Long term breastfeeding rates in the UK are low with UNICEF 2005 figures indicating that just 2% of mothers continue to exclusively breastfeed at 6 months. UNICEF’s breastfeeding manifesto also indicates that “nine out of ten women who breastfeed would have liked to breastfeed for longer.” The tips below are a combination of advice from the NHS and also things I wish I had known as a new mother about to start breastfeeding.
1. Correct positioning
If the baby is not latched on to the breast correctly it can be agony for mum and frustrating for baby. Tips for helping with attachment include ensuring the baby’s nose is aligned with the nipple, making sure attachment is attempted when the baby’s mouth is wide open and ensuring the baby has their mouth right around the nipple. If it curls your toes, remove the baby from the breast and start again.
When I was about to leave the hospital after giving birth to my first child, the midwife gave me a leaflet about lansinoh; a treatment for sore and cracked nipples. It worked wonders. This product has recently won a Mother and Baby Gold Medal Award in the 2009-10 ‘Best Breastfeeding Product’ category. It was also nominated in our SheKnows 2010 Parent’s Choice Awards!
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Breastfeeding can be challenging at times and it’s very easy to feel like giving into well meaning comments such as “a bottle may make her settle better.” Resist the urge to give up and contact organisations such as La Leche League or the National Breastfeeding helpline (0300 100 0212) for assistance.
4. It gets easier
With a hungry newborn baby there are times when you may feel as if you are constantly breastfeeding. What no one tells you is that this is not permanent. For most mothers, this stage lasts for several weeks and gradually the period between feeds gets longer as breastfeeding becomes established.
High levels of stress and breastfeeding do not mix. Relaxation is important for the ‘let down’ process so to ‘let down’ put your feet up! As a friend once said to me, ” breastfeeding is natures way of making you sit down.”
6. Feed yourself
It can be easily forgotten when you are dealing with a newborn but it makes sense to ensure that you look after your own diet and drink enough water. Breastfeeding is thirsty work!
7. Supply and demand
Each time a mother breastfeeds her baby she produces more milk to replace what is lost. Equally, if a feed is missed because the baby has taken formula or a bottle of expressed milk, supply is reduced. If you intend to miss the occasional feed so you can have a break or so your partner wants to feed the baby; make sure you express at some point to replenish your milk supply.
8. Burp baby frequently
For a content baby, resist the urge to place baby immediately on the second breast and ensure that you burp baby in between breasts and after.
9. Feed on demand
Because breastfeeding is a supply and demand system, the best way to keep up milk supply levels is to breastfeed when your baby requires it. Trust your body and your baby.
10. Practice breastfeeding on the go
The key to being able to continue breastfeeding successfully is to ensure that life continues. Practice breastfeeding in places you feel comfortable and breastfeeding in public will soon be second nature.
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