tips for brilliant breastfeeding
Breast milk is the perfect food for babies, available on demand and packed with everything they need to grow and stay healthy. It's great for mother and baby to bond too. But just because breastfeeding is natural doesn't mean it comes easily to everyone. You'll find it easier if you're prepared, so why not take a look at these tips to find out what to expect?
1. listen to baby
Young babies want to feed frequently, whether it's for a quick snack, or a full meal! They are usually getting enough milk if they:
- are gaining weight
- have at least 6 wet nappies a day
- have soft, mustard coloured poo
- seem content when they are feeding
Your baby will stop or fall asleep once they have had enough, but offer the other side if they do want more.
2. look after yourself
Everyone says to relax when feeding, but it's not always easy, especially if you’re not getting on with feeding or are experiencing pain. There are ways to soothe the soreness in most cases, but if you're worried, give your midwife or health visitor a call.
sore breasts - you may feel tender as the milk flows into your breasts in the days after the birth. Warm flannels can soothe them and help the milk flow. Once you have settled into a feeding routine, it should subside.
sore nipples - if baby doesn’t latch on correctly, it can hurt. You can ease the discomfort by applying a pure lanolin balm or some of your milk onto the sore area. Chat to your midwife about your breastfeeding position as this can often be the cause of sore nipples.
blocked ducts - if you find a small tender bump on your breast or nipple during feeding time, it may mean a milk blockage. Try a warm bath or shower before you feed to help unblock the duct and encourage the milk flow.
3. keep eating and drinking
When you start feeding, you may feel very thirsty so it's a good idea to keep a glass of water close by. If you're extra hungry, try snacking on dried fruit, wholemeal toast or yoghurts. No food is really off-limits now, although it’s best to go easy on coffee and wine! Lots of caffeine may make baby restless: doctors recommend limiting yourself to a couple of mugs of coffee a day. A small glass of wine once or twice a week is OK, but regular drinking may harm baby's development and your milk supply.
4. give expressing a try
You can still give your baby the benefits of breast milk by expressing. If you have to be away from your baby, or you have extra milk and your breasts feel uncomfortably full expressing can help. You can use a pump or express by hand into a sterile container. Don't be disheartened if you only get a little milk at first: it can take a little while to perfect.
5. talk to others
Your midwife or health visitor will be more than happy to help with feeding and can help you and your baby into the right position for the first times. It can also be a big help to join a support group and hear from other mums, whether you're swapping ideas on dealing with discomfort or sharing the highs of getting it right. Try your local baby clinic, or check out the local NCT.