GETTING BREASTFEEDING OFF TO A GOOD START
Breastfeeding has huge benefits for both mum and baby, but it does take time and practice to get established. Getting off to the best possible start can play a key part in your breastfeeding journey.
BREASTFEED WITHIN THE FIRST HOUR OF BIRTH
The period after delivery is a special time for mom and baby to bond. Skin to skin contact will keep baby warm steady his heart rate and breathing. Being so close to you will keep him calm and nurtured. Ensure this time is not interrupted and unhurried, to enjoy this magical time together if possible (unless he is in need of medical care). If you are unable to have this skin to skin contact commence as soon as possible. Dad or your birth partner could start skin to skin if you are not available.
Skin to skin contact stimulates the release of the breastfeeding and mothering hormones. Most babies are alert and after some period of time will actively seek the breast for the first feed. If you were given pethidine or morphine during labour it may take baby slightly longer to take the feed. Leave baby skin to skin until he has the first feed.
KEEP YOUR BABY CLOSE DAY AND NIGHT
Rooming in allows you to get to know your baby and help establish breastfeeding. It increases your confidence in handling and caring for your baby. Keeping baby close will help you recognise early feeding cues and breastfeed responsively. It will help you learn what your baby cues are e.g. Sleepy, hungry or cuddle time. Having your baby close by increases the opportunity to have skin to skin contact. Babies spend less time crying and being distressed as mum is close by.
Most importantly Babies are exposed to normal bacteria on mother’s skin, which may protect them from becoming sick due to harmful germs.
EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFEED FREQUENTLY
Exclusively Breastfeeding means the baby only receives breastmilk without any additional solids or fluids even water. It ensures you have sufficient milk to meet the growing needs of a baby. Introducing formula may cause your milk supply to reduce.
Breastfeeding frequently ensures your baby is getting enough and helps build a robust milk supply.
In the newborn period, babies will feed 10-12 times in a day. Babies have tiny tummies and need to fill them frequently. At birth babies’ tummies are the size of a cherry and only take in small amounts of ‘liquid gold’ colostrum a teaspoon at a time. As your milk volume increases on Day 3-5 so does your baby’s tummy size to that of a walnut, by the end of the week to an apricot and at the end of the first month size of a large egg to accommodate the increasing volume of feed baby can consume.
BREASTFEED TO FEEDING CUES
Babies will let us know when they need to feed by signalling feeding/hunger cues. Feeding them on cue and not by the clock ensures babies are getting enough and keeps your supply up.
BRING BABY TO THE BREAST WHEN HE SHOWS THESE EARLY HUNGER CUES:
- Moving hands or fists to his mouth
- Making sucking motions, lip-smacking, nuzzling against or searching for your breast
- Crying is a late feeding cue. It is harder to feed a crying baby as it is difficult to attach to the breast. So soothe before attempting to feed.
GET HELP WITH YOUR LATCH
Breastfeeding is natural but it may take some time for you and the baby to learn. Getting help is important in the early days. As you and baby get more proficient breastfeeding gets easier.
A proper latch ensures baby is feeding efficiently and effectively to draw the milk from your breast. It also ensures your breasts are stimulated to produce more milk. Your nipples may become painful and cracked if the latch is not right.