Starting to breastfeed your baby can be a stressful and nerve wrecking experience. It is such a change from having your breasts private! The following tips have been prepared by the mother than runs Breastmates Breastfeeding store, based on her own experience of breastfeeding two children.
1. Stay calm. If you start to feel uptight or wound up, take a break for a few minutes and then try again. Baby may be able to pick up on your anxiety.
2. Don't place high expectations on yourself. It can take a while before your milk flows, before baby gets the hang of latching, and before you get things sorted.
3. While you are still in the hospital or maternity ward, make sure the nurse helps you to latch baby every time you feed. Ring your buzzer to call the nurse.
4. Breastfeeding does hurt to start with. As the baby draws your nipple into their mouth it can be a painful tearful experience for mum. The pain should stop about thirty seconds or so after baby is latched. It may be like this for 3 or 4 days with a newborn. If the problem persists - seek help from your midwife, plunket nurse, doctor or a lactation consultant.
5. The key to successful breastfeeding is making sure baby has the correct latch. Put baby on your breast when their mouth is open wide and full. Pull baby's head to your breast - don't drop your nipple down to baby as you will get sore shoulders and back.
6. When baby is latched their lips will be covering your breast in a "K" shape that looks like the K on Cellog's Special K cereal.
7. Always use lots of nipple cream after every feed. This is really important when you are first starting to breastfeed, so put some in nipple cream when packing your hospital bag. Apply after every feed.
8. If baby has an incorrect latch or if baby is not suckling properly, it is very easy to get cracked, grazed and very sore nipples. Always apply the nipple cream. And if baby is not latched comfortably on you, break the seal of their lips using your finger and start again.
9. If you are getting a sore neck, shoulders, or back it could be due to the weight of supporting baby in your arms while breastfeeding. You could invest in a special breastfeeding pillow which can ease the pressure on you. Or try some pillows or cushions from your bed to raise baby up.
10. It can take a while before you get co-ordinated enough to breastfeed discretely. Initially it will be easier if you have an open front top, and maternity bra. Then you can open the nursing bra cup and feed baby.
11. Be prepared with breast pads. Some mothers have a fast flow and quick letdown, and leak alot. Some mothers don't leak at all. You could try some disposable breast pads, or to save some money have a look at reusable breast pads.
12. Be prepared for the time it takes to breastfeed. Some baby's will take 20 minutes or longer to feed at your breast. And you will have to do this regularly through out the day. Most newborn baby's feed 3 to 4 hourly to start with. Your baby is relying on you for all their nutrition.
13. Get plenty of rest.
14. Drink plenty of water - have a glass of water after every breast feed.
15. And eat well - eat meals with lots of protein.
16. If you have another child, pack a lunch box, drink bottle and special activity box (stickers, colouring in, etc) for them first thing in the morning. Keep this at a level that the child can reach. Bring this out when you are feeding baby to amuse the older child while you are breastfeeding.
17. When you have got through the first two weeks or so, breastfeeding should be an enjoyable experience for you. Its a cheap and quick way to feed a baby.
18. If breastfeeding does not work for you, don't beat yourself up about it. It is important that baby is happy and healthy, and that mum is happy and healthy too.
For more information please view Breastmates specialty breastfeeding store.
For professional medical advice please speak with your midwife, plunket nurse, doctor, specialist, or lactation consultant.