how to breastfeed and enjoy it
Breast milk contains everything your newborn baby needs, helping them grow and protecting them from infection. The added bonus is that breast milk is free, always available and is the exact right temperature for your baby. At the same time, you'll release hormones that help you relax and bond with your little one. But breastfeeding doesn't always come naturally and we all find it a little challenging at first. Don't worry, we're here to help.
are you sitting comfortably?
The first step is getting comfortable. Gather breastfeeding pillows, muslin cloths, breast pads and a drink for yourself (you might be in this for the long haul) before you sit down so everything is within reach. The first feed can be tricky, so ask your midwife to help position your baby. It’s also a very good idea to make sure you are wearing a well-fitting nursing bra to keep you comfortable and your breast pads in place.
Who knows what latching on looks like until they’ve done it? As a guide, the nipple and most of the areola should be inside baby’s mouth. Even though breastfeeding can sometimes be painful, it’ll hurt less if your baby’s gums are behind the base of the nipple.
how much is enough?
It can be difficult to know if your baby is getting enough. Luckily, in this situation baby knows best, so let them feed for as long as they like – it could be ten minutes or much longer at first. As a guide your breasts will feel less full and heavy after a good feed and your baby will also look sleepy and content. As you get used to breastfeeding you will start to read your baby’s signs and know your body’s response to breastfeeding better.
Your baby will start with quick sucks that become slower and more rhythmic once the milk begins to flow. If they settle well afterwards, have at least six wet nappies a day and are gaining weight, then your baby is feeding well.
If your little one starts to drift off to sleep while feeding they may need winding. If they seem full you can place them gently down to sleep and enjoy a little quiet time. If they wake up and cry, they probably want more milk.
If your little one has dry nappies and doesn’t gain weight as expected, talk to your midwife to see what else you can try.
Breastfeeding can be a little challenging to start with but don’t worry. You and baby can get lots of help from local breastfeeding support groups, your midwife or health visitor. With a bit of practise you'll soon both enjoy the experience.