Set yourself up beforehand for breastfeeding:
If you plan to breastfeed, preparing for it before you give birth can really help.
- Read up or attend a prenatal class focused on breastfeeding. This will help you understand the basics of breastfeeding, the common issues you might encounter and how to tackle them, and what kind of help/support is available to you (this could include lactation consultants/lactation counsellors, nurses at the hospital, your own doula).
- Speak to your medical care team and enlist their support. They can help you initiate breastfeeding right after birth and also provide guidance over the first few days while you are in the hospital. You could even prepare a breastfeeding plan or include it as an appendix to your birth plan. If you have a doula they could also guide you in this and help you prepare for breastfeeding.
- Enlist an ally and cheerleader: Breastfeeding can at times be challenging, lonely, boring, frustrating. Having the support of a loved one can make a significant difference. So ensure you include a breastfeeding cheerleader in your postnatal support team. Speak to your spouse or mom or sibling early on and let them know you are counting on their help. In fact this is one of the most significant support roles your spouse can play amongst all the other spouse/partner support they provide you in this time.
- Arm yourself with good accessories – a comfortable nursing chair, breastfeeding pillow, a nursing station where you can place a good book, some snacks and water, your earphones, a cozy throw, soothing nipple cream etc. If you plan to pump then invest in a hands-free pumping bra and a good electric pump. Check out some of the breastfeeding apps and download one that you find best suits your needs and can help you track feeding times, diaper changes and milk reserves by date.
Initiate breastfeeding as soon as you give birth
Know the breastfeeding basics
- The way you hold your baby and how they latch on to your breast can make a big difference in how comfortable and effective breastfeeding is and hugely boost your chances of successful breastfeeding. You should hold your baby “tummy to tummy” so that there is no space between your body and your baby. The baby’s neck needs to be supported and the head needs to be facing the breast. Point your nipple at their nose and wait for them to open their mouth wide before bringing them close to your breast. This will ensure they take a large mouthful of the breast and not just the nipple. You should feel a gentle tug on your breast when they suckle, not pain or pinching. Supporting your baby’s feet with your arm can make them feel more secure and aid them in nursing calmly. So when breastfeeding, you could ensure the sole of your baby’s feet are resting against your arm or a pillow.
- Know how much milk babies need. This changes quite rapidly from when they are newborns and as each day progresses. Knowing this will prevent the stress that new moms go through wondering if their baby is getting enough breastmilk.
- If you have multiples or a preemie then you will need even more specific guidance and information. Reach out to experts and ensure you get the information and advice that will help you progress with breastfeeding.
Here is a quick overview of the top 10 tips -
Breastfeed on demand
Room in or keep baby close
Until breastfeeding is firmly established, avoid dummies and bottle feeding
Breastfeed exclusively for first 6 months
Don’t neglect yourself
- Breastfeeding is a calorie intensive activity and can be demanding. Remember your body is in recovery having already gone through 9 months of pregnancy and then the rigours of birthing. Ensure you get the nutrition your body needs. Eat balanced meals, keep healthy snacks handy and keep hydrated. If you have been prescribed supplements then remember to take them. If you see a doctor for medical reasons remember to mention that you are breastfeeding so that they can take that into account if they prescribe medication.
- Ensure you get the rest you need. Take breaks away from the new demands on your time and attention – go outdoors, take a long bath, meet a friend for a catch up, start some light exercises once your doctor greenlights it. If you are showing symptoms of postnatal depression or feel you need help, do not hesitate to get professional advice. Your mental health can affect your milk supply.
- Avoid stressing the small matters – delegate and simplify all that you can and simply ignore the non-essential. Often new moms spend a lot of time and mental energy stressing over things that can be delegated, simplified or simply ignored. For e.g. if you are pumping and feeding in the night, the night feed could be your spouse’s time to bond with the baby while you get some precious sleep.
Seek advice from breastfeeding counsellors or peers
Seek help from a lactation consultant, or peer counsellor if you need it. They can offer you advice, support and solutions to any problems you may have. If you are experiencing pain every time you nurse, get help. Don’t ignore your gut, even if your mother or friend says it is normal but if you feel something’s not right then seek professional advice. The earlier you reach for help and advice the easier and lighter the whole journey will be.
Above all, be patient with yourself
The amount of milk your baby needs depends on their age and weight. You can use this formula to estimate how much milk your baby needs per day:
- A newborn needs 60 ml per kg per day
- A baby less than 1-month-old needs 180 ml per kg per day
- A 1 – 3 months old baby needs 150 ml per kg per day
- A 3 – 6 months old baby needs 120 ml per kg per day
- A 6 – 9 months old baby needs 100 ml per kg per day
Here are some signs that can help you tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk.
- They have at least 5 wet disposable nappies (or 6 – 8 cloth nappies) and at least 3 bowel motions every 24 hours
- They gain weight steadily after the first week
- They seem satisfied after most feeds (as opposed to fussy and showing the signs of being hungry)
Breasts are constantly producing milk so are never really empty. They can at times feel soft and drained after a feeding or pumping session. It will take them only about 30 mins to feel full again. But you don’t need to wait to feed again. Do so whenever your baby shows signs of hunger. The more you breastfeed, the more milk your breasts will produce. At Veira we offer 1-on-1 breastfeeding support tailored to your situation/need. Our coaches certified lactation counsellors available for consults online and on-demand. They can help you as you establish and continue breastfeeding. If you have questions or are struggling with breastfeeding issues, register and book a call with your Veira Coach for caring and reliable breastfeeding support and professional advice.