Mother breastfeeding her baby.Breastfeeding is one of the best ways you and your baby can enjoy special bonding time together – but it isn’t alway easy to get started. The question is, what can you do to facilitate the process, and how do you know when it’s time to turn to the specialists?

Whether you’re having a hard time breastfeeding, or you’re still pregnant and want to be well prepared, our tips will guide you through this important time with your baby, so you can feel confident about the care you’re giving them.

Nurse your Baby Skin to Skin

While breastfeeding, have your baby dressed only in a diaper and hat. Place your baby on your chest beneath your shirt so that your skin is directly touching your baby’s skin. This skin-to-skin contact allows you to bond more strongly with your baby, while encouraging your milk supply, which helps your baby receive more nourishment.

Keep a Journal or a Baby Feeding Log

Record the times you begin and end feeding, and which breast(s) you use. By keeping a record of the number of diaper changes you do each day, you will also notice whether your baby is getting enough breastmilk.

Join a Breastfeeding Support Group

These groups are usually offered at your local hospital for free and are a great opportunity to share experiences, connect with other moms, and get the much-needed answers to your questions. These groups are often led by a licensed lactation consultant, who can provide expert insight for a better breastfeeding experience.

See a Lactation Specialist

If you’re experiencing any signs of breastfeeding difficulty, or just want to make sure everything’s going well, make an appointment with a lactation specialist. These professionals can help you with a myriad of issues and concerns, such as latching problems, weighing your baby, and coming up with a feeding plan.

Signs You Should Ask for Help

While it’s normal to have some hiccups when starting out with breastfeeding, if you encounter any of the following scenarios, you should consult a lactation consultant or your pediatrician for more support and peace of mind.

Abnormal Length or Frequency of Nursing Sessions  

Sessions should last up to 40 minutes and happen every 2 to 3 hours. If your sessions are shorter or longer, or are consistently every 4 or more hours, then your baby may not be getting enough milk. This could be due to your milk supply or their latch, but either way, an expert will be able to help you out.

Lack of Swallowing Sounds

In the beginning of breastfeeding, you probably won’t hear your baby swallow. Once your milk supply comes in, however, you should hear swallowing sounds, especially in the middle of a nursing session. If you can’t hear these sounds, your baby may not be getting enough milk and you may need to try a new approach.

Engorged Breasts

If your breasts are too full, the baby may have trouble latching. You can try expressing some milk manually to make latching easier but, if in doubt, speak to the experts.

Too Few Wet and Dirty Diapers

After your baby is a week old, they should have at least 6 wet diapers and 4 dirty diapers per day. If you are changing them less often, or see specks of red in their urine or stool, it could be a sign that your baby needs more nourishment and you need to try a new feeding plan.

Severe Nipple Pain

Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable or even a little painful at first, but if the pain continues or is severe, it may be because your baby has an incorrect latch or because you have an infection, so get it checked out.

Issues with Baby’s Weight Gain

If your baby is gaining too little or too much weight, it may not be receiving the right amount of nutrients to grow in a healthy way. An expert will be able to assess your baby’s development, so you can adapt their feeding as necessary.

Breastfeeding can be one of the greatest joys of new motherhood, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its difficulties. Tri-City Medical Center offers regular breastfeeding clinics led by our team of experts who are here to support you in this important decision.

Don’t struggle alone. Contact Tri-City Medical Center today for more information and specialist advice on breastfeeding.