The early days of breastfeeding can often feel overwhelming. You want to do the best for your baby, but it can be difficult to work your way through the mountain of information that is presented to new mums. This simple guide outlines some of the most important breastfeeding dos and don’ts to help get you off to a good start. Read on to find out about breastfeeding dos and don’ts.
The more often you breastfeed your baby, the more milk you will produce. The best way to build your supply is to breastfeed on demand — usually every two hours or less for the average newborn. This may seem very frequent, but remember that it only takes around 90 minutes for babies to digest human milk. The time between feeds will soon lengthen as your baby grows. The best way to tell if your baby is hungry is by looking out for common signs, such as rooting or hand and finger sucking.
Allow baby to finish the breast
It’s a good idea to allow your baby to finish feeding from one breast before switching to the other. This will ensure that he gets plenty of calories-rich hindmilk that will help him to feel fuller for longer. Wait until he has come off of the breast naturally and then take the opportunity to burp him before offering the other side.
Cut down on caffeine
While most breastfeeding mothers can drink beverages containing caffeine in moderation, some babies are more sensitive to it than others, especially those under 6 months. If you are drinking more than five cups of coffee per day it is likely that your baby will be affected by the level of caffeine in your milk.
Signs that your baby may be receiving too much caffeine through your milk include excessive fussing, difficulty sleeping for long periods, or ‘wide-eyed’ alertness. If you think your baby might be being affected by your caffeine intake, try cutting back or avoiding products that contain caffeine [coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks] for 2-3 weeks and watch your baby’s behaviour for signs of improvement.
If you are used to drinking high amounts of caffeine, remember to cut back slowly to avoid unpleasant side effects , such as headaches.
Don’t use soap on your breasts
Those small bumps on your areola produce a natural lubricating oil to aid breastfeeding. Using soap or body wash on your breasts strips this oil away, so it is preferable to gently rinse this area with plain, warm water only.
Don’t panic about your diet
It is recommended that all breastfeeding mothers should eat a well-balanced diet, including fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain brains or cereals, and calcium and protein rich foods. However, even if you have a less than perfect diet you will still produce good quality milk for your baby. Only chronically undernourished mothers need to seriously consider improving their diet or taking a vitamin supplement in order to avoid deficiencies.
Don’t have more than two alcoholic drinks per day
It is advised that breastfeeding mothers should consume a maximum of two units of alcohol each day. Excessive amounts of alcohol in breast milk can cause disruptions to a baby’s sleep pattern, decrease growth and motor skills development, and lead to slow weight gain.
Alcohol can also inhibit your milk let-down reflex and reduce your milk supply. After drinking alcohol, many experts agree that it is best to wait 2-3 hours before breastfeeding. If you are planning a big night out, plan ahead by expressing enough milk to feed your baby until you no longer feel ‘tipsy’. Expressing milk will not eliminate alcohol from your milk, but it may help you to feel more comfortable. Aim to pump as often as you would usually feed your baby to avoid becoming engorged.