At first, breastfeeding may seem daunting. As a mum, you may expect it to come naturally. For some mums it does, but for many it requires a bit more hard work. With some practice and the right help though, it can be stress-free, relaxing and enjoyable for you and your baby.
Breast feeding is good for baby and mum. It is convenient and breast milk is packed with antibodies to protect your baby against allergies and illness. It is also packed with goodness to help baby grow.
For mum, breastfeeding helps your womb return to its normal size more quickly and can also help burn the calories so can help with post pregnancy weight loss.
Despite all the worries and pressure you may feel to breastfeed, the important thing is to relax and do it your way. You know what is right for you and your baby, so trust yourself and take one step at a time.
Breast milk is free, sterile and packed with antibodies and nutrients to protect baby. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy however. It can take time for both mum and baby to get the hang of it.
- colostrum in the first few days to when your milk comes in
The first milk the breasts produce is a thick golden fluid called ‘colostrum’. It contains concentrated immunity properties to protect and nourish in the first few days of life before the milk supply comes in around day three.
- positioning yourself comfortably
There is no right or wrong way to breastfeed, but both baby and mum must be comfortable in the preferred position. Ask your midwife or health visitor for advice on positions, how to establish feeding or to check on baby’s latch.
- key essentials
Baby needs to be able to root for the nipple and there has to be a good latch to successfully feed. Sit in a comfortable chair with a pillow to support the weight of baby, muslin cloths to clean up milk dribbles and keep a glass of water nearby to stay hydrated.
- how to know if they are getting enough
A breastfed baby cannot ever be overfed, so take baby’s lead on when they want to be fed. A newborn baby will feed little and often, spacing out over time. Mum will often know when to offer a feed based on how her breasts feel – either full or with a tingly feeling.
Breast milk can be expressed if a baby will take a bottle. An electric or manual breast pump can be used to help reduce painful engorged breasts that can lead to mastitis, to stimulate milk supply or build up a store of frozen milk.
The time you spend with your baby is the perfect opportunity to bond and take some time to yourself. Try some gentle deep breathing and you could even try doing pelvic floor exercises at the same time that baby feeds to strengthen muscles that are put under a lot of strain in pregnancy and labour. A baby will feed up to 8 times a day in the early weeks, so it acts as a great mental reminder.
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