First Breastfeeding after Birth
Breastfeeding: The Boob is Best!
First off, let’s get this out in the open. Sometimes, the first breastfeeding after birth can be the bane of your existence as a new mom and as a labor nurse.
1. Nipples come in many shapes and sizes.
2. Baby’s mouths are all different.
3. Mommas are exhausted after birth and teaching them at that time is near impossible.
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I want to help you now before that baby comes. As you get to know me (or if you already do know me), then you know that I am a giant advocate for my patients to get an education! EDUCATION IS KEY. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. I love the class by Milkology, its clear and the price is fantastic.
Why I am here and who I am:
Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!
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Girl, don’t wait until you've labored for 16 hours and pushed for three more to learn how to feed your baby.
You will not have the brain power, let alone the will to listen while your labor nurse drones on about the c-hand maneuver or the football hold.
First and foremost, I want to teach you here and now how to have a successful first breastfeeding after birth. (the best we can through words and pictures) Right now, your brain is receptive, and your body is still kicking.
If you need more help after reading this and have lots of questions, feel free to email me or comment below. I will help as much as possible.
Ok so grab a baby doll and follow along. I am just kidding, well, maybe.
Supplies Needed for Your First Breastfeeding after Birth
At some point, I need to write a post covering what's too much to bring into the labor room, but for now, here is a short list of essential items.
Bring your mental support tribe, and your comfort items, think chapstick, music, socks, your gown (like this one) and a nursing pillow.
Mostly you need your boobs and hands, but the other stuff does help. Don't bring in your overnight items, your baby clothes, or your three-piece luggage set.
If for some reason you have to have a cesarean and not the natural birth you may have dreamt of, your man is stuck dragging your luggage from room to room — no Bueno.
Breastfeeding: Prep During Pregnancy
- Find a local breastfeeding class: start with the hospital in which you plan to deliver your baby. Call and ask to speak to the lactation consultant. Check out this link from La Leche League.
- Locate a support group if you do not have a support network (think family and friends who have breastfed)
- If this is your first baby: go bra-less at times to allow friction between your nipples and clothing. The friction will toughen those nipples somewhat.
- Inverted nipples: If your nipples are inverted, be prepared to work a tad harder to get that good latch. BUT BE ENCOURAGED, no matter what Great Aunt Sally says…YOU CAN BREASTFEED. I would also suggest asking the lactation consultant at your hospital if they provide nipple shields. Take advantage of this if they do but also buy a pair beforehand. These are great for sore nipples as well.
- Take an online class from the comfort of your home.
Colostrum: The Superhuman Power Source
I could write a whole post on how fantastic colostrum is for our tiny human. Wow, I should do that now.
Think of a superhero and his superpower boost source.
Example: Popeye: Spinach.
For our babies, Colostrum is the magic life source. It's a thick yellowish first drink of milk. It's a protein-packed Redbull for babies.
- chuck full of antibodies
- immunity giving
- helps to rid the baby of meconium (black tar-like poop)
- A medicinal precursor to the nutritional milk coming their way. Consider the fact that by giving the baby this superfood, you are providing the baby protection.
You have what you need in your boob to feed the baby no matter what your brain tells you.
If Aunt Sally chimes in again to inform you that you need to give the baby a bottle, politely tell her that your baby has the stomach the size of a cherry on day one and colostrum are all your child needs, thank you very much.
The Golden Hour
During this initial period after birth, your new little one is awake and alert. Take advantage of it. Ask your nurses to dim the lights after she has cleaned you up. (Most labor nurses do this) A darkened room will encourage those sweet eyes to pop open.
I’m praying you will insist on feeding immediately and let the nurse (sorry nurse friends, you know I love you) do her stuff later cause she can, and it’s not about her.
I love my newest job where they lay the baby on the chest and don't mess with him for most of the first hour. No one is going to lose their job if they don’t know the baby’s weight immediately.
No one! Alright, ya hear me loud and clear that the first breastfeeding after birth is vital.
They can even do the newborn medications right on your chest when it’s time (which shouldn’t be during the first hour aka the golden hour).
Tell them to do the medications, and if needed, blood sugar draws while the baby is on your boob.
INSIST on what you want, refer back to when your admission nurse said you have rights and use them.
The first thing you need to accomplish is a comfy, supported position. If you aren’t comfortable, you will get stressed and overwhelmed, trying to get a good latch.
Which, truthfully sometimes takes a long time.
IT IS OKAY!!!
Ask for help, and don't get frustrated. Lay your naked baby on your bare chest and let the baby smell your skin. As the baby lays on top of your body, something truly incredible happens.
The newborn's breathing regulates as he/she acclimates to this harsh outside world. Let it happen. Do you think any other mammal stresses about latch and timing? NOOOOOOOOO!!!
They listen to their body and watch for cues from their offspring. Mama, do the same.
Tell everyone to step the stink back and let you two do your thing. A newborn baby if left on moms skin will crawl up and find the nipple just like every other mammal.
We mess with the process way too much.
I recommend sitting up as high as you feel comfortable, using a boppy and pillows as needed. The critical factor for the first breastfeeding after birth to be successful is that you can maintain the position you assume.
You can't hold your back hunched over for long, so don't do that.
There are several positions I can teach you later, but for the first feed, trust me and do this one. Take a look at the above picture. Do you see how the baby is flat against momma? This is a proper hold.
Think about holding a glass of wine. (I know..sorry) Ok, say you want a drink from a straw. You don't turn your head to the side to take a drink. You bring it in front of you and bring your mouth to the straw.
Can you imagine swallowing turned to the side? Your baby needs to face the straw a.k.a. Nipple.
If you’re wearing your Labor Nurse Mama Boho Labor Gown (which I hope you are), it is made precisely for this first feed. The scoop neck was designed for those babes to be slid right down onto momma.
If the baby is on your chest as mentioned above, those initial feeding instincts kick into gear.
Later on, we can visit other positions, like the football hold or side-lying, which are my favorites, but for now, keep the baby on your skin and do the cross-cradle hold.
Girl, trying to get a small little mouth onto a giant nipple can be frustrating. As your nurse, sometimes, this part makes me so sweaty, sore and stressed. But it's ok. Keep pushing on. Ask for help and don't accept lame excuses like the nurse in postpartum will help you when we take you to your room. If your nurse can't help, she can find another who is willing to break a sweat. A crunchy nurse, like me….hahaha. Not really but sort of right in this sense.
Watch these videos for a correct latch 'cause I'm past the breastfeeding stage, and Anna is breastfeeding a nine-month-old. lol
Take notice of these four things while you watch (especially the first video):
- Moms right-hand position (pointer and thumb directing the newborn's head)
- Mom's left hand is in a c shape-holding her breast.
- The newborn's lips flare. If you don't see both lips, reposition and relatch. You will hate your life if you get a blister.
- Watch his suck and swallow movement. This is a good indication of a proper latch.
- You have what it takes for the first breastfeeding after birth.
- Colostrum is the original superfood made for your offspring by your body.
- Insist on skin to skin immediately after birth (unless there is a complication)
- Get comfortable and support your arms.
- Position newborn to face your breast.
- A latch is crucial, so don't compromise.
Alrighty friends, as always, I am here for you, so don't hesitate to ask me questions. Think of me as your friendly neighborhood labor nurse, especially if you are interested in natural birth, because that's my favorite.
Please also share your experiences with skin to skin, the golden hour, breastfeeding after birth, or anything else that floats your boat.