Expert advice for breastfeeding

This is byVicki Scott, midwife. Owner of New Baby Company-courses, classes and consultations for pregnancy, birth and beyond.

On average your newborn may feed every 2-4 hours, ‘little & often’; as your baby grows/ she should need to feed less frequently and can take more milk each feed time.”

“If breasts are hard and painful when your milk comes in, try popping a green cabbage leaf from the fridge in your bra after feeds.   Warmth and massage before feeds will help soften the breasts and encourage milk flow.”

“Encourage baby to have a wide open mouth for latching-on by starting off in the nose-to-nipple position.  When she opens her mouth wide, bring her quickly to the breast aiming the nipple to the roof of your baby’s mouth.”

“Once your milk has come in, encourage your baby to feed fully from the first breast at each feed.  This way, he will get the thirst quenching foremilk and the richer hindmilk each time.”

“Most babies need to be winded during and after feeds.  Hold your baby in an upright position on your knee or over your shoulder – giving her gentle pats until she burps!”

“Your baby is likely to be getting enough milk if he settles well after feeds, wakes to feed regularly, has runny stools, lots of wet nappies and gains weights steadily.”

“When offering a bottle, encourage your baby to open his mouth wide by touching the teat of the bottle to his lower lip.  As he opens his mouth, gently introduce the teat making sure your baby’s tongue is down.”

“Breastfeeding works on supply and demand – offering your baby regular breastfeeds when she’s hungry ensures your milk supply will grow to match your baby’s needs.  The more your baby feeds, the more milk you will make for her.”

“Make time for your baby’s bottle – get comfortable and spend some close time with your baby during and after the feed.”

After your baby is born, you enter a whole new world which completely centres around the new arrival-at first anyway! The first few weeks are a special time when you get to know one another and adapt to your new life as a family.

What’s important in the early weeks is that your baby learns to feed well, settle & sleep well , be kept warm & dry and feels secure and loved. As new parents this involves a lot of new responsibilities and babies don’t come with instructions! Your maternal (and paternal) instincts will kick in more than you will expect, but it’s great to have some guidance through those early weeks and months, and something to help you keep a track of your babies milestones and progress.

In the early days and weeks it can be handy to jot down your baby’s feeds, wet and dirty nappies and sleeps. This provides your midwife or Health Visitor with information she can use to help advise you.

A little later, keeping a detailed record of your baby’s day can help you see patterns emerging in terms of feeds and naptimes which can be helpful when you are trying to plan activities and get out & about more with your baby.

Those early days can be quite hectic at times, and often unpredictable, that’s the nature of babies! Looking back on the ‘story’ of your baby’s first few months certainly shows you how far you’ve come as your baby gets older-and second time parents often tell me they were fascinated to look back on their first baby’s diary when number 2 arrives!

Your baby’s feeding routine

I’m often asked what a baby’s routine should be, or why a baby needs one. Use the word ‘routine’ and ‘baby’ in the same sentence and the assumption is often made that the routine is a negative thing, working against the baby’s natural cycles and needs, and that the routine is more for the parents than the baby. In my mind this couldn’t be further from the truth-a routine to me is a way to get a baby organised into a regular cycle of feeding and sleeping which works with his natural cycles, respecting his need for regular feeds and sleeps. It should never involve making a hungry baby wait for his feed or leaving him to cry when very young.

Babies vary in how long they take to feed, and how far the gaps are between feeds. As a mum, you’ll soon get to know your baby’s ways and preferences and your feeding relationship and routine will develop. A baby’s digestive system works better and becomes more settled if he is encouraged to take full feeds rather than snacks-resulting in less wind and colic. His system has a chance to digest one meal before starting another.

At the very least, a routine is whatever works for you and your baby that you are happy with and that makes you feel confident in your new role.

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