Breastfeeding your newborn - some tips for first time mums

It’s National Breastfeeding Week and so we thought it would be timely to write a blog post on breastfeeding your newborn in those all important early days. For me, the main benefit to breastfeeding your baby ( from a mum’s perspective) is you always come prepared! What I mean by this of course, is you do not have to worry about preparing a formula feed and making up bottles, you have all the equipment you need right on you ( literally!) And there is no better place to start than in the delivery room itself. 

Of course, it is not always possible for mums to be able to do this straightaway, for example, if you have had a c-section, you might need a little longer to recover after the birth than if you have a vaginal delivery. Or if you your baby was born premature. If this is the case, make sure to tell the midwife you want to breastfeed and use a pump to express your milk.

Top tip! It is a good idea to find out as much as possible about breastfeeding before the birth and you should include in your birth plan, whether or not you would like to breastfeed or not. If you do not want your baby to be given formula, make sure you make this clear too.

Benefits of breastfeeding straight after birth

It promotes bonding between mum and child as both of you will benefit from that skin to skin contact.

It gets things going! Breastfeeding your baby straightaway, will provide the stimulation needed to start the milk flowing.

It helps your uterus to contract.

It provides your newborn with colostrum, which helps boost their immune system.

It helps you take advantage of the fact a newborns sucking reflex is actually at it strongest for a few hours after birth.

Do not panic if your baby does not seem to be able to find or stay on your nipple in this very early stage. Perseverance and patience are the two main cornerstones of successful breastfeeding. You can encourage your baby to find the nipple by gently touching her upper lip with your nipple and once her mouth has opened pull her on to your breast, ensuring the mouth covers the areola. Don’t worry your baby’s tummy is really tiny at this stage and she doesn’t need much colostrum to fill her up. Try and relax and enjoy the closeness you are experiencing together.

Top tips to help you breastfeed your newborn 

Relax - you have already come pre-prepared! All mums make colostrum, your baby only needs a teeny amount at first ( about as much as a teaspoon!) so don’t start worrying about supply and demand at this stage!

Feed as often as your baby wants to be fed. The very act of feeding itself, will stimulate your milk flow. So the more your feed, the more milk you will produce. Every baby is different and some will want feeding more often than others. On average a newborn is fed between 8-12 times within a 24 hour period. It might be your baby is sleepy and she will need to be woken gently to feed ( my daughter for example, was slightly jaundiced and need to be woken to feed) or your little one might fall asleep during feeding. Again, do not worry, just be patient. Your breasts will start to produce milk approximately 2-4 days after you have given birth. You will produce creamier milk as time goes on. Resist topping up your baby’s feed with formula, as this can actually have an adverse affect on your milk supply- remember the more you feed the more milk your body will produce. 

Go with the flow! At first you might feel all you are doing is feeding! This can be hard on some mums, but try not to rush or worry as eventually your baby will settle down into a routine, as your milk becomes more filling and satisfying.

Don’t worry if you feel your nipples tingle when your baby sucks. This is called the let down reflex. Equally, don’t worry if they don’t tingle! Mums are different to each other too!

Springing a leak?! Breast pads are a good idea as they can stop your clothes from getting wet. A bib or burp cloth, are always useful at mopping up too!

Don’t stress about whether you are producing enough milk. Boobs are not bottles- so of course we can’t physically see how much milk is in them, but try and relax in the knowledge your breasts are up for the job! A good indication of whether your baby is getting enough milk is by the number of wet and soiled nappies they produce each day. 

It can feel a little uncomfortable and sore when you first few minutes of feeding your baby, but this should pass. If does not and continues to feel sore or painful then you might need to try latching your baby on again This nipple soreness might happen over the first few days of feeding, but again, it should stop altogether after that point.

Drink lots of fluids as breast feeding makes you thirsty! Eat a healthy diet and rest up, above all enjoy this special time with your baby. 

Seek advice and help if you need it. There are many organisations, such as the NCT who can provide much needed support to new breastfeeding mums.

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