Before Baby Arrives
Thanks to Medela, Inc. at www.medela.com
Though breastfeeding is natural, technique is a learned skill. It is important to get started correctly, even before your baby is born. You need to know well in advance how to identify and avoid possible problems, and where to turn if difficulties do arise. Many breastfeeding problems may occur when you establish your nursing patterns. With proper and prompt attention, the majority of these problems disappear as quickly as they develop.
Plan to learn as much as you can about breastfeeding. You will be making an important investment in your and your baby's continued good health. An abundance of valuable reference material is available to help you get started. Medela offers a complete line of breastfeeding books that covers all aspects of breastfeeding, as well as how to use a breastpump, with expert, thorough instruction.
The most important contact before and during your breastfeeding experience is with certified lactation consultants and/or support organizations such as La Leche League International (LLL) and the Nursing Mothers' Council. By attending League meetings, for example, you will have the opportunity to meet and compare notes with other breastfeeding mothers. As your questions are answered, you will receive the helpful tips and reassurances you need to make your breastfeeding experience even more rewarding. To help connect you with a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist in your area, Medela has developed the
As with any skill, the keys to successful breastfeeding are practice and patience. Learn all you can and then surround yourself with people who will offer you the encouragement you need. Be easy on yourself. Relax and enjoy this special and wondrous experience.
A Simple Nipple Test
"Nipples come in all shapes and sizes, and most babies can handle these variations. Sometimes, if the mother's nipples lack elasticity or invert when compressed, a baby may have difficulty getting a good latch. This difficulty may temporarily worsen during engorgement, when the breasts get fuller and the breast tissue is even tighter and less elastic. Over time, these problems resolve, but mothers with inverted nipples may need extra help to get breastfeeding off to a good start. After birth, if baby still has difficulty attaching to your breast, contact a breastfeeding specialist, La Leche League leader, or the Nursing Mothers' Council.
Many mothers have everted nipples.
An inverted nipple
A flat nipple.
Medela's Breast Shells can help draw out flat or inverted nipples.
How Your Breasts Produce Milk
Milk is produced and stored in the glandular tissue (alveoli) of your breasts. It collects in pockets (lactiferous sinuses) located beneath the areola (the dark area around the nipple) until it is released by a baby's sucking. Stimulation of the nipples causes the mother's pituitary gland, located in the brain, to secrete prolactin, which initiates and maintains milk production. The first milk your baby receives at each feeding is the milk that has collected in the pockets between feedings. This low-fat foremilk is high in protein and satisfies the baby's thirst. As breastfeeding continues, a second hormone called oxytocin is secreted. Oxytocin causes the tissue around the alveoli to contract, thus squeezing the high-fat hindmilk down the ducts and into the pockets where it is available to satisfy your baby's hunger.
Many mothers experience a tingling or rushing sensation in the breasts as this "let down," or milk ejection reflex (MER), occurs. Other mothers notice only that sucking becomes longer and slower, and that baby begins to swallow rhythmically. Keys to establishing a quick let-down are relaxation and confidence that your body is doing exactly what it was designed to do: feeding your baby the world's best baby milk -- produced by you!
Successful breastfeeding is the combined result of practice, patience, and proper positioning. Breastfeeding as soon as possible -- preferably within an hour after birth -- will get you and your baby off to a good start. Prompt breastfeeding can also help prevent engorgement -- an uncomfortable, "full" feeling in the breasts caused by swollen lymph nodes, extra blood and excess milk. Keeping your infant with you during your hospital stay will help you get to know and immediately respond to baby's cues. In addition to beginning the important cycle of milk supply and demand, early breastfeeding allows your baby to receive the benefits of colostrum. Rich in nutrients and antibodies, colostrum is the first milk you produce and is your baby's perfect starter food.
Immediately after birth, your baby will be in a quiet alert state and generally receptive to breastfeeding. (If your baby isn't ready the very first time you try to breastfeed, try again within the next half hour or so.) Within a couple of hours, your baby will become quite sleepy; drowsiness may last for several days.