A common concern among pregnant women is breastfeeding. Many women worry if they are going to be able or comfortable to breastfeed their infant and others just want to know how it all works.
It’s important to remember, that breastfeeding is not for everyone and it’s entirely your choice whether or not you choose breast or bottle.
If you want to give breastfeeding a go, keep reading.
Find out as much information as you can.
Congratulations, you’re reading this article and that means you’re on the right track. Knowledge is definitely power when it comes to breastfeeding, so make sure you absorb as much information as you can before the arrival of your baby.
Knowing how it all works and how you can tackle problems will make you feel a lot more confident when the time comes.
Search for some local antenatal classes. These usually cover the basics of feeding, from attachment to positioning and even expressing. The leader of the class will also be able to show you how to tackle common problems.
The NHS have their own search engine where you can find antenatal classes and services near you.
Another valuable information source is your midwife. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions, even if they seem a little silly. If you know any family members or close friends who wouldn’t mind sharing their experiences, get in touch and discuss it over a cup of coffee.
Of course, there are also many useful blogs, websites and magazines out there.
Bond with your baby.
The first few days spent with your baby is an important and emotional time for many reasons. One being that when you hold your baby close to you and have skin-to-skin contact, you will form a strong bond with your newborn. This also helps them to keep warm and steadies their breathing.
Because it the experience is so special, it’s the perfect time to try breastfeeding.
Don’t worry if your skin-to-skin contact is delayed for any reason, such as your newborn having to spend time in special care, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to create this bond. A midwife will be able to show you how to express your breast milk until your baby is ready to feed from you.
What to expect from your first few days of breastfeeding.
The first milk that you will produce is usually a golden yellow colour. This fluid, called colostrum, is a very concentrated version of usual breast milk. This means that your baby will only need a teaspoon full during each feed.
To begin with, your newborn will want feeding every hour. Gradually, after a few days, they will require more milk, less frequently and your body will respond by producing ‘mature’ milk.
What to expect from your first let-down.
A let-down reflex occurs when your baby sucks your breast, causing stored milk to be squeezed down your ducts towards your nipples.
It can be quite a strange sensation; some women experience a slight tingling feeling, which can be quite strong. Meanwhile, other women don’t feel anything.
Once the fluid is let down, your baby will respond by changing from quick sucks to deep rhythmic swallows. Some babies will pause after the first initial sucks to wait for the milk to be let down.
If your baby coughs and splutters, it means that the reflex was a little too strong and more milk was released that what was required. In this case, you midwife or health visitor can show you what to do.
You may also notice the let-down reflex when your baby cries or when you take a warm bath.
How often will I have to feed my baby?
Like with everything, it varies from baby to baby. On average, your baby will feed at least 8 times or more every 24 hours during the first few weeks.
It’s great to get to know the signs of a hungry baby. They may start to become restless, suck their fist or fingers, make sounds or turn their head and open their mouth. Once you notice any of these signs, try feeding them. It’s difficult to feed a crying, hungry baby.
Don’t worry about overfeeding your newborn if you’re breastfeeding. It’s impossible to overfeed from the breast. This is because if the do not need the nourishment or comfort, they will not latch on.
You can feed your baby for as often and as long as they want. This may result in you feeling like you’re doing nothing but feeding, but, eventually, your baby will settle into a regular pattern.
Will I ever run out of milk?
It’s a common question, even though it may feel silly asking. As your milk production is stimulated by your baby sucking, it’s very unlikely that you will run out of milk.
The more you breastfeed, the more milk you will produce. And after every feed, your body will know to make more milk in time for the next one.
When will my milk ‘come in’?
After two to four days, your breasts will become a lot fuller and warmer. This will vary depending on what your baby needs.
What if I produce too much milk?
One option is to offer your baby another feed. As we have previously mentioned, you cant overfeed when you’re breastfeeding. Your baby will either take it or leave it, depending on their needs.
Another option is to start expressing some milk. Your midwife/health visitor will be able to help you out if you feel like you’re producing too much milk.
If this is the case, your breast milk can leak from your nipples. You can stop this by pressing the palm of your hand gently but firmly on your breast.
In the meantime, breast pads will stop milk leaking onto your clothes. Just remember to regularly change them to prevent infection and soreness.
If you have any breastfeeding tips and advice, let us know in the comments below or Tweet us @KidTransit.