TOP TIPS FOR BREASTFEEDING SUCCESS
Remember...only IF you Want to breastfeed!
Breastfeeding is always promoted as being the easiest and the best way to feed your newborn. The health benefits appear endless and the lovely videos of baby's snuggled into mum and feeding with contentment abundant. Sadly, reality biting can cause us to admit defeat sooner than we had wanted or expected.
So here are The Honest Midwife's Top Tips for success
TALK IT THROUGH
Have a good old chat with your partner before your baby arrives to decide what your approach is. Are you open to changing your mind or do you feel determined to breastfeed. Understanding this before your baby arrives can really help you to be focused on your goal when tiredness sets in.
Harvest some colostrum before your baby arrives. That way you will have something to give your baby if she is reluctant to attach, you will be able to tell the midwife what you have given and you will feel more relaxed knowing that she has had something. Read more here
IT CAN TAKE 6 WEEKS
Your baby is here! Congratulations! Put a big red cross in your diary for 6 weeks from the date of arrival. Even when breastfeeding is plain sailing it can still take up to six weeks to really get things established. Make a note of when your baby will be 6 weeks old. Fingers crossed if you hang in there things should be much easier by this point.
One of the most common stumbling blocks is soreness. Having sore or cracked nipples is no joke but is caused by an incorrect latch. If you are unsure ask your midwife to check that the baby is latched on correctly. Invest in good quality nipple creams to care for you skin. Lansinoh is a really good and recommended nipple cream - really worth the extra pennies. Use before and after feeding. It's also important that you change your breast pads frequently.
THE GOLDEN HOUR
Nature is very clever but, like most things, it's not perfect. On the day of your baby's birth your breasts are not full of milk ready to satisfy the appetite of a tiny human. Try to encourage your baby to go to the breast as soon as possible following birth as it is the sucking that will start the milk production. Sometimes this isn't possible due to the circumstances of your baby arrival - just to the best you can and ask the midwife or support worker to help you get baby feeding as soon as possible.
TRY NOT TO WORRY ABOUT VOLUME
In those first few days parents often worry that their baby isn't getting enough and that they want to give a formula top-up. The truth answer is your baby isn't getting enough but is getting all that is needed to sustain health until milk volume arrives. In the last few weeks of pregnancy babies lay down brown fat - just like polar bears - before they go into hibernation. The purpose of this brown fat is to see them through the lean times ahead. The three days post birth are your baby's lean times! Just like when we go on a diet, we get enough food to keep up fit and well but not enough to make us feel totally full! What happens? We lose weight! Remember for the first few days your baby is effectively on natures enforced diet. That is why we weigh babies and 9 out of 10 times baby looses some weight.
FEED ON DEMAND
The process of breastfeeding is based on a supply and demand system. By allowing your baby to suck at the breast as often as she wants to the signals will come thick and fast to the production system to get the milk flowing. When we give top-ups these messages are not getting through because the baby isn't sucking. Things do get a little easier once your milk "comes in". Once there is volume your baby will get that lovely feeling of being full. Beware though! Babies are able to absorb breastmilk really efficiently and hence often feed more and sleep less than formula fed babies!
Remember that on day 7,14,21..... (it really does usually follow this pattern give or take a day or so) babies cluster feed. Don't take this as a sign that you are not producing enough. This is almost a reset button and the same principals apply as the first few days. Your baby is sending signals that more volume is needed because "growin' is occurring!" Hang in there, keep going and things will settle down. Your baby is just placing a milk order. Just like our Grandparents did with the milk man! These days are hard going! Make sure that you don't try to do too much. Ask friends round rather than going out, get comfy on the sofa, let your family look after you whilst you do your feeding work!
Make sure that you drink lots of water or juice. Breastfeeding is thirsty work and it is important that you don't become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include; dark concentrated urine, weeing less, headache, fatigue and dizziness. Avoid these symptoms by having a drink every time you feed.
Ideally you should wait until you have breastfeeding established before you start expressing. Letting baby do all the work is the most efficient way of getting that milk supply going. However, you may wish to express earlier and, that's OK too! Always remember, you are in the driving seat. When you do start to pump it is worth bearing in mind that we product our best milk in the night so it is worth considering putting this into your routine. Don't forget you can freeze breastmilk too.
Please do not let how you feed your baby be a source of stress or anxiety. For some the experience is an amazing and treasured one but for others it can be a period of time that is tinged with sadness. Don't let that be you. Before you know it your photos will look like this one and all your feeding woes will be a thing of the past. Enjoy your baby whilst you can - they grow up so quickly.