Congratulations, your bub has finally arrived.
We’d love to tell you that it’s all going to be smooth sailing from here, but as you well know, your little bundle of joy is going to present you with a lot of surprises and challenges along the way, and breastfeeding is just one of them.
While breastfeeding is considered the natural way to feed your baby, it doesn’t always come naturally to every mum, so it’s important you don’t feel disheartened or discouraged if it takes a while for you to get into the swing of things. It’s definitely a skill and like anything, practice makes perfect.
Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby, with all the nutrition he or she needs during their first 6 months. It’s at the right temperature and the process of breastfeeding helps create a beautiful loving bond between you and your new bub.
While you’ve probably heard about the many health benefits it has for baby, it may surprise you to learn that breastfeeding is also good for you.
Good for baby:
Good for Mum:
- helps lessen recovery time after birth
- helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size
- benefits your health by reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis
We’ve put together our best breastfeeding tips to help you and bub enjoy this very special time.
1. Become a breastfeeding boss
Attend a local breastfeeding class either in person or online. The Australian Breastfeeding Associationiv offers an interactive 1.5 hour webinar session where you can chat with other parents as you learn and practice breastfeeding techniques. You can even join a Q&A with a breastfeeding mother. Or look online for locations near you where breastfeeding classes are available.
2. Fuel your body with healthy food
Remember, you really are eating for two, especially while you’re breastfeeding! Your body is working overtime to make breast milk full of nutrients for your baby, so eating a wide variety of healthy foods from the five main food groups every day is vital. In case you need additional support, Natalis can assists with 19 key nutrients.
3. Your first feed
Now it’s time for you and baby to get comfortable. When you first start to feed, you may want to ask your midwife to help you position your baby correctly on the breast. Skin to skin contact between you and bub is an important way to encourage early connection and bonding, so ideally baby’s tummy should be facing your tummy. Make sure your back and feet are well supported, and feel free to use a pillow to support your baby if you need to. Remember, there are no hard and fast rules so if you find a position that’s comfortable, delivers milk to your baby and is pain-free, enjoy it!
4. The key to ‘latching’ on
Getting your baby to correctly latch onto your breast is essential, as this means the milk can be delivered easily and you’ll be able to breastfeed without getting sore nipples.
Your baby should have all of your nipple and most of the areola in its mouth so that his or her gums are well behind the base of your nipple. Bub’s nose and chin should be gently pressed against your breast and most importantly, the sucking shouldn’t hurt.
If you’re having trouble with latching on, try gently stroking your baby’s mouth with the underside of your areola. This should encourage your baby to open their mouth and latch on. If your baby’s mouth is following a sucking and swallowing pattern and it feels comfortable for you, well done, you’ve got it!
5. Thanks Mum… how baby gets a good feed
Your baby should start with some fairly quick, shallow sucks, and once your milk starts flowing, the sucks should become slower, deeper and more rhythmic.
Most mothers find that they need to use both breasts, but as long as your baby is sucking properly, try and keep him or her on the first breast for as long as you can.
If you feel your baby is still hungry, feed on the second breast until full.
6. Zzzz… is baby full?
How long your baby feeds can vary from as little as 10 minutes to as much as an hour or more – this will depend on how fast your milk flows and how strongly your baby sucks. When the sucking slows or bub starts falling asleep, he or she is telling you they’re full (for now!) Take the little one off the breast, wind them and if they’re
fully fed, they should fall asleep.
7. What your breastfeeding baby is telling you
If your baby settles well after feeds, he or she is telling you that they are feeding well and getting enough milk. This peaceful period should generally last 3-4 hours before bub is hungry and cries to be fed again. If baby is giving you at least six wet nappies a day and gaining the right amount of weight, you’re making great progress.
If bub falls asleep at the breast but then wakes and cries when you try to settle; if the nappy is dry or the urine concentrated and smelly and/or if weight gain is poor, these are all signs that he or she is not feeding well.
Don’t panic. Try expressing your milk with a pump to check your milk supply.
Check your breastfeeding position with your midwife or health care professional. And never be afraid to seek help or ask questions if you are struggling or have any concerns at all.
8. Go easy on yourself
Any amount of breastfeeding you can give your baby is beneficial, even if it’s only for a short time, but it’s not a must if your body can’t provide it.
It’s important to realise that we’re all different, so if breastfeeding isn’t working for you, or your body can’t produce breastmilk, please don’t worry or think there’s anything wrong with you. There are plenty of other ways to nourish your little one.
i Breastfeeding your baby (Pregnancy, birth and baby)
ii Breastfeeding your baby (Pregnancy, birth and baby)
iii Breast milk and Breastfeeding: benefits (Raising children)
iv Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom (HealthyChildren.org)
v Breastfeeding diet, exercise & lifestyle (Raising Children Network)
vi Breastfeeding your baby | Pregnancy Birth and Baby (pregnancybirthbaby.org.au)