Here are some useful tips to make sure you and your baby go through a smooth transition into the world of breastfeeding:
- Feed your baby as soon as you can – straight after the birth is ideal if you and your baby are well.
- Get help with positioning because if it hurts, there’s a problem. Initial tenderness is normal while soreness that gets worse is not. Midwives in hospital, or community midwives who visit you at home, can help you change things so they are not as painful. Creams and other potions on your nipples won’t help with soreness if the underlying cause is poor positioning.
- Keep your baby close to you. Skin to skin contact (as and when possible) with your baby nestled against you can be soothing for your baby and will help you respond to signs she makes when she wants to feed.
- Frequent feeding is normal in the early days of hunger is an active instinct. Don’t try to make your baby go a set time between feeds as a routine can be set later as and how your baby reacts to feedings.
- Offer both breasts at every feed. It doesn’t matter if your baby only takes one.
- Breastfeeding is something you and your baby have to learn and it can take a little while for it to feel normal and natural. What goes on in the first days and weeks changes for the better as time goes by.
- Don’t introduce your baby to any kind of bottles while you’re still establishing breastfeeding. The use of a bottle and the teat can affect your baby’s ‘skill’ at breastfeeding.
- Are you experiencing soreness after a long period of pain-free feeding? This could be the result of thrush (a fungal infection) on your nipples. Meet your doctor as both you and your baby will need treatment.
- Forget the clock when you’re breastfeeding. The amount of time your baby is on the breast is irrelevant to success and doesn’t reflect the amount of milk she’s getting. Some babies get what they need in a few minutes, whereas others take a lot longer.
- Most babies have natural pauses in their feeds which are variable in length. But long feeds (say, regularly over an hour) which fail to keep your baby happy and leave him hard to settle, is a sign that something’s not right. Check positioning, to ensure your baby’s ability to take a more satisfying feed.
- Regularly change your breast pads as damp breast pads quickly develop bacteria.
- Gently remove your baby from the nipple by breaking the suction seal they have created. This can be done by slowly sliding your finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth and gently pulling him away.
- Squeeze a little milk onto your nipple and massage this in. If possible leave your nipples to dry in the open air. This will help maintain health and hygiene.