What happens in your baby’s first years has a big effect on how healthy he or she will be in the future. Mum’s milk gives your baby all the nutrients he or she needs for around the first 6 months of life (and it’s important beyond 6 months too). It helps to protect your baby from infections and other diseases, and as a mum, it also reduces your chances of getting some illnesses later in life.
Breastfeeding also helps you and your baby to get closer – physically and emotionally. So while you are feeding your baby, the bond between you grows stronger. Infant formula is made from cows’ milk and other ingredients. It doesn’t contain the ingredients that help protect your baby from infection and disease. Only your body can make those.
Holding your baby against your skin straight after birth will calm your baby. It will also steady his breathing and help to keep him warm. This is a great time to start your first breastfeed because your baby will be alert and will want to feed in the first hour after birth. Your midwife can help you with this. Click hear
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Carry on with skin to skin when you get home, this helps you and baby to feel calm and also with feeding an older baby. Your baby will be happier if you keep him near you and feed him whenever he is hungry. This will remind your body to produce plenty of milk. It is fine to feed your baby when he needs comforting, when your breasts feel full or when you just want to sit down and have a rest. It is not possible to over feed a breastfed baby. This is called responsive breastfeeding – feeds are not just for nutrition, but also for love, comfort and reassurance between baby and mother.
There are lots of different positions for breastfeeding. You just need to check the following:
Is your baby’s head and body in a straight line? If not, your baby might not be able to swallow easily.
Are you holding your baby close to you? Support his neck, shoulders and back.
He should be able to tilt his head back easily, and he shouldn’t have to reach out to feed.
Is your baby’s nose opposite your nipple? Your baby needs to get a big mouthful of breast from underneath the nipple. Placing your baby with his nose level with your nipple will allow him to reach up and attach to your breast well.
Are you comfortable? It’s worth getting comfortable before a feed, although it’s ok to change your position slightly once your baby is attached to your breast.
Click here for more information on positioning and attachment.
Good attachment really is the key to successful breastfeeding!
It’s important to get this right so that:
Your baby needs you to respond to their feeding cues. Waiting until they cry for food will make it more difficult to breastfeed them.
For successful breastfeeding, you need to feed your baby whenever they asks, and for as long as they want at each feed. In the first few weeks you will get to know your baby and settle into a feeding pattern.
The more mum’s milk you give your baby, the more milk you will produce. Giving other food or drink will reduce your milk supply.
Remember – most babies don’t need anything other than breastmilk for about the first 6 months
Your baby has a large mouthful of breast.
Your baby’s chin is firmly touching your breast.
It doesn’t hurt you when your baby feeds (although the first few sucks may feel strong).
If you can see the dark skin around your nipple, you should see more dark skin above your baby’s top lip than below your baby’s bottom lip
Your baby’s cheeks stay rounded during sucking.
Your baby rhythmically takes long sucks and swallows (it is normal for your baby to pause from time to time).
Your baby finishes the feed and comes off the breast on his or her own.
Your baby should be having at least 6 heavy wet nappies and 2 dirty nappies in 24 hours.
You will find that some places have the blue picture of a mother feeding her baby in the window and this means that this establishment welcomes breastfeeding mothers but this is not an exclusive scheme. By law, the only places you can be refused access to breastfeed are places where there is a risk to the health and safety to you or your baby.
Practice makes perfect – if you’re feeling nervous, go with people to support you for the first few times to build your confidence.
Wear a nursing bra – this will make it easier to access you breast. You can buy special breastfeeding tops from most clothes store, but you don’t have to buy specific breastfeeding clothing. Many mothers find by wearing a camisole top underneath a looser top they can simply lift up the looser top and feed. Wearing a wrap cardigan or a big scarf that can be draped over you breast may help you feel more comfortable.
Click here for more information on breastfeeding in public.