Most new moms know that breast milk is the best, healthiest option for baby. But what surprises many women is that breastfeeding does not always come naturally.

“New moms can deal with challenges like sore nipples, low milk supply or engorgement,” said Kolene Moore, certified lactation consultant at Methodist Women’s Hospital. “Sometimes they aren’t prepared to deal with those challenges and they give up before they are really ready. Just a few solutions may help them get through those difficult first days.”

Help is available for all nursing moms from lactation consultants at Methodist Women’s Hospital and Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital – whether you deliver at Methodist or not. If you’re searching for solutions, here are their top ten tips for better breastfeeding:

>> Get an early start. You should start nursing as early as you can after delivery (within an hour or two if it is possible), when your baby is awake and the sucking instinct is strong.

>> Make sure the baby latches correctly. The baby should have the nipple and areola in the mouth. The top lip should be closer to the nipple, the bottom lip should take in more areola, and the chin should be against the breast.

>> Nurse on demand. Newborns need to nurse often. Breastfeed at least every 2 hours and when they show signs of hunger.

>> Feed your baby only breast milk for six months. Other liquids reduce the baby's intake of vitamins from breast milk.

>> Delay artificial nipples (bottle nipples and pacifiers). A newborn needs time to learn how to breastfeed. It is best to wait until her or she develops a good sucking pattern before introducing a pacifier.

>> Breastfeed your sick baby during and after illness. Oftentimes sick babies will refuse to eat but will continue to breastfeed. Breast milk will give your baby needed nutrients and prevents dehydration.

>> Air-dry your nipples. Right after birth, allow your nipples to air-dry after each nursing to help keep them from cracking and becoming infected.

>> Watch for infection. Signs of breast infection include fever, irritation, and painful lumps and redness in the breast. See a doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms.

>> Promptly treat engorgement. It is normal for your breasts to become larger, heavier and a little tender when they begin making greater quantities of milk on the 2nd to 6th day after birth. When this happens, you should feed the baby often until your body adjusts to produce only the amount your baby needs.

>> Eat right and get enough rest. You may be thirstier and have a bigger appetite while you are breastfeeding. Drink enough non-caffeinated beverages to keep from being thirsty. Producing milk uses about 500 extra calories a day. Continue your improved pregnancy diet after your baby is born to keep yourself healthy.

If you are in need of additional help or information, contact a certified lactation consultant.

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