Learning to breastfeed
Each mother and baby’s experience of breastfeeding in the early days is different, as both learn this new skill together. Their unique labour and birth will have an impact on their experience of breastfeeding. So here are 5 tips we hope you’ll find helpful for those early days.
Keep your baby close
Keeping your baby as close as possible to you (as much as possible) in the early days has so many amazing benefits for both you and your baby. It helps stimulate both of your natural instinctive behaviours to breastfeed which will help your baby with rooting and attaching. Whilst also stimulating oxytocin and prolactin hormones which will help with bonding and milk production. It is also great for putting your feet up and having a cuddle.
Breastfeeding is about so much more than milk. Its about having a relationship together, responding to your baby cues, listening to your body (feeding when you feel full), and about comfort and relaxation for both of you. Every baby and breast is different and how each mother and baby will feed is different. Knowing that breastfeeding is not just about nutrition but also about love, comfort and bonding, helps to reframe that breastfeeding is not just about food but so much more.
Hand expression is wonderful for so many things. It is a great way to understand how your breasts work and get used to how they feel. You can do it before your baby is born (from 36 weeks – check with your midwife that you have no contraindications) or once they’ve arrived. It is a way to help your baby feed if they need encouragement to feed, if there are difficulties with feeding or if your breasts are feeling very full. See the NHS for expressing and storing milk.
If things become challenging then breastfeeding support can be a wonderful encouragement to keep going. Seeing someone who has experience and knowledge can give you reassurance and support. This comes in many forms from a Lactation Consultant visiting you at home, a breastfeeding telephone helpline, or a breastfeeding group where you can meet other mums in a similar situation to you, grab a cup of coffee and get some support from someone experienced.
Go with the flow
Every day will be different and as your baby grows, how and when you and your baby want to breastfeed will change. The range of ‘normal’ in breastfeeding is so vast. The frequency and length of a feed are unique to you and your baby as everyone is different and so is each mum and baby’s feeding journey. Follow each others lead and go with the flow.
AUTHOR: LIZZIE KNIGHT
LACTATION CONSULTANT, SURREY
Lizzie Knight, is the co-founder of Baby hive. She worked in the NHS as a specialist midwife in Infant Feeding. She is a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a KG Hypnobirthing accredited teacher, a Registered midwife, nurse and health visitor.