If you plan to breastfeed, images of long lazy feeds and lots of cuddles probably feature quite heavily in your pre-baby imagination.
So it is quite disheartening,very disappointing and frankly rude when breastfeeding doesn’t start as seamlessly as one would expect – not to mention incredibly sore.
If you are currently struggling to get breastfeeding going, here are some practical tips from breastfeeding specialist Geraldine Miskin.
Remember that breastfeeding is a partnership
Far too often mums blame themselves for the breastfeeding problems they are experiencing when the guilty party is actually your totally gorgeous, butter wouldn’t melt, innocent looking bundle.
A comfortable latch and efficient feed is mostly down to what your baby does or doesn’t do at the breast, so if you are convinced that you are supporting, positioning and latching your baby well but are still sore, it’s time to take a closer look at your little one.
You have individual roles
Babies breastfeed and mums make milk. If your baby isn’t able to breastfeed well, chances are that your supply will drop too. However, if you have a medical condition such as diabetes, even the most efficient little feeder may struggle to boost your supply. So it is important that you recognise your individual roles then find and resolve the root of your problem. This will hopefully give you quick and sustainable results.
Pinpoint any problems, correctly
More often than not, you (the mum) know or at least have an inkling to what the problem is but you don’t know the ins and outs of breastfeeding well enough to put your finger on it. This is a great example of ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ because if you speak to the right person, your insight will help the professional find a resolution in half the time.
If you don’t feel heard, find some one who will listen to you, as you at the end of the day are your baby’s expert.
Struggling is not failing; it’s simply taking the scenic route
Some babies find that breastfeeding comes naturally, whilst other babies are tight and possibly sore after birth and need time to learn how to coordinate latching, suckling and swallowing.
Thankfully all babies are heading for the same destination (established easy breast feeds) but some take the motorway and others the scenic route. You are the passenger and can give directions but ultimately, your baby is in the driving seat. At times this can make for an exciting, hair raising, knuckle biting journey but it will be worth it in the end.
Wind, wind, wind and wind again
It may seem just a bit too simple but winding effectively has such an incredibly positive influence on breastfeeding outcomes that it is vital for all mums to be encouraged to get winding.
Keep your baby’s back nice and straight, move baby around to dislodge wind or try my Magic Hold that stops 9/10 babies crying instantly*.This hold will help you keep your hungry baby calm if you need to stop him mid feed to wind. You know that you have winded your baby well enough if you can fold him in half, as he is relaxed and blissed out.
Don’t jump the gun with tongue-ties
Most of the babies I see have some degree of tongue-tie; it is incredibly common but doesn’t always need to be divided.
It is frustrating and upsetting when you have a tongue tie divided only to find that after all the fuss, breastfeeding is hardly better, maybe a bit worse and not the silver bullet you thought it would be.
If your baby does have a tongue-tie, consider visiting a reputable cranial osteopath who can release any residual tightness from the birth before having the tongue-tie divided. Often this helps baby to feed much better even with a tongue tie still in tact.
Give up breastfeeding on a good day
At some point you may decide to move on from breastfeeding and when you do, make sure that you give up on a good day when you know that you have considered all your options, tried everything you can think of and know that you have done your best.
Breastfeeding is different for every mum and baby, which is why when mums aren’t assessed and supported as individuals, information may seem irrelevant, unhelpful and confusing. If your baby needs help, find somebody who will work with both of you as individuals, who will listen and hear your concerns and help you to create a feeding experience that works for and suits you both.
* The Magic hold
Starting sitting down, turn baby away from you and bring his back into your tummy.
Slip your right hand under baby’s right arm and place the palm of your hand on baby’s chest with thumb and index finger supporting baby’s chin. Slip your ring and little finger under baby’s arm, so that you can straighten his back.
Place your second hand on baby’s stomach or between his legs if that feels more comfortable.
With baby held securely, stand up and place baby’s bottom on your belly button. Ensure that his back is nice and straight and then simply bounce from your knees.
If baby is cross, shush him as you jig up and down and he will quickly calm.
Geraldine is at the Baby Show this weekend at the Birmingham NEC.
For instructional videos see the eBooks available via Geraldine’s website www.geraldinemiskin.
com or via her app for iPhones and iPads.