From checking your latch to boosting your milk supply, run through this breastfeeding checklist if you’re struggling
Breastfeeding comes more easily to some mums than others, but lots of women struggle.
The most important thing is what’s right for both you and your baby, so don’t beat yourself up if you decide to move on. But, before you do, it’s worth running through these ideas to see if there’s a solution you hadn’t thought of.
1. Work out a routine
If you’re exhausted from feeding on demand, try and establish a pattern.
‘If your baby weighs more than 7lb, I recommend a feed every three hours during the day, and then every three and a half or four hours at night,’ says Tess Randall, maternity nanny for childcare agency Tinies. ‘And keep to the same times, so both of you have some sort of structure and know when you’re feeding.’
Your baby should get used to this quite quickly – it’ll probably take around a week to adjust from a previous feeding pattern. If you need other ways to comfort him between feeds, perhaps try a walk in the fresh air or some time with dad.
2. Get dad involved
Expressing milk for a bottle can get your partner involved in feeds – and give you a break to sleep. You can start this once your milk has come in anywhere between three and six days, so after the colostrum stage.
‘If you express in the early days, you’ll produce more milk than you need, so when your baby has growth spurts around one, six and nine weeks, you’ll have enough to support his growing appetite,’ explains Tess.
The best time to express is in the morning when your breast is at its fullest.
3. Drink enough
Successful breastfeeding is about taking care of your own health, too – and staying hydrated keeps your milk supply up.
‘Try and have two litres of water a day, or at least decaffeinated drinks or refreshing herbal teas,’ says Tess.
Also eat well – porridge is a good energy food for these early months, plus it’s quick and easy to make.
4. Check your latch
The signs that your baby’s attached correctly include full (not sucked in) cheeks, a swallowing sound and his whole jaw line moving. There also shouldn’t be a clicking sound, which suggests his tongue is up – it needs to be down when he’s latching on.
There also shouldn’t be a clicking sound, which suggests his tongue is up
‘Also look for his mouth opening wide and him taking in a lot of the areola, not just the end of the nipple,’ says Tess. ‘Painful nipples are usually a sign that the latch isn’t right, so take your baby off and try again to see if it improves.’
Shooting pains during or after feeding can be a sign of thrush, while any kind of temperature, red/hot patch on your breast or flu-like symptoms can indicate an infection, so see your doctor. Click here for more information about discomfort when breastfeeding and the best solutions.
5. Understand milk supply
If you’re worried you’re not making enough milk, you can try a few things to boost your supply. ‘Fenugreek and fennel tea are both thought to help,’ says Tess.
‘Also express every day after feeds to help stimulate your breasts and indicate that they need to make more milk.’
6. Switch position
No single position suits everyone, so try a different one to see if it helps.
Lying down can be more comfortable if you’re recovering from a Caesarean, for example, while a clutch hold can be easier if you have large breasts.
7. Change your bra
Hard lumps in your breast (that feel almost like marbles) can be a sign of blocked milk ducts.
‘These tend to be just above the nipple area and could be down to problems with attachment – or a poor fitting bra,’ says Tess. Try not to hold your breasts during feeds, as this can lead to lumps, too.
‘If you do have them, massage down the breast as you feed or express, which encourages your baby to pull out the block.’ If the lumps are painful and not cleared by your baby after three feeds, then seek medical advice.
8. Get support
If you’re having difficulties, make the most of the support out there.
As well as your health visitor, this also includes local breastfeeding groups, phone helplines and being put in contact with other mums for advice.
Did you face any breastfeeding obstacles? Let us know on the comments board below.