Breastfeeding Your Baby
How it's done, positioning and attachment, one side or tw, how to express and more
the best food and drink for your baby, always high in quality
and adapting perfectly to your baby's needs. Although
breastfeeding is 'natural', it helps if your partner, friends
and family support and encourage you in your choice.
Health benefits of breastfeeding
to you and your baby
Breastmilk has a special value for pre-term babies who are vulnerable to some very dangerous conditions and infections. Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of:
You can help to get breastfeeding off to a good start by holding your baby in skin to skin contact after the birth. This helps to calm your baby and regulate his breathing and heart rate. He will enjoy your warmth and closeness, smell and taste. It also stimulates your breastfeeding hormones and encourages your baby to seek your breast for his first breastfeed.
Some mothers prefer just to hold their baby close and see whether he decides to 'help himself'. Although breastfeeding within the first hour after birth is recommended, not all babies are ready for this, for instance, because his natural feeding instincts have been affected by receiving some of your pain-relieving drugs while you were in labour. If this happens just go through the skin to skin contact and first feed when you are both ready a little later on.
This first meeting can be a deeply moving experience, a time to speak softly, stroke your baby and get to know him. However some mothers can feel exhausted and overwhelmed and may wish to delay the experience till they feel ready for it.
Positioning and attachment:
Holding your baby in the
correct position and helping him to latch onto your breast are
important for effective and pain-free breastfeeding. Your
midwife will offer to help you to get these right in the early
days. When you and your baby are learning, these points may
Hold your baby so that:
Then when your baby opens his
mouth wide, with his tongue down, bring him quickly onto your
breast. If he is well attached you might notice that:
If breastfeeding hurts or is not going well it is worthwhile asking your midwife or health visitor to watch whilst you feed to see if your positioning and attachment are right.
Babies can vary in how long and often they breastfeed. Letting your baby feed as often, and for as long as he needs to, will help to ensure enough milk is made and that he has enough time to have a satisfying feed. In the early weeks this may be as often as 6 to 12 feeds in 24 hours.
Changes in the early
days and weeks.
The chart below depicting the approximate color of your baby's stool should be used a guide only.
Your milk 'comes in' around the 2nd to 5th day depending on your circumstances. As your baby starts to feed at the breast he gets thirst quenching foremilk which changes gradually, as the let-down reflex works, to calorie rich and satisfying hindmilk. (You make only one kind of milk - it is just that the fat cells cling to the storage cells in the breast until the let-down reflex works). Your baby needs both fore and hindmilk so it is important to let your baby come off the breast naturally when he has finished feeding. Taking your baby off the breast before he is ready may mean he has a less satisfying feed than if he is left to decide for himself when he is finished feeding.
One Side or Two?
Here's how to
Expressed breastmilk can be stored in a fridge at 2-4 degrees centigrade for 8 days and in the deep freezer for 3 to 6 months. Milk should be frozen in small quantities - ice-cube trays are suitable - to make defrosting easier and to enable you to vary the amounts you defrost more easily. Wash your hands before expressing and sterilise any containers you use.