Breast Feeding For the First Time
I have been a nurse for approximately 35 years working with new mothers during and after delivery. One of the most frustrating times for mom and baby can be when she is trying to nurse for the first time. I would like to offer a few tips to help give you a good start.
The most important of these is to try to give baby skin to skin contact with mom as soon as possible after birth. As soon as baby is stable, being placed on mothers chest has proven to have several benefits. It comforts baby resulting in less crying, causes less anxiety in mom and has been shown to help stabilize baby’s body temperature. Even if baby is a cesarean delivery, this can be done while the physician is closing the abdomen.
Next is promoting breast feeding as soon as possible. Baby is very alert during this time immediately after birth and nursing seems to progress a lot better later on if they are offered the breast during this immediate post partum period. “Rolling the nipple” between the thumb and index finger can help baby “latch on” more easily. This can also be done intermittently in the weeks prior to birth to help “toughen up” the nipples before birth.
Positioning baby so it is comfortable for both mom and baby is also a key element. Using pillows and having the head of the bed in at least a 45 degree position. If mom has had a cesarean section to deliver baby and is in the recovery room it is still possible to nurse.
The nurses may have to assist you in a side lying position instead of a sitting position depending on your vital signs and blood pressure. Using either a “football” hold or with him cradled in either arm is fine. You may have to insert the nipple into baby’s mouth but usually they are “rooting” around looking for the nipple to suck on. You may also have to hold a finger just above the nipple to make it easier for baby to breath while he is nursing.
Even if baby does not latch on well or seem to nurse aggressively during this initial introduction to the breast do not get discouraged. With a little encouragement it will go fine later because of this first contact with mom. If the hospital has a lactation specialist or an experienced nurse on hand to help and “coach” you this can also be an invaluable asset.
If it is not possible to have skin to skin contact immediately after birth just try to do it as soon as possible. Baby usually has a “sleepy” period about 30-45 min. after birth. Even if baby is sleeping it is still beneficial to have this bonding time between baby and mom. Most physicians encourage skin to skin contact. Giving mom, dad and baby “bonding” time together immediately after birth is essential. Before baby is born make sure your physician and the hospital staff are aware of your desire to have skin to skin contact and initial breast feeding as soon as possible after delivery of the infant.
Tips for Breastfeeding Twins
Breastfeeding twins can be a very daunting idea to most mothers. Heck, it’s hard enough to be able to breastfeed ONE baby successful, and now TWO?!
The good news is that breastfeeding twins, be it directly nursing or expressing milk is possible!
But this doesn’t mean that if you’re a first time mother of twins it’s going to be very hard.
Sure, the learning curve is steep, but with some of my tips below I am very sure you will do just fine!
Some positions to help you breastfeed twins.
Breastfeeding Twins Rule #1 – Demand = Supply
I’m sure you’ve read this in breastfeeding and pregnancy books and it IS as simple as that.
Even if you are intending to express milk for your twins once you’ve returned to work, nurse your twins directly at your breasts for the first 6 weeks.
This is crucial as milk supply establishes and stabilizes during this period.
The more you nurse, the more milk you produce. This is especially important in breastfeeding twins and you want to make sure you have enough milk for both babies without the need to supplement.
Even after you’ve returned to work, it is recommended that you express milk at least 6-8 times a day to keep up the supply. You can always do with any extra milk anyway!
I recommend latching both babies on while breastfeeding twins – they work like a natural double electric pump! If you prefer to nurse one baby at a time, that’s fine too. Remember to switch sides at every session.
For example, if you nursed baby A on your left, nurse baby A on your right during the next session. You may also wish to use an electric breast pump on one breast while nursing your baby on the other. This also stimulates milk production.
When I was breastfeeding twins, I nursed them together as often as I can, which not only halved my feeding times, but also ensured I always had enough milk for them.
Breastfeeding Twins Rule #2 – Nurse on Demand
Breastfeeding twins on a schedule in the early weeks is not advisable.
Remember that your objective in the first weeks is to establish an abundant milk supply, so feed your twins as often as they wish to, as much as you can!
It may seem like an endless duty of feeding your babies, but it will be worth it! I did pretty well on a schedule with my eldest daughter, but I did not want to risk it when I was breastfeeding twins!
Breastfeeding Twins Rule #3 – Rest and Relax
Milk production is optimal during the night when you are sleeping the most, which explains why you tend to feel fuller once you get up in the morning.
When your body is resting, milk production naturally takes place.
It may be tough to rest when you are looking after twins, and some alternatives are to nurse your baby while lying down on your side, on a recliner, or while watching TV.
A stressed and tired mother will not produce as much milk as she wants to. So as long as you find time to relax, even for 5 minutes, it will help!
Final tips on breastfeeding twins
If you have someone who can look after the twins for an hour while you catch up on sleep, it’s okay to want some rest away from your babies.
On some days it is also perfectly fine to offer the bottle to your babies if you feel that you need a break.
Breastfeeding twins is not easy, but don’t give up. Press on and you can be as successful as I did when I was breastfeeding twins!