The road to exclusive breastfeeding starts at the maternity hospital!
Ask your gynecologist to allow you to make skin-to-skin contact with your baby within the first hour after birth. Inform the head of the maternity ward that you do not wish for your newborn to be given formula milk. Make sure you have your baby by your side all the time, choosing the rooming-in option, which allows your baby to be in the same room as you 24 hours a day. The newborn will only be removed from its mother if it has to undergo an examination that cannot be performed in the maternity room.
- How often and for how long should I breastfeed my baby?
A key element to exclusively breastfeeding your child is to understand that there is NO schedule! You should breastfeed your baby as often and for as long as it wishes.
- Should I use a breast pump to check if I have the right amount of milk?
No! Milk deficiency is a very rare condition. Pumping your milk and then offering it to your baby through a bottle is a tedious process that deprives both mother and baby of the joy of breastfeeding. It can also lead the newborn to nipple confusion, because the effort it has to make to breastfeed is different from the effort needed to drink from the bottle. For the exact same reason, you should avoid the use of a pacifier for at least the first 40 days after birth, during which breastfeeding is established.
- How do I know that my milk is enough for my baby to grow properly?
You can monitor your baby's urination and the number of bowel movements. These are clinical signs that give us a good estimate of the baby’s degree of hydration. But the most objective way to determine whether the newborn is feeding properly is weight gain. A baby that gains the anticipated weight for their age leaves no room for worry about insufficient milk quantity.
- What is the best position for breastfeeding?
You will decide! The only prerequisites are for the mother to feel comfortable and for the baby to be able to latch effectively, putting into the mouth the entire areola, in order to avoid nipple injuries. It is also best for the newborn's head to be in a straight position and its nose to be close to your breast but not obstructed by it, so that it can breathe without stopping breastfeeding.
- How can a father help his partner?
We must not forget the role of the father in establishing the breastfeeding process! The new mother needs encouragement, support and care. It is important for the breastfeeding mother to rest while the newborn is sleeping. The father will therefore need to help as much as he can with the daily chores and care of older children. In this way the mother will dedicate herself to the newborn and breastfeeding will be established much faster.
Finally, keep in mind that you do not have to temporarily stop breastfeeding due to the newborn developing jaundice, or due to the mother needing to take antibiotics because of a case of mastitis. Your pediatrician will help you deal with these two situations without having to deprive your baby of the valuable benefits of breast milk.