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Seven Ways to Make Breastfeeding Easier


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09/11/2017

Our best tips

Our other articles this week have been full of great tips to successful breastfeeding. Along with preparing beforehand, choosing a breastfeeding-friendly place to birth and taking your cue from your baby, these are our next best tips to a positive breastfeeding experience:

Create a ‘Breastfeeding Oasis’

Treat yourself to a supportive nursing bra (or two), breast pads and t-shirts with easy access for breastfeeding. Also have some heat/cool packs on standby at home. These are very handy if your breasts ever feel engorged, painful or you have signs of blockage or inflammation. Some mums find it helpful to have a breastfeeding pillow, a breast milk pump and breast milk storage bags on hand. These can also be purchased later on if you find a need for them.

Create a warm, cosy and inviting breastfeeding space at home where you will spend many hours in the first few weeks. Soft light, relaxing music and a comfy (rocking) chair or sofa all help. You may also wish to have some pillows to help support you or even a small stool or cushion to prop your feet up on. Naturally, when you're feeling relaxed and comfortable then your baby will too. A peaceful state also helps you produce the right hormones and your milk let-down reflex (the physical reaction that makes breastmilk flow) will be faster and easier.

Your Baby Belongs by Your Side

Ideally, your baby should not be separated from you once he/she is born unless medically necessary. Most medical procedures can be done while your baby is skin-to-skin on your tummy. Once born, he or she can go straight onto your chest. Skin-to-skin contact with your baby after birth triggers a range of innate responses in your newborn.

Most babies will start searching and latching for the first breastfeed within their first hour. Give your baby this time and chance to use their instincts to find your breast and to self-attach. You will be amazed just how clever your little one is!

If your baby is not attaching initially, you may help a little bit by guiding him/her to your breast. Your midwife or lactation consultant can help guide you or even demonstrate how to attach your baby on a doll. If you are in a hospital, choose to “room in”. That way, your baby is with you 24 hours a day unless medically indicated. Again, this supports you and your baby’s natural hormonal “orchestra” and is very important in establishing a successful breastfeeding journey.

Correct Attachment & Positioning are the Keys

Many breastfeeding challenges are caused by incorrect attachment and/or positioning of the baby. Correct attachment and positioning is the key to avoiding nipple damage (and subsequent cascading effects) and ensuring baby is getting enough milk. Do your best to establish the right latch from the first feed onwards. There are lots of great resources on the web about correct latching technique. You may wish to watch a few videos before your baby is born.

For the first six weeks try to breastfeed without introducing bottles or dummies. If you do need to express your milk to feed your baby, finger or cup feeding could be an alternative and won’t lead to "suck confusion". Ask your midwife or lactation consultant for more details.

Practice Makes Perfect

Breastfeeding is a natural process that sometimes requires experimentation and patience from both mum and baby. Few mums get it right straight away and no one is perfect. With a little practice, you will both get the hang of it and be richly rewarded for your efforts!

Need Help? Then Ask For It!

If you are experiencing breastfeeding difficulties, have unanswered questions or are feeling frustrated – ask for help! You don’t need to wait until things get worse. Particularly if your baby isn’t gaining weight or you are experiencing discomfort, pain or nipple trauma. There are many people who can work alongside you to help solve these problems.

Out & About in Public

Although it’s the most natural way of feeding a baby, some mums dread the moment they have to feed their baby in public. It may help to prepare yourself by practising at home before you head out. Sit in front of a mirror and watch yourself feeding your baby – you'll realise that your baby's head will cover most of your breast with just a little skin visible. If you are uncomfortable with this, you may choose to use a baby blanket or nursing cover, or you may be quite relaxed with your t-shirt covering your breast. Remain confident in the fact that breastfeeding is the most natural way of feeding a baby. Again, if you can stay relaxed, chances are your baby will too.

Get Enough Rest and Look After Yourself

When your baby is born he/she can’t distinguish between day and night. A circadian rhythm will emerge when your baby is about 2-3 months old. Until then, try to ’go with the flow’ and sleep when your baby is sleeping - even if that’s during the day. Eat a healthy balanced diet and drink plenty of water, and take your supplements if recommended by your health professional.

Make sure your partner is involved too. Their support will help your recovery and deepen their own bonding experience with the baby. They can be involved with changing nappies, waking up for feeds, bathing and gently rocking your baby to sleep.

Get help from your family and friends with the household and allow them to pamper you! Your focus should be on recovering from birth, breastfeeding and getting to know your beautiful baby. Remember to enjoy and celebrate the many wonderful moments that breastfeeding will bring.

Trust Your Instincts: Mum Knows Best

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