All About Feeding Your Newborn
Your newborn has finally arrived—and she’s hungry! You’re sleep-deprived and recovering
from your baby’s birth: no wonder you might have some questions about keeping up with
your little one’s appetite. Read on for our must-have breastfeeding and formula tips.
Should I try to breastfeed?
Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it takes practice. “It really is something that Mom and Baby both have to learn. It gets simple, but it’s a new experience,” says Alan Greene, M.D., pediatrician and author of Feeding Baby Green. Why breastfeed? Nursing secures a strong bond between parent and infant. Plus, breast milk has the perfect combination of nutrients your baby needs to grow to be strong and healthy. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breastfeeding also benefits the mother by burning calories, shrinking down the uterus and reducing the risk of ovarian and breast cancers. What’s not to love, right?
Is there a right way to breastfeed?
Like many other aspects of pregnancy, birth and child rearing, everyone is different. The first step is to get comfortable and relax. La Leche League International recommends that you position your baby so his mouth and nose face the nipple and that you support your breast to avoid pressing it into your baby’s chin. Here are two of the most comfortable nursing positions:
- The cross-cradle position is great for newborns, who need the most support.
Sit in a comfortable chair and securely hold your baby crosswise with the arm
opposite from the breast you are nursing with. If nursing from your right breast, hold your baby with your left arm. Your forearm will support her body and your hand will support and steer her head. With your right hand, you can support your breast by placing your thumb above your breast and your other fingers beneath.
- The football clutch hold is particularly useful for women who have had a C-section, as the pressure of the baby will not be on the abdomen. Women with large breasts or flat nipples may also prefer this hold. Position a few pillows, or a
specially designed nursing pillow, next to you and hold your baby under your arm
on the same side you will be nursing from. She will be facing you with her legs
pointing behind you, and the pillow will help bring her mouth to nipple level. Support your baby’s head with the palm of your hand.
Ouch! How do I relieve breast pain?
Engorgement is the swelling of the breasts caused by the expansion of veins and the
pressure of the milk. Most moms experience this common discomfort three to six days after giving birth. Greene recommends warm or cool compresses and showers. Using a breast pump a little after feeding can also help. Greene suggests placing refrigerated cabbage leaves on the breasts. The leaves have antibiotic and anti-irritant properties that help reduce swelling. Sore nipples result from the baby stretching breast tissue, often due to a poor latch. For immediate relief, use lanolin or gel pads on the nipples. It is normal for the breasts to be tender, but with proper latching you should not experience shooting pains or pinching. If you find that breastfeeding hurts, seek the advice of a lactation consultation.
What if I formula-feed?
Some moms cannot breastfeed, must supplement breastfeeding with formula or simply
choose to formula-feed. “If the human milk isn’t going to be used, generally an iron-fortified infants’ formula based on cow’s milk should be used,” Greene says. Talk to your pediatrician about choosing the best formula option for your baby.
What does “BPA-Free” mean?
If you’re going to be using a bottle for breast milk or formula, be sure it’s a bottle that’s free
of bisphenol A (or BPA). BPA is a chemical that mimics estrogen. Researchers have found
that even small amounts are harmful to animals and people, especially babies. It has been
found to cause cancers, diabetes and even early puberty. Greene suggests using BPA free pumps, pacifiers and bottles.
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