Ten tips to make breastfeeding easier
If you approach breastfeeding the right way, and keep some simple guidelines in mind, it should be a very positive experience for both you and your baby.
Whether you’re a first time mother, or have young children already, each baby you bring into the world comes with its own unique set of challenges.
Breastfeeding – for mothers of every age – can be one of the most wonderful things a woman can ever experience but it can also be one of the most daunting. What if your baby doesn’t take to your breast straight away? Or what if you’re finding it more painful than you thought? Here are some guidelines if you’re struggling to get into a regular pattern with your baby, and some advice on how to make things easier for you and your child.
Get things off to a good start
Talk to someone before your baby arrives. Women who talk to their community nurse or local breastfeeding support group before they have their baby do better because they’ve already met the people they’re going to talk to if they encounter problems. Go along to breastfeeding meetings and get your information ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
The main reason breastfeeding can be hard is because of the birthing experience. Sue Jameson from the International Board of Lactation Consultants explains: “There’s no doubt that what happens to women around the time of birth can impact on their feeding experience. Keep talking to people around you, there should never be anyone struggling on their own. Relax and don’t panic, it takes a little time.”
According to a spokesperson for breastfeeding support group La Leche, you should insist on skin-to-skin contact as soon as your baby is born, unless there is a medical reason not to. “The bonding which occurs in the immediate hours post birth plays a vital role in establishing the breastfeeding connection between mother and baby, and encourages the baby's natural breastfeeding reflexes.”
Try not to always lean down to your baby when breastfeeding; this will only hurt your back and potentially cause nipple pain. Instead put a pillow behind you and bring the baby to the breast as opposed to the breast to the baby. This should be more comfortable for both you and your baby.
Drink plenty of water
Being dehydrated when you’re breastfeeding means your milk supply will suffer. You need to drink at least three litres of water a day to keep your milk supply regular.
Get help with latching on
Jameson explains: “If your baby is hurting you while he/she is breastfeeding, then they’re not latching on right. So get someone to check while you’re breastfeeding. Take them off your nipple and let them latch on again. There might be a bit of discomfort but it shouldn’t be painful.”
Watch your baby, not the clock
The spokesperson from La Leche says: “These days mothers are bombarded with information on how to settle a baby into a routine almost as soon as they are born. The best way to get breastfeeding well established is to follow your baby's cues and not place any expectations on yourself or the baby to conform to any schedule. Gradually you and your baby will find your unique rhythm.”
Give it your best shot
“If it’s not for you, there are other ways such as expressing your milk and feeding the baby that way. If the first experience hasn’t been everything you hoped for, you’ll know what to do the second time round and you’ll get it right,” says Jameson.
Know your baby is getting enough
According to Breastfeeding.ie, you will be able to see if your baby is getting enough milk by checking his or her nappies. What goes in must come out, they say. “If he/she is producing yellow nappies by day five, at least two or three a day, and having six wet nappies a day after the first week, then he/she is getting enough to eat.”
La Leche reminds mothers to treat themselves when they can. “Take the time while your baby is sleeping to take a warm bath to soothe your body, go for a walk, or meditate. If none of these things take your fancy, do the thing that always leaves you feeling energised.”
For more information on breastfeeding or to find your nearest support group, see the following websites:
Mother & Babies