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4 Tips For Easier Breastfeeding

Mother breast feeding her infant

The data is in. Aside from all the obvious bonding benefits for you and baby, breastfeeding
lowers your little one’s risk of1:

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Infections
  • Obesity
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Childhood leukaemia
  • Adult cardiovascular disease

Breastfeeding also has a multitude of benefits for mum. In fact breastfeeding reduces your risk of2:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity (actually breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day)
  • Osteoporosis

Put simply, breast milk is tailor-made for your baby and has health benefits for mum.

Despite all this, here in the UK we have one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world3 – indeed only 17% of babies are being breastfed exclusively at 3 months. Why?

We know it’s not because women here don’t want to breastfeed – in fact around 73% of UK women begin breastfeeding 4. There can be various factors at play, including a lack of support and information, cultural influences, going back to work and pressure to impose a sleep routine on babies that disrupts breastmilk generation 5.

Although natural, for many women, it’s not all plain-sailing; if it is your first baby, you are both learning a new skill! Breastfeeding may be at first tricky, daunting, and uncomfortable.

Perhaps your baby doesn’t latch on, or perhaps they do and it hurts or feeding takes forever.

Perhaps you’re bleeding and sore and ready to give up.

Before you do, here are a few pointers that might help you get through it.

Don’t Panic

You’re tired enough as it is. There’s also lots of evidence that the hormones you release at this time are wired to make you worry 6 – it’s Mother Nature’s way of helping us protect our babies, after all! So remember this when your mind is racing and you’re trying to help your baby latch on again. Take a deep breath, make sure you are in a comfortable position, bring the baby to you and wait till they gape wide before helping them to a big mouthful of breast.

If your baby is just sucking your nipple, you should use your little finger to open their mouth and encourage them to latch on again, taking a bigger mouthful of breast. You are both beginners, so remember that you will be getting plenty of practice and it should get easier.

Feed Regularly From The Very Beginning And Don’t Get Too Hung Up On Routine Too Quickly

If you’re off work and able to sleep when your baby sleeps, ignore the pressure to ‘establish a routine’. Remember your baby has been napping regularly in your womb as you move around with a constant supply of nutrition – your baby has not read the books and it is a tall order to expect a tiny baby (whose stomachs are very small) to go for several hours without feeding!

Louisa ven den bergh lulubaby 4 tips for easier breastfeeding Remember breastmilk is your baby’s food and drink so if the weather is hot, they will need more feeds. Getting breastfeeding off the ground means you’ll need to do it very regularly, in order to produce enough milk. Louisa van den Bergh, Founder of Lulubaby and Breastfeeding Consultant explains that, a newborn will need at least 8 -10 feeds over a 24 hour period which means regular feeding at night. We also know that prolactin, the milk making hormone is highest at night so feeding during the night will help to establish a good supply.

“Newborn babies can be very sleepy, especially if they are jaundiced so try and encourage them to stay awake and feed effectively so they are getting a good tummy full and you can both have a bit of a break before the next feed,” says Louisa van den Bergh of Lulubaby.

Ask For Help If It Hurts

“Breastfeeding may at first feel a little uncomfortable (as you both get used to it) but if pain persists, your baby may not be positioned or latched on properly,” explains Louisa.

“The sooner you get help, the better; Ask your health visitor or midwife to watch you breastfeed so that any problems can be identified. If possible, consult a breastfeeding expert – sometimes just a small adjustment can make all the difference – breastfeeding can go from pain to pleasure in an instant. The body produces oxcytocin as you feed which is the “feel good” hormone so when it is working well, it is a wonderful feeling.”

If You Need To Supplement In The Short Term, Don’t Feel Bad About It

If you or your baby are struggling to get the hang of it and you are worried your baby isn’t getting enough milk, it’s understandable that you’ll fear supplementing in case your milk supply goes down.

Louisa advises: “If your baby is hungry, she must be fed. If breastfeeding is really not going well, first try expressing your own milk into a bottle but don’t be afraid to supplement with formula if all else fails. It is really important your baby does not get dehydrated. If you do supplement with formula, be sure to express yourself so that you maintain your milk supply and in the meantime seek some professional help.”

As Louisa told us: “Breastfeeding can be like learning to dance. You may step on each other’s toes at first but with plenty of practice and sometimes the help of an expert, you will soon be dancing together beautifully.”

Golden rule – if in doubt, reach out to an expert – it can make all the difference. Good luck!

We’d like to say a special thank you to Louisa Van Den Bergh from Lulubaby for her help with this article.

REFERENCES

 [1] http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and- baby/Pages/benefits-breastfeeding.aspx
 [2] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/sep/09/low-uk-breastfeeding-rates-down-to-social-pressures-over-routine-and-sleep
 [3] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/sep/09/low-uk-breastfeeding-rates-down-to-social-pressures-over-routine-and-sleep
 [4] http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/benefits-breastfeeding.aspx
 [5] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/sep/09/low-uk-breastfeeding-rates- down-to-social-pressures-over-routine-and-sleep
 [6] https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/what-happens-to-a-womans-brain-when-she-becomes-a-mother/384179/

Recommended Video: Breastfeeding With Midwife Catriona Muir.

 

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