How to take care of an infant?
Breastfeeding has more benefits for the baby. Breast milk is rich in nutrients. It has antibodies, which help protect your baby against infections. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to have infection, allergies, diabetes and asthma etc.
Breastfeeding has benefits for the mother as well. It helps uterus go back to normal size after stretching out during pregnancy. This can help you lose weight faster. It can delay the return of menstrual cycle. Breastfeeding helps make time for you to be close to your baby. Women who breastfeed have lower risks of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Before you give birth:
During pregnancy, the following things can prepare you for breastfeeding.
- Prenatal care: It’s important to take good care of yourself and your baby. Babies who are born early (premature) have a harder time breastfeeding.
- Talk to your doctor: Make sure your doctor knows your plan to breastfeed. They can give you some resources. Ask questions about what type of care the hospital provides after birth. Some offer lactation consultants, who are breastfeeding specialists.
- Breastfeeding class: Some women find that taking a class can help them practice for the real thing.
- Breastfeeding items: Plan ahead by purchasing the items you need. These can include a nursing pillow, nursing bra, and covers. Some hospitals and insurance plans provide free breast pumps.
How do I know if my baby is latched on?
- When your baby is “latched on” the right way, both lips should cover nearly all of your areola. Your baby’s jaw should begin to move back and forth. Your baby may make low-pitched swallowing noises instead of smacking noises. If you feel pain while your baby is nursing, they may not be latched on.
- Your baby’s nose may touch your breast during nursing. Babies’ noses are designed to allow air to get in and out. If you’re concerned your baby can’t breathe easily, gently press down on your breast near your baby’s nose to give them more room to breathe. Your baby shouldn’t have to turn their head or strain their neck to nurse.
How should I hold my baby while breastfeeding?
You can hold your baby in a number of ways. Some of the most common positions are:
- Put your baby’s head in the crook of your arm. Support your baby’s back and bottom with your forearm. Your baby should be lying facing you. Your breast should be right in front of your baby’s face.
- Side-lying: While lying down, place your baby alongside you. Your baby should be facing you. Pull your baby close to you so they can latch on. You can use a pillow to prop up, if needed. This position is helpful if you had a cesarean section (C-section).
- Tuck your baby under your arm, along your side. Their head should be resting in your hand. Support your baby’s body with your forearm. Your baby should be facing you. This position is helpful if you had a C-section. It also can help if your breasts are large, your baby is small, or you have multiple babies.
- Cross-cradle: Hold your baby with the opposite arm of the breast you’re using. Support your baby’s head and bottom with the palm of your hand and forearm. Your baby should still be lying facing you. This position can help premature babies or babies who have a weak suck. It provides added head support.
How often should I feed my baby?
Feed your baby as often as they want to be fed. Crying can be a sign of hunger, but it may be too late. Babies who are crying or are upset have a harder time latching on. Watch out for early signs of hunger. Your baby may:
- Make sucking motions
- Turn toward the breast if they are being held
- Put their hands in their mouth
- Become excited or alert
After birth, your baby may be hungry 8 to 12 times a day or more. This number may decrease over time or increase during a growth spurt. Growth spurts occur at about 2 weeks and 6 weeks of age and again at about 3 months and 6 months of age.
Let your baby eat until they are satisfied. This may be for about 15 to 20 minutes at each breast. Try to have your baby nurse from both breasts at each feeding. Make sure your baby finishes one breast before starting the other. Your baby should let go on their own once they are done.
How can I increase my milk supply?
If you think your baby needs more milk, increase the number of feedings a day. It’s important for you to get plenty of rest and eat right. Give your body time to catch up to your baby’s demands.
Don’t replace breast milk with baby formula or cereal. This can make babies lose interest in breast milk. It also will decrease your milk supply. You shouldn’t give your baby solid foods until about 6 months of age.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
Your baby is getting enough milk if they:
- Act satisfied after each feeding
- Gain weight consistently after the first 3 to 7 days after birth. (Your baby may lose a little weight during the first week after being born.)
- Have about 6 to 8 wet diapers a day
- Have about 2 to 5 or more stools a day at first. This number may decrease to about 2 stools or less a day
Sometimes babies fall asleep while nursing. You can squeeze your breast to make more milk flow. This may awaken your baby. If you are not sure they got enough milk, offer your other breast to see if your baby latches on again.