Breastfeeding can be a daunting prospect for any new mother. Although you may think that breastfeeding is a simple task, just getting comfortable, getting your baby to latch on and working out exactly when and how often your baby needs to feed can be a minefield for any new mum to negotiate.
Breast milk is best for your baby and does contain plenty of nutrients and vitamins – babies who are breastfed are much less likely to be ill in the first year of their life.
One of the most important things to remember with breastfeeding is that it does take some patience and some practise, but most new mums will be able to breastfeed very successfully. However, if you are unable to breastfeed, try not to beat yourself up about it.
Breastfeeding for just a few weeks can help to give your baby some of the right nutrients that they need. If you’re unable to breastfeed, speak to your doctor or midwife for advice on the best formulas to try that have the best nutrients for your baby so that you can continue to protect your baby against sickness.
Before your baby arrives, try to learn as much as possible about breastfeeding so that you are ready when your baby comes. Talk to your partner about breastfeeding too, so that they can support you.
Remember that feeds can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes, and they can happen at any time of the day or night. There is no ‘right’ atmosphere to feed in – if you prefer peace and quiet, feed in peace and quiet. If you prefer background noise, feed in front of the television.
Most mums find that a seated position with baby cradled across their chest, propped up with a few cushions, is the most comfortable position for them, although the best position is whichever position is most comfortable for you. Make sure you’re in a position that won’t cause you to have an aching back or neck.
Before you start feeding, make sure that you’re in a comfortable position. When you bring the baby to the breast to latch, she should take in a mouthful of breast tissue. Her head should be tipped back, and her chin should be leading in position to your breast. Her lips should touch your nipple, and your baby will then respond by dropping their lower jaw. Move them quickly and smoothly to your breast.
Once your baby has latched on, their jaw will move up and down and they will swallow the milk as it flows from your nipple to the back of their mouth. It shouldn’t hurt you, as your nipple should be far back in your baby’s mouth, meaning that it won’t be scraped with your baby’s gums or pinched by her tongue. If latching on and feeding does hurt, your breast may be in the wrong position.
Some mums adjust to breastfeeding very easily. Others don’t. Either way, you are perfectly normal – how a new mother reacts to breastfeeding will vary from mother to mother. If you have trouble getting your baby to latch on but you are able to produce milk and your baby is able to breastfeed, speak to your doctor for some advice on how exactly to get your baby to latch on or try seeing a lactation specialist.
Also, it’s worth noting that sometimes, brushing your baby’s mouth with the nipple will cause them to latch on automatically – it’s like a reflex action, so make sure that you give this a try!
If you have a bad feeding day, just remember that it is just one day. Take each feed as it comes. Some days, your baby will be cranky, fussy and fidgety, making it difficult to get them to feed properly. At other times, your baby will be a dream and will be calm and quiet and will latch on immediately. This is just what babies do! Sometimes they are cranky, sometimes they are not – take each mood as it comes and this should stop you getting stressed out about feeding.
You should also remember to buy a couple of comfortable, well-fitting nursing bras. Nursing bras are especially supportive and usually have flaps or zippers that will enable to you expose your breast without having to take off your bra.
Just be aware that if your bra only offers a small opening for breastfeeding, this could squash your breast and cause problems such as blocked milk ducts, which can be painful. It’s also a good idea to keep a supply of breast pads at the ready so that you can mop up any leaked milk – some mothers will find that their breasts leak milk often or when they hear another baby cry, for example, and so using breast pads will stop you from leaking through your bra.
For more information about breastfeeding or to discuss any worries, speak to your midwife or doctor.
If you are ready to lose weight then The Healthy Mummy plans offer a healthy and safe exercise and diet routine that are safe if you are breastfeeding.