Many women decide during pregnancy they want to breastfeed their babies when they are born. While breastfeeding is perfectly natural it still takes some getting used to and there are many (common) concerns Mums have when they begin their breastfeeding journey. Questions like “How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?”, “Will it hurt?” and “Where can I get help if I need it?” are very common themes. We’ve set out 10 tips and tricks for Mums who are planning on breastfeeding, a little guide if you like to answer the most commonly asked questions and hopefully answer any questions you may have.
- Attend a breastfeeding specific antenatal class
The Australian Breastfeeding Association run breastfeeding classes as do many hospitals. Its definately worth getting as much information as you can before your baby is born.
- Feed your baby as often as he or she wants to be fed.
Breastfeeding your baby on demand (or feeding according to need) is the best way to establish and continue to build a good milk supply. Your breasts will refill automatically when emptied so regularly feeding your baby ensures your breasts are making sufficient milk. Breastfed babies cannot be overfed.
- Don’t watch the clock
Allow your baby to set the timing of feeds, when and how long for.
- Learn your baby’s hunger cues
Babies give out many signals of hunger before they start to cry for food. Signs include smacking or licking their lips; opening and closing their mouth or sucking on their fingers, toes, toys, clothing or even you! Feeding your baby at the early hunger signs makes it so much easier for them to attach before they get distressed and start to cry in earnest. Its much harder to correctly attach a very upset baby.
- Learn how to attach your baby correctly to the breast
Initially it can be hard to work out how to attach baby, particularly if they’re very hungry and upset. The signs your baby is properly attached to your breast are:
- it doesn’t hurt!
- you can see your baby’s lips are curled back slightly
- your baby’s chin is against your breast
- you may be able to see and hear your baby’s swallows
- Breastfeed in a position that’s relaxing and comfortable for you both
You can breasteed lying down in bed together, or sitting in your favorite chair. You don’t have to be sitting upright. Take the opportunity to have a break together :).
- Use your breastmilk to heal
If you do get a cracked or sore nipple expressing a little bit of breastmilk and rubbing it into the crack and allowing it to air dry will expedite healing.
Learn the signs that your baby is getting enough milk Some good signs that your baby is getting enough milk are:
- happy and mostly alert baby with good skin tone and colour
- allow baby as much milk as she or he wants (at least 6 times per day)
- well fed babies will have 5 or 6 pale yellow wet (disposable) nappies and soft bowel motions
- your baby is gaining weight and filling out his or her clothes
- Rest when your baby rests
This isn’t particular to breastfeeding but for all the Mums. Rest when your baby is resting. Take time for yourself, read a book, have a lie down when your baby is sleeping.
- Breastfed babies don’t need to poo all the time
Don’t panic! It will come and believe me, when it does it could be a poo-explosion! In the early days babies may poo 6 times a day, or with every breastfeed. Seems like food goes in and food comes out the other end. After 6 weeks or so breastfed babies don’t poo as much, and will go as long as 7-10 days between poos. That’s perfectly normal.
- If it doesn’t work out, that’s ok too.
Don’t punish yourself, babies thrive on formula too. Be kind to yourself and remember, every single breastfeed you did share was a great achievement.