7 tips for breastfeeding your newborn
1. Breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery
Regardless of how you deliver, whether by caesarean section or a natural delivery, you’ll be encouraged to have skin to skin contact with your baby immediately after birth. This helps to stimulate your milk production, regulates baby’s temperature and strengthens the bond between mum and baby.
You will also be encouraged to feed your baby at the breast within the first hour after birth, again this will help to stimulate your milk supply. Your baby may not actively feed at the breast during this first feed, instead choosing to just nuzzle and lick the nipple, however this process is important for the development of baby’s sucking reflexes.
2. Prepare for your breastfeeding session
Make sure that you’re sitting or lying comfortably. A nursing pillow or a comfortable armchair to sit in can relieve the pressure on your back and shoulders when you breastfeed.
If you have had a Caesarean section, it will usually be easiest to lie on your side with your head supported by pillows when you breastfeed lying down. Your baby should also lie on their side, with their ribcage slightly lower than your breast.
It can be practical to use a nursing bra and breast pads to absorb any leakage from your breasts and to keep them warm and dry. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids! One tip is to fill a large jug with water to keep beside you. Most new mums find that breastfeeding makes them very thirsty.
Always follow the principles of tummy to mummy and nose to nipple when bringing baby in towards the breast.
3. Find a good breastfeeding technique
To avoid breastfeeding pain, such as sore nipples, it’s important that your baby gets a big mouthful of breast. Make sure that your baby’s body and head are aligned in a straight line against your breast, known as tummy to mummy.
You can stimulate your baby’s inborn rooting reflex by brushing against their cheek with your nipple. Your baby will then turn towards your breast and begin to root and nudge. The nipple should come straight into your baby’s mouth, the baby’s lips should be slightly flared and as much of the baby’s mouth as possible should enclose the areola.
To enable you to effectively latch baby on always follow the principles of tummy to mummy and nose to nipple when bringing baby in towards the breast.
Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand, so the more you demand of your body the greater your supply.
4. Breastfeed your newborn baby frequently
Once you start to breastfeed, your body releases the breastfeeding hormones oxytocin and prolactin. Oxytocin is also known as the feel-good hormone: it gives you a feeling of trust, safety and calm. It also stimulates the letdown of milk from your breasts. Prolactin is a hormone that stimulates milk production.
Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand, so the more you demand of your body the greater your supply. It is important to recognise your baby’s feeding cues and feed on demand when your baby shows signs of hunger. This is likely to be very frequently in the first 6-8 weeks but will then start to space out a little. Signs such as rooting with the fist or fingers in the mouth, smacking of the lips, fidgeting are all feeding cues.
5. Let breastfeeding be your peaceful time together
Try to keep breastfeeding sessions as calm and stress-free as possible, especially in the beginning before breastfeeding has started properly. Stress can reduce milk production. It’s easier said than done, but try to switch off your phone and keep any siblings occupied.
6. Breastfeeding a newborn takes time
All babies are different. Feeds can take anything from a few minutes to 30 minutes or longer. Let your baby decide the frequency and duration of feeding. Some babies feed quickly; others take longer and may even nap for a while during a feed. Babies are unpredictable and each day may be different.
7. Be patient and ask for help if you need it
It can feel really stressful if you find breastfeeding difficult but try to be patient and don’t give up too quickly. You may need a lot of support at first, so never be afraid to ask for help. Contact your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding specialist. Sometimes all you need is a slight adjustment of your technique or some encouraging words to make everything feel easier.
Sources: babycenter.com, womenshealth.gov
This article is reviewed by Katie Hilton, qualified midwife and health visitor, UK.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help and advice
Always contact your GP if you suspect that you or your baby is unwell. Also contact your GP if you suspect that your baby isn’t getting enough milk or if you experience persistent breastfeeding pain.
If you have questions, or need help and advice, contact your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding specialist.