The Importance of Breastfeeding
We are all aware of how important it is for babies to be breastfed. In fact, the sooner you start breastfeeding your newborn (preferably within an hour of delivery), the better for both mother and baby! Though it takes some time for mother's milk to flow in, the breasts initially produce a substance called colostrum (a yellowish thick fluid) that protects your baby from infections. Breastfeeding requires patience, so do not get distressed if it takes some time for you to adjust to this experience.
It is advisable to feed your baby as often as possible, about every two hours or so as breast milk digests quickly. The more you nurse, the more milk you will produce. You should try to nurse at least 10 to 12 times a day, or whenever your baby shows signs of hunger like increased alertness or mouthing. Crying too, is a sign of hunger, so make sure you feed baby before he starts to cry. As your baby will practically sleep through the day in the initial days, you will need to gently wake him at regular intervals to feed him. Once he starts sleeping for longer periods at night, you can follow a routine of feeding every two to three hours or even less frequently at night.
How to Nurse
Breastfeeding your newborn is an art that you will acquire with time, as it demands patience and practice. If you feel nervous, you can always talk to your nurse, doctor or friends who have already nursed, to provide guidance and helpful tips. For example, a handy tip is to be in a comfortable position, whether sitting or lying, as feeding can take up to 45 minutes.
The best way to feed your baby (whether breast or bottle-feeding) is to first choose a calm room, away from any noise or distraction. Make yourself comfortable along with baby in a chair or on a couch with plenty of cushions around for support. You can dim the lights and even hum a soft song or play some light music to help your baby relax and enjoy his meal.