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Breastfeeding Is Not Supposed to Be Painful. Here's Why It Hurts
  • Every new breastfeeding mom’s primary concern is whether her baby is getting enough breast milk. So she tends to panic when she thinks she isn't producing enough. One way to avoid the anxiety is to picture your baby's stomach capacity. 

    At our first "Smart Parenting Baby Shower" for the year at the Makati Diamond Residences last March, Noelle Polack, a birth and postpartum doula from the Pinoy Doula Collective, says the moms' worry stems from the breast milk flow especially during the first day: “Drops lang siya lumalabas.” But, as Polack explains, a mom with a newborn needs to keep in mind that her baby's stomach is slightly larger than that of a calamansi. 

    Here's a photo that shows a baby's stomach capacity until he's a month old. 

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    Based on the above infographic, a baby needs small but frequent feedings. Day 3-5 is when the milk volume starts to increase for most mothers. And direct breastfeeding signals your body to produce more breast milk. 

    Polack also addresses another issue for breastfeeding moms: Pain, the kind that's mahapdi and — make no mistake —will make you cry. Noelle, who is a mom of two, experienced it with her first baby. She soon discovered that she could have avoided the pain if her baby was latching properly. 

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    How do you know if your baby is latching properly? Feel the palate behind your teeth — it feels hard, right? Imagine if your nipple is in that area of your baby’s mouth while she feeds — it will hurt. To lessen the pain, your nipple should be farther into the baby’s mouth, which is called an asymmetrical latch.

    This type of latch will also let the baby receive more milk from the breast while lessening the likelihood of sore nipples, according to the International Breastfeeding Centre.

    The first step to getting a correct latch is to position your baby properly. “The baby has to be tummy to tummy with the mom,” explains Noelle. She suggests the reverse cradle, which is great for newborns and moms with big breasts.

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    If babies are irritated and won’t stop crying, you can try to breastfeed while walking. “The baby has been with you [in your womb] for nine months, so walking gives her the same sensation that she is used to,” says Noelle. For cesarean moms, a football hold is more advisable. (Read up on the different breastfeeding positions here.)

    Your baby’s mouth should be wide open with her lower and upper lip flanged out, like a fish (like the baby's lips in the photo for this story). “What we want is for the whole mouth to be able to move,” Noelle says. “It’s the jaw movement that helps with milk transfer. It also helps with the baby’s jaw development.”

    “You want your baby to take in more breast tissue from under,” she adds.

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    If your baby is not opening her mouth wide, use your pinky finger to tickle the side of the baby’s mouth or apply slight pressure on your baby’s chin, advises Abbie Yabot, a breastfeeding counselor in a previous article for SmartParenting.com.ph.

    To ensure that you’re getting a correct latch, the areola and not just the nipple should be inside your baby’s mouth. Her chin should be pressing on your breast, with her nose right above the breast area (but shouldn’t touch the skin).

    If the latch is wrong, remove the baby’s mouth and try again, advises Noelle. Don’t push more breast tissue in her mouth in the hopes of correcting it.

    To learn more breastfeeding basics, click here

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