Some time ago, I posted How To Get a Successful Start to Breastfeeding (Part 1). This is Part 2, with Part 3 to follow. To read Part 1 and the comments that followed, go here.
For the record, I have been breastfeeding for 66 months now. Does that make me a breastfeeding junkie? Some people think it’s weird. One friend asked me in a naughty way if I get a kick out of it! Especially when tandem nursing 2 kids. (You know who you are, that was sick, I love you still, and no, I don’t get kicks that way!)
Actually, I never planned on breastfeeding this long. I became a stay-home mum after the birth of Puppy, my first, and it became the easiest and most natural thing to do. There were challenges, though, especially when I first progressed to tandem nursing, but that’s for another post.
For now, here’s 7 more tips on how to start breastfeeding successfully. 20 tips altogether in this series, continuing where we left off.
7) Breastfeed properly. Learn breastfeeding techniques – how to recognise when your baby is hungry, the different ways of holding your baby to the breast, how to latch your baby on, how to unlatch him, etc. Breastfeeding comes easily to some women, but some others struggle – it doesn’t come as naturally as you might think! If necessary, get the help of a lactation consultant to check whether your baby is latching on properly. The majority of problems in breastfeeding stem from a poor latch, so enlisting help does pay off.
8) Breastfeed frequently. Feed on demand, not by the clock. This means not restricting your baby’s feeds to a certain time (not scheduling her feeds) and feeding her whenever she’s hungry. This will satisfy her suckling needs and increase your milk supply.
A one-day old baby doesn’t feed much, maybe only 5-6 times in 24 hours. But from the second day, your baby could feed about 1 ½ to 2 hourly, and feed about 10-12 times in 24 hours. Each feed can last anywhere from 20-40 minutes, or more. By then, you may have a very short time left before the next feed! It will seem like you’re constanstly feeding.
However, if your baby is continually on your breast for hours on end without wanting to unlatch, for what seems like the whole day, visit your lactation consultant to make sure her latch is ok. She may not be getting enough milk because of a poor latch, and you will soon develop sore nipples. You MUST have a good latch – Every. Single. Time.
9) Initiate breastfeeding when necessary. You shouldn’t watch the clock to restrict feeds, but do check if your baby is not feeding enough. In the early days, a baby is sometimes more sleepy than hungry. Strive to feed frequently as above. This will build up your milk supply to meet the demand as it grows. If your baby is sleeping past 2-3 hours from her last feed, wake her up to feed.
10) Believe in colostrum. Sometimes, well-meaning relatives may ask you to supplement with formula because they say, “Baby is crying, he isn’t getting enough!”
Well, in the initial days, the very little milk that you produce (colostrum) is more than enough for your baby. What is enough could be as little as one tablespoon. Be assured that your baby isn’t starving in the time before your milk fully comes in (usually between 3-5 days) and meanwhile, work on your nursing technique.
You and your baby have both a lot to learn about breastfeeding, so be patient while learning it. There may be a lot of trial and error before the demand-supply gets established. (On supplementing with formula, see Part 1.)
11) Build up a good breastmilk supply. To do this, feed frequently day and night, get sufficient rest, make sure you are eating well and drink plenty of fluids. If necessary, get domestic help, ask relatives or friends to help with meals, and limit visitors if you think you need the space and energy to focus on getting breastfeeding established.
When I was a newbie, I had to limit visitors to the hospital for a couple of days because it was so hard for me. It was difficult saying no to friends, but it gave me the rest that I needed.
Building up a good milk supply was easy after that. I followed the above simple steps, without needing anything like fenugreek or other traditional foods.
12) A good night-time feeding tip. In the first few months, feed every 2 hours from after 6.00 pm until 12 midnight. This will ensure that your baby’s tummy is kept full before you turn in for the night, so that he won’t be waking up so often in the wee hours.
Feed again at 2.00 am or 3.00 am (if your baby hasn’t yet awakened earlier to feed) and again at 5.00 am or 6.00 am. Two in-the-middle-of-the-night feeds is not considered too much for a young baby.
When Piglet was 2 days old, he nursed for almost 3 hours in the middle of the night and woke up again less than an hour later to nurse again. I was so tired, putting it mildly! Thankfully he gradually settled into a more predictable night time pattern soon after.
13) Give yourself time to understand your baby. Learn what are the signs of your baby having enough milk. Follow them to check that your baby is getting enough. This will assure you that you’re on the right track and give you confidence to continue breastfeeding exclusively.
Enjoy your baby, and happy breastfeeding!
Do you have any breastfeeding stories to share? How did you start breastfeeding? What worked best for you? What didn’t?