Before you read any further, let me give a little disclaimer. This is an article about ways to promote and encourage your infant to breastfeed effectively. With that said, every infant is different and every mom is different. I am in no way implying that if you do or do not do something I’ve suggested, you’ve sabotaged your entire breastfeeding career! This is meant to be a help for moms who really want to breastfeed and may be having a few problems. Try these tips if your baby is gaining weight too slowly, or if you want to increase your supply.
Ditch the Pacifier
Some moms swear that they would’ve gone mad without their baby having a pacifier. It is true that babies need to suck, but the best place for them to suck is at the breast. Babies who use pacifiers can have nipple confusion and generally don’t nurse as often. Yes, it means that you spend a lot more time nursing at first. But it also means that you don’t have to worry about pacifier “weaning.”
One of the best ways to encourage a baby to nurse is to wear them around in a sling. Babies can actually smell your milk when they are up against you. Have you ever been outside a restaurant and smelled really good food? Doesn’t it make you hungry? The same principle applies to newborns!
Feed on Demand
You should nurse your baby whenever they are hungry or can be soothed by breastfeeding. Don’t worry about a schedule unless your infant is very sleepy AND not gaining weight well. In that case you’ll want to wake your baby to feed every few hours. But otherwise feeding on demand is good for two reasons. First, it helps build your supply. Secondly, babies hit growth spurts that result in more frequent nursings. It is important for you to meet their needs during this time. Just because your baby nursed yesterday every 3 hours doesn’t mean he’ll do that indefinitely. If you nurse an infant on demand, you will find that they will eventually slip into a fairly predictable pattern.
Co-Sleeping & Rooming In
Rooming in at the hospital will definitely help to get breastfeeding off to the right start. If you room-in with your infant you are 10x more likely to continue breastfeeding until at least 3 months! Once you get the baby home, sleeping next to your infant may help you get more sleep as well as promote frequent breastfeeding.
Pumping in the first few weeks of a baby’s life often does more to hinder breastfeeding than to help. Before beginning regular pumping sessions your milk supply should be well established. For some women, this takes a few weeks and for others it may take longer. (Note: This is advice for full term healthy babies. Look for future blogs about pumping for babies in the NICU).