezer, and it can stay there for 3 months (depending on your freezer – as it can be in deep freeze which lasts for 12 months).
3. Be comfortable and relaxed
Use a nursing pillow and think positive thoughts. It also helps to use a rocking chair since babies love the rocking motion (make sure it reclines too!). Sit comfortably. I would also keep a water bottle and burp cloth handy.
I also recommend music to help both you and your baby. Play lullabies and sing a few tunes. You can definitely use this time to calm yourself, enjoy the moment, and simply relax. If you are like me, I keep my mobile phone by my side (on silent mode) so that I can take a few snapshots of my baby. These are precious memories that will be cherished forever.
4. Skin-to-skin contact
While you are both starting your breastfeeding journey, you will find it useful to remove your shirt and bra, as well as your baby’s clothes (leave the nappy – we don’t want any accidents!). And then you can place a soft blanket over both of you.
This helps establish the bond between you and your baby especially at the start. Notice how nurses encourage you to keep doing this. It really, really helps!
Do you know that this will support you in breastfeeding and stimulating brain development in your little one? Having loving interactions with you helps their brain fire up and establish connections. It also reduces their stress and makes your baby happy. Watch out for the positive expression on their face!
5. Establish milk supply especially during the first 6 weeks
Your milk supply stabilises at this time so latch baby when you can. The first few days will be a learning experience both for you and your baby. Hold your baby against your body in a way that feels right for you. Support your baby when they are attached to your breast. When your baby is well attached, it will not hurt.
It was so painful for me at the start and my nipples were so sore. But even if I was in so much pain, I just kept trying. I kept asking for help to be taught the right way to latch. My nurses made sure I got it right before I left the hospital, whew!
Got other tips? Please leave your comments and share your experiences below. We would love to hear what worked for you.