How we learn to breastfeed

It may be the most natural thing to do, but breastfeeding isn’t necessarily the easiest. Hooray though, because once you’re past the awkward first few days, it’s certainly the most fulfilling.

A healthy new born will generally latch on quite eagerly within the first hour of life, but the position of the baby is key for them to feed properly and not cause you a lot of pain. The following checklist can help. (Source: www.breastfeeding.nhs.uk)

Are your baby’s head and body in a straight line?

If not, your baby might not be able to swallow comfortably.

Are you holding your baby close to you?

Try to support his back, shoulders and neck. He should be able to tilt his head back easily. And he shouldn’t have to reach out to feed.

Is your baby’s nose opposite your nipple?

Your baby needs to get a big mouthful of breast from underneath the nipple. Placing your baby with his nose level with your nipple will allow him to reach up and attach to the breast well.

Breastfeeding

Are you comfortable?

It’s OK to change your position slightly once your baby is attached to your breast.

You can tell if your baby is feeding properly if:

  • Your nipples aren’t sore after the first few sucks (although they will take a while to toughen up, so some soreness for the first few days is to be expected)
  • Your baby’s chin is just touching your breast whilst feeding
  • Your baby’s cheeks remain rounded during the whole feed
  • You’re able to see more nipple above your baby’s mouth than below it
  • Your baby rhythmically sucks and swallows
  • You baby finishes the feed and comes off your breast on his own.

Some breastfeeding tips

  • If you need to take your baby off your breast at any time during the feed/mid suck, the easiest way is to slip a clean finger between your baby’s top lip and run it around to the side.
  • If you have sore nipples, check the latch is correct, and if it is and they’re still sore, use a nipple cream after every feed. Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream is our favourite.
  • If you’ve had a C-section and holding your baby across you stomach is uncomfortable, you can try the “rugby ball” position, whereby you hold your baby the opposite way, with their body under your arm, feet behind your back.

Do you have any tips?

Signs your baby is getting enough milk

Obviously with breastfeeding, you can’t see exactly how much milk your baby is getting but if the following is happening, you’re doing well:

  • Your baby is gaining weight after the first two weeks post birth.
  • There should be at least 6 wet nappies a day, and two yellow stools a day.
  • Your nipples shouldn’t be too sore.
  • Your baby will appear content after each feed and last for at least an hour or two, before the next feed.

The more you feed, the more milk your body will produce. By breastfeeding you’re providing your baby with all the nutrients he or she needs in the first few months of life, but you need to make sure you’re feeding yourself properly. Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and try not to drink too much caffeine. Alcohol can pass into breast milk so it’s wise not to consume too much but the odd glass (or two) won’t do any harm.

What happens if you want to stop.

Nothing terrible! If you’re struggling to breast feed, there is plenty of help and guidance out there (below are a few places that can offer you support ). Stress isn’t good for mums or babies though. If you can’t breastfeed for any reason, or if you’ve tried it and it’s not working, you shouldn’t feel guilty about swapping to bottle feeding. Your baby really isn’t going to mind and there are many bottle fed babies who have become perfectly healthy and thriving human beings.

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