by Dr Mythili Pandi, Family Physician & International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
Many moms believe nursing is instinctive and natural. They believe it will occur spontaneously when the baby is born.
Unfortunately, this does not hold true for many new mothers. Without the right support, many new mothers suffer without assistance throughout the first few weeks. In fact, for many, breastfeeding is all novel and they may never even seen anyone else breastfeeding a baby at all.
In time long gone, when people lived in villages with open doors and shared experiences, new mothers would have often received assistance with mothering, breastfeeding and feeding from their neighbors and extended families. But in this era of nuclear families and endemic disease, the mothers of Now receive very little help, particularly breastfeeding support.
The period (or the 100 days) immediately following the birth of a child is often referred to as the 4th trimester. This is a priceless period when the mother, dad and newborn are introduced to each other and begin to learn a new dance, called being a Mother-Baby Dyad. It takes time and practice to understand the movements and get into a rhythm which suits each other before they take off onto the stage. There will be stomped toes and bruised shins along the journey but with grit and perseverance, the dance will be staged well.
Topmost Breastfeeding Secrets New Mothers Should Know?
Breastfeeding is normal and natural but it may not come naturally for every woman. In Singapore, the initiation rates of breastfeeding are quite high but at 6 months, only 42% of mothers are still breastfeeding six months after birth.
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months - which means no other food and drink except for breastmilk is given to baby - starting complementary foods only thereafter. Recommendations further state to continue breastfeeding for 2 years and beyond.
Here are the top breastfeeding tips that may prove beneficial for new mothers.
Get Help EARLY!
Contact an IBCLC if you are told that your latch appears perfect, but it still aches. Breastfeeding should not cause you pain at all. There may be some sensitivity in the early days when the milk ejection reflex occurs but this would usually last for no more than 1 min.
When the pains lasts for more than 1 minute, it is very likely that the latch is not adequate and if it continues, the nipples may get damaged.
We do expect babies to lose some weight in the 1st few days and they usually regain their birth weight within 10-14 days. Many times, mothers do get alarmed when they are told that there is a weight loss. We find that seeking the the help of an IBCLC before discharge from the hospital to ensure there is good milk transfer from the breast into baby often helps mothers along the breastfeeding journey.
Having a partner around!
Right after birth, mothers’ are often inundated with sleep-deprivation, their birth experience (both good and bad) as well as their concerns for their newborn. So having a partner helps to act as a support both physically as well as psychologically.
Accept help when it is offered - having a friend over to wash the dishes, load the washer or even just to hold the baby for a few precious moments would give you some time to yourself for some self-care! Who won’t appreciate a warm bowl of food when you are bone-tired and hungry?
SKIN TO SKIN IS MAGIC!
Babies love being in close contact with their mothers - being close to the breasts allows them to sleep well. The smells of the secretions from the Montgomery glands (pimple-like spots around the areola) is supposed to be like the amniotic fluid which babies would have been floating in, for the duration of the pregnancy. The sounds of the mother’s heartbeat would have been their “white noise” and the familiar vibrations from their speech would be all familiar to the newborn! And who doesn’t appreciate a lovely warm hug?
IBCLCs often use skin to skin as an effective means to get babies who have trouble with a good attachment to the breasts as a reset mechanism. All mammals have a strong innate sense of smell and will be able to seek the source of milk using their reflexes. And human beings are mammals Afterall.
Book an appointment with Dr Mythili Pandi to get personalised support.