Mother and Baby

14 breastfeeding tips experts want you to know

Breastfeeding can be a difficult time for new mums, with feelings of fear, guilt and confusion going into overdrive. It shouldn't have to be this way, as breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the whole world.  Below, lactation experts tell us their top tips on how to breastfeed with ease, so you can nurse your baby and read a book at the same time. Yes, really! 

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1) Give baby a chance

‘For your first feed after birth, let your baby find and latch onto your breast on his own – we call this The Birth Crawl,’ says Geraldine Miskin, breastfeeding specialist and founder of The Miskin Method. ‘Have him skin to skin, lying on your tummy and watch how he wriggles, crawls and bobs around, until he finds your nipple. All you need to do is lie semi-reclined and make sure he doesn’t fall.’
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2) Spot the latch signs

‘With a good latch, your baby’s cheeks will be full and not sucked in,’ says Tess Randall, maternity nanny at childcare agency Tinies. ‘Most of your areola will be in his mouth – if you can see it from above, he’s probably latched onto the base of your nipple.’
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3) Listen out

‘Your baby’s tongue should be down when he’s feeding – a clicking sound indicates it’s up and he’s not latched on properly,’ says Tess. ‘There should also be a rhythm to his feeding – suck, suck, suck, swallow, which you should be able to hear.’
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4) Remember babies are different

‘Little ones all have different tummy capacities and will feed according to their age, stamina and ability,’ says Geraldine. ‘If you have a tiny baby, it’s totally normal for him to want to feed more often than a bigger baby, need to rest more during the feed and probably feed for longer stretches. This may be different to your friends’ little one who is double the size.’
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5) Make a feeding kit bag

‘Even when you’re at home – include things like a refillable water bottle (one with a sports top that you can open with one hand), something to read, cereal bars or fruit to snack on, nipple cream, muslins and your phone,’ says Nicki Pope, also part of the Tinies team. ‘That way you’re not up and down during the feed, and you can relax.’
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6) Let him feed often

‘Every one or two hours is absolutely normal in the first couple of weeks,’ says lactation consultant Lyndsey Hookway. ‘Your baby is born with a tummy the size of a marble and your milk will increase every day for about two weeks to gradually stretch this tiny tum. If your baby doesn’t want to feed then wake him, or express.’
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7) Trust your body

‘You have more than enough milk making cells in your breasts for four or five babies,’ says Lyndsey. ‘Your body doesn't know how much milk to make, though, so the first two weeks are a critical window for setting up your milk supply.’
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8) Keep snacking

‘Stress can contribute to suppressing the hormone oxytocin, which governs your milk flow – hunger and tiredness can cause stress, so it’s important to eat regularly throughout the day,’ says Elena Cimelli, author of The Contented Calf Cookbook: Nourishing Recipes for Breastfeeding Mums. ‘Stock up on healthy snacks – apricots and almonds are both great for milk production.’
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9) Go natural

‘During the first few feeds you secrete a natural moisturiser with a unique smell – it helps your baby latch and find his way to your breast,’ explains Sioned Hilton, breastfeeding counsellor for Medela. ‘Try not to apply nipple balm before feeds at this time, and be sparing with body spray, moisturisers and deodorants that can alter your natural scent.’
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10) Be on nappy alert

‘Basically, what goes in must come out,’ says Geraldine. ‘Monitor your baby’s nappies to check he is regularly urinating and pooing, as well as his weight gain to make sure he’s getting what he needs.’
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11) Keep a muslin to hand

‘If your baby keeps slipping off, try wiping your breast/nipple and baby’s mouth gently with the corner of a dry muslin square,’ says Sioned. ‘It may help and stop your baby slipping off – but if it continues, look at your latch.’
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12) Stay hydrated

‘Breast milk contains 88% water, so drink plenty to make sure both you and your baby are well hydrated,’ says Elena. ‘Water for you is by far the best fluid for breastfeeding – no added sugar, caffeine or calories, and it’s easily accessible.’
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13) Try different positions

‘Try various positions until you find one you’re comfortable with,’ says Sioned. ‘If you struggle with a feeding pillow, get your baby to latch on first and then bring the pillow. You can also use it to support your arm.’
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14) Perseverance is key

‘The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be very tough. You feel like you could do with an extra pair of hands to position your baby and breasts,’ says Nicki. ‘Many new mums feel guilty if they dread and aren’t enjoying feeding when all they hear about is how easy it is. Rest assured, it does get better.’ If you're struggling, don't feel bad - turn to the support out there and make a decision that's right for both you and your baby.

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