How Do I Make Breastfeeding Easier

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding your baby may seem perfectly natural, but it can be surprisingly tricky. Read on for expert advice

Many mums want to breastfeed. Indeed, nearly 74 per cen of newborns are breastfed, according to the English NHS figures. But only 45 per cent of babies were still breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks, suggesting it isn’t always straightforward.

Start Straightaway.
If possible, breastfeed within the first hour after the birth, when your baby’s likely to be alert and receptive. Geraldine says, The simplest way to get your baby breastfeeding soon after birth is to do as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. When your baby is skin-to-skin with you, his heart rate drops to a relaxed pace, his adrenaline decreases and his appetite increases. He knows how to crawl and wriggle to get close to your nipple, how to root to find it and how to latch on. All you need do for the first few feeds is lie back with your baby on his tummy on your chest, and he’ll do the rest.

Keep things simple
In the early days, your baby may need feeding 8-12 times a day or more. So forget the housework and prioritise feeding your baby and taking care of yourself. Pretend you’re talking to your best friend. What would you tell her to prioritise: getting to know her baby or all the other stuff? This is a great time to just kick back, have duvet days and not worry too much about appearances. And if people offer to help, say yes!”

Get a good latch
Getting your baby latched on to your breast correctly is key to successful, comfortable feeding. Ask your midwife or a breastfeeding counsellor to check your position. When your baby latches on properly, not only will it be comfortable for you, but he’ll be able to transfer as much milk as he needs effortlessly, ensuring that feeds are efficient and don’t go on for hours. The more milk he drains, the more you’ll produce, so efficient drainage means your supply will always be enough to keep him satisfied.” Your baby’s nose (not his mouth) needs to be opposite your nipple. Wait until he opens his mouth wide with his tongue  (encourage this by gently stroking his top lip). He should tilt his head back and come to your breast chin-first, then take a large mouthful of breast. Your nipple should go to the roof of his mouth. If the latch doesn’t feel right, gently insert your little finger into the corner of his mouth to break the seal, then try again.

Research Positions
The ‘cradle hold’ is the position you usually see in pictures, but it isn’t the only way to breastfeed. You can try the ‘rugby ball hold’ (holding your baby underarm) or ask your midwife to show you how to feed lying down. Whichever position you use, your baby needs to be close to you, facing your breast, with his head and body in a straight line and his nose (not his mouth) opposite your nipple – remember the mantra ‘tummy to Mummy, nose to nipple’. Once you get feeding right, you’ll find a position that works. Until then, familiarize yourself with positions. You should consider your breast size and shape, and your birth and labor will make some positions comfier than others.

Invest in accessories
The great thing about breastfeeding is that typically you don’t need as much paraphernalia as you do when bottle-feeding. But there are many products that can make breastfeeding more comfortable and sustainable. Consider a nursing pillow, which wraps around your body and helps to get your baby into position. You’ll also need breast pads, front-opening nursing bras. A pump will enable you to express milk if your breasts feel uncomfortably full (you can also express by hand).

Call the professionals
Get professional help immediately if you’re struggling, breastfeeding is painful, your baby’s not putting on weight, or is discontented during or straight after feeds. Talk to your midwife or GP initially.  Breastfeeding is a learned skill, which comes easily for some and with practice for others. If you have a bumpy start, don’t lose hope – get some help quickly. If you feel something is seriously wrong, get help,  my advice is trust your instincts.

Get support
You’ll need both emotional and practical support while breastfeeding. So make sure your partner, friends and family understand and support your decision. They can  offer encouragement as well as practical help, such as researching online or enlisting professional help when you’re too tired
to think straight. Also ask your midwife if there’s a local breastfeeding support group.

Health professionals and trained volunteer breastfeeding counsellors do offer support, and you get to know other mums. It helps knowing you aren’t the only person to struggle. Breastfeeding is hard and this helps.’ You think breastfeeding will be easy, but it isn’t always, so get all the support you can.”

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