Learn to Breastfeed While Lying Down
Lying down to breastfeed has some great benefits. Most importantly, it allows mama to get some rest. Feeding baby often in those first weeks is very tiring and lying down allows mama to doze off while the baby eats. Secondly, it gives mama's back a break. My back always hurt terribly after labour and it would take the pressure off my back to be able to lie down to breastfeed.
It takes some practice to learn to breastfeed while lying down. I would often find myself tensing up to hold my position so baby would not hurt me by coming unlatched. When this happens, I had to actually shift myself to a better position so I could totally relax.
It's easy to relatch baby whenever he wants to eat again if you take a nap. To burp him, I usually lift the baby's head so he's resting on my stomach and pat his back. This way I don't have to get up but he still gets a more upright position for burping.
Umbilical Cord Care
The umbilical cord coming off is not the nicest thing. It stinks and oozes a bit and that is totally normal. It needs to dry out so it's good not to submerge the bellybutton area until it has come off. When giving diaper changes, you can very gently wipe the area with a damp cloth or damp cue tip to remove any dried on goop. This will help loosen the umbilical cord, but remember to be gentle. You don't want to tug it off at all. It will fall off on it's own.
Breastfeeding the Baby - The First Week
The first breastmilk the baby receives after birth is colostrum. This is a very thick, fatty and rich milk. Even if they only eat a little of it, it can give them nutrients to last them in that first day. Babies are all different, but I've found that the first night my babies usually sleep very well. My babies all preferred to sleep this first night through. If I were at home I wouldn't worry at all about them sleeping all night. In a hospital, I find I have to try to please the nurses so they will let me go home and they are not at all happy with you the next morning if you didn't feed your baby all night. But truly, my babies didn't want to wake to feed at all and I find it extremely frustrating to be trying to wake a sleeping baby in the middle of the night to eat when you both just want to sleep. Especially when you know that for the next couple days you will be feeding the baby pretty much hourly and not get much sleep at all.
I find the second night to be one of the hardest with baby up much of the night wanting to eat. I would only get one 3-4 hour stretch that second night and otherwise be feeding the baby hourly because that is how often he wanted to eat.
I find that babies eat often like this after the first day because they want that milk to come in. And it definitely helps to bring that milk in sooner if they suckle long and often. This is a hard time because newborns can take 30-40 minutes to eat and you may only get a 20 minute break or less sometimes before they want to eat again. This can make mama very sore. (This is why it's great to have help when you have a newborn even if you are already feeling good. You have to spend a lot of time feeding your newborn.) It's not good to try to lengthen the time between feedings if they are wanting to eat often. Baby is legitimately hungry! He wants that milk to come in! But don't worry, it will only take a few days.
My milk usually comes in on the fourth day and by the fifth, it is flowing freely! Now you may expect that baby will start eating less often, but it is important to just let the baby eat as often as it wants to because it needs to be gaining that weight back that it lost while waiting for the milk to come in.
It is normal for breasts to be sore, even very sore. I would curl my toes and just dread every time I had to breastfeed for days until it passed. It is pretty normal for breastfeeding to be painful for a short time, but do what you can to minimize it. Make sure baby has a good latch. If nipples are becoming chapped and bleeding, then baby is probably not getting a good latch. You should see someone with experience if this is a problem because it is very painful and not a necessary pain. Baby just needs to learn how to breastfeed well.
Also, at least two of my children got thrush in their mouths. This is a yeast infection that through childbirth passed to the baby's mouth, and onto your nipples. It is extremely painful, but easily resolved with some prescribed cream and/or gentian violet. Your doctor can diagnose that and prescribe what you need to recover. If you suspect thrush, look for white patches in the baby's mouth.
Unfortunately labour is not the last of the childbirth pains even if it is the worst. Besides the pain of sore breasts is the pain of cramps. Every time you breastfeed, oxytocin is released into your body causing uterine contractions not unlike labour. Your body is trying to return the size of your uterus back to normal. This is good because it will help to clamp up the uterus to stop the bleeding, but it is also very painful, because it is, after all, contractions. This will go away after a while too as your body heals.
With my first couple children, I was a little anti-medication, but now I figure I've been through enough pain and it's just for a short while until my body recovers and I would take Tylenol. Actually with my last, the cramps were not nearly so bad. The hospital I was in had the practice of putting you on a drip of Pitocin after childbirth. The cramps were so bad on the drip, but afterwards, I really didn't have such strong cramps while breastfeeding at all and my bleeding lightened up much more quickly.
Meconium is a fancy word for baby's first poop. It is a dark and very, very sticky and tarlike. And difficult to wipe off baby's bum. The first chance you get, take the vasaline a.k.a. petroleum jelly and smear it all over your baby's bottom before he has his first poop. It will be so much easier to clean up. Don't forget to keep reapplying it until baby's poop changes and is no longer meconium.
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