Breastfeeding takes practice for you and your baby. Good job there are some simple ways to get breastfeeding established in the early days
Even before you have your baby, breastfeeding is a hot topic. From the benefits of doing it to the different experiences of your mum friends, chances are you heard and read about it. A lot.
Now, your baby’s here and it’s time to try it yourself. Breastfeeding can take practice – but there are definitely ways to set you and your baby up on the right track.
1. Have skin-to-skin contact
This will calm both you and your baby, plus it helps stimulate the release of the hormone oxytocin, which will help the process of bonding.
2. Ask to be watched
Get one of the midwives in hospital to supervise your first few attempts at feeding so she can see whether your baby is latched on properly.
3. Be aware of your let-down reflex
This is when muscles contract to release milk through your nipple.
Catch your initial milk with a towel or muslin
If your let-down is very fast, your baby may splutter on your milk.
If this is happening, catch your initial milk with a towel or muslin and then ease your baby back onto your breast for the slower flow.
4. Look out for engorgement
This is when your breast milk comes in and breasts become swollen and solid. Feed or express to relieve the pressure, as missing feeds can trigger the condition.
If the swelling doesn’t ease and you also feel under the weather, it’s worth checking that you don’t have mastitis.
5. Appreciate it takes time
The truth is, breastfeeding can be uncomfortable for the first few days. This eases with practise but, if your nipples become cracked or sore, treat with a nipple cream.
6. Avoid dummies
Try not to give a dummy to your baby until breastfeeding is well-established – usually at around six weeks. Otherwise, she’ll just get confused.
7. Be kind to yourself
Breastfeeding is a skill, so be your own positivity coach while you discover what works for you and your baby. That includes getting support. Your health visitor or a breastfeeding advisor will be happy to help.