Although some new mums find it easy to breastfeed straight away, others need a bit of practise and patience before it goes smoothly. Your midwife, health visitor and other healthcare professionals are there to give you any help and support you need in getting started but remember, if you have any questions never be afraid to ask !
In the meantime, Philips AVENT has put together a short overview of breastfeeding basics for you.
Did you know your body needs a trigger to start producing breast milk ? It's provided by your baby when it suckles, so put your newborn to the breast as soon as possible after delivery. Your delivery midwife can help get you and your baby into the best, most comfortable position for this.
At first, your breasts will produce a small amount of a thicker, yellowish liquid called colostrum. Extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies, colostrum is very good for your baby. The more frequently you put your baby to the breast, the more your body will produce and around day 3 to 4 you will start to produce milk.
Once your milk 'comes in', youll probably feel a tingling in your breasts each time your body expects your baby to feed. Initially this may not always be when your baby actually wants to feed, but you will both establish a pattern in sync with each other. Your breasts may leak too, this is known as the 'let down' reflex. Whilst you are feeding your baby you may also feel tummy pain, sometimes known as 'after-pains', which is your womb contracting as you feed your baby.
Breastfeeding, Getting Started .........
First of all get yourself into a comfortable position, bear in mind you will be sat or laid in this position throughout the feed so being being comfortable yourself is important.
Hold your baby close to you with their nose level with your nipple.
Wait until your baby opens its mouth really wide (you can encourage them do this by gently stroking their lip).
Bring your baby onto your breast, never bring your breast to the baby as this could make you uncomfortable for the remainder of the feed which can result in back and neck ache.
Your baby will tilt its head back and and come into contact with your breast chin first, your nipple should go towards the roof of their mouth and they should take a large mouthful of breast and start to suckle.
If your baby hasn't taken enough of the breast and is not latched on properly put a clean finger into the corner of the babies mouth to release the suction and start again.
Expressing Breast Milk
To express breastmilk whether it be by hand or with a pump, you will need to have a wide-mouthed container which has either been sterilised or has been washed thoroughly with hot soapy water and then scalded with boiling water. Sit somwhere comfortable and relax.
To help with the let-down reflex you may want to sit in a warm bath or place warm flannels on your breasts before you start to try and express. You could also have your baby close by, or have your babys photo or favourite toy near by to remind you of your baby.
Next you need to gently massage your whole breast starting from the outside and working inwards - be careful not to drag your skin.
Put your thumb on top and your fingers underneath near the edge of the areola and gently press your thumb and fingers together, and then release. Repeat and after a short time the milk should start to flow. The nipple is made up of lots of tiny holes, rather than one big one so you may have a couple of jets of milk coming out at the same time.
You may need to try this a little bit further back than the areola on slightly different areas of your breast as everyone is different, but with a little experimenting you will find the places which work for you.
Another alternative is to try expressing from both breasts (but no at the same time of course !!)
There are many pumps available on the high street. Some pumps work manually and others are electric, however the principle is the same. They all try to mimic the suckling action of your baby when he/she is feeding.
Some mums find using a breast pump easier where as others prefer to express by hand it is all down to personal choice and what works for you.
This section is currently being updated to ensure we are always giving you the correct advice
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