Once established, breastfeeding is usually easy for most mothers and babies and a very enjoyable experience.
However, in the first few days you both need to learn what to do. We don’t live in a village with other experienced mothers to guide us. You will need to practice and, if necessary, to get help and guidance from your health professional supporters.
Breast milk is a perfect, natural food for your baby and meets most babies needs until they are about six months old. It contains antibodies to protect your baby from infection. Sickness and diarrhoea (gastroenteritis, which may be very serious), chest infections, ear infections and urine infections are more likely in bottle-fed babies.
There are many comfortable positions to breastfeed your baby. Your baby needs to be held close to you and facing the breast without having to twist or turn their head sideways.
So: tummy to mummy, nipple to nose, baby to breast (not breast to baby.) A wide gape is needed for them to attach deeply taking in as much of the breast tissue (areola) surrounding the nipple as possible.
Common issues experienced in the first few weeks are sore nipples, very full breasts (engorgement) and mastitis. These usually occur because the baby is not attached to the breast correctly or not often enough.
Most babies breastfeed 8 to 12 times a day (sometimes even more) and in the early weeks usually for approximately 45 to 60 minutes a time. As they get older,feeds shorten as babies become very efficient feeders.
More feeding = More signals = More milk.
Breastfeeding is very portable – you can go out and enjoy life and even travel. Your milk is the right temperature, with the right ingredients, and is free, safe and clean.
Like us, sometimes we are hungrier and this is true of babies as well! They may be going through a growth spurt or developmental change. Remember More Feeding = More signals = More Milk.
Some mothers need to express milk as well because the baby is not getting enough from the breast or to increase their milk supply. If you think you may benefit from expressing, speak to a support person who is qualified in breastfeeding. You could check in with an experienced friend, chat with your midwife, or contact a Lactation Conultant. There are many options: hand expressing, using a hand pump, or using an electric pump.
Other reasons to see a Lactation Consultant are to have your position and latch observed if you are experiencing any problems or pain, to make an individual breastfeeding plan or to get all of your questions answered.
Please come to our Breastfeeding Drop in at MAMA in Kensington for support, hosted by Lactation Consultants Lynne and Sarah. We meet every Tuesday from 10am – 12pm and would love to meet you!