As many mothers know only too well, breastfeeding is not always easy. In fact, new research from The Baby Show with MadeForMums has revealed that 81% of new mums struggle with breastfeeding, and the struggle is not helped by pressure heaped on them by others.
Of those new mums questioned by The Baby Show, 40% said they felt pressure to breastfeed, with the biggest pressure coming from health professionals such as midwives and health visitors.
But mothers shouldn’t be too hard on themselves if things aren’t working out as well as they’d hoped, says breastfeeding expert and author of Breastfeeding Made Easy, Geraldine Miskin.
She says, “For some mums and babies, breastfeeding is an absolute doddle. Others have to work to establish it, and some never master breastfeeding no matter how hard they try. It isn’t always easy, but all mums can do is their best.”
GERALDINE MISKIN – BREASTFEEDING TIPS
In advance of her appearance at The Baby Show this weekend (19-21 February, ExCeL London), Geraldine shares some of her key pieces of advice for mothers feeling the pressure to breastfeed and struggling.
Don’t rush into a routine
If you are currently an expectant or breastfeeding mum, it is important to know that the more time you spend on skin to skin contact with your baby, the more time he’ll have to figure out what he needs to do. There is no rush to get him into a routine or into his crib; the best place for him is with you.
Work with your baby to get a good latch
Your baby’s position in the womb is something you have no control over and yet it often has a direct bearing on how your baby is birthed and delivered. More interestingly I have found that baby’s position in utero can influence how well your baby is able to latch and transfer breast milk soon after birth. Work with your baby to get a good latch and if you need a little extra help, ask for it.
Be confident that you will produce what your baby needs
Your body produces colostrum (milk) in readiness for baby’s arrival by week 16 of pregnancy, so you do have colostrum available from birth. Your baby’s stomach is only the size of a Malteser when born, so he only needs teeny amounts of milk. Be confident that you’ll produce what your baby needs, even if it feels like there is nothing in your breasts.
If breastfeeding doesn’t go well, it’s not your fault
The pivotal point to breastfeeding is repeatedly missed and this is something I need all mums to know. Your baby breastfeeds, not you. When breastfeeding is tricky or not going well regardless of how beautifully you position or help him at the breast, it’s not your fault. You and baby work together as a team and as you get to know each other better, you’ll be more in tune and things will fall into place more easily.
Shape your breast to help your baby latch
In order to feed well, your baby needs to get a good amount of breast tissue when latching. This encourages him to suckle and enables him to transfer colostrum. If your baby is stiff or tight after birth, you may find that he only does a small mouth when latching. Try shaping your breast in line with baby’s smile, so that he can get a better grasp of your breast.
Massage your breast to keep baby awake during feeds
You are your baby’s world so it is no surprise that as your baby feeds and his stomach fills up, he falls asleep. To keep baby awake, massage the breast during the feed. This creates milk flow and will keep baby awake and suckling more efficiently for longer.
Ask for help – from a consistent source
Get help if you feel that something is not right. If you need help, speak to one person, so that you get consistent advice and avoid confusion with conflicting advice.
Trust your instincts
Trust your instinct and be true to yourself. If the advice you are given does not feel right, or doesn’t work for you, it is not right. You are your baby’s expert and whilst we professionals have a lot of experience, we recognise that your input is invaluable.
A bumpy start is as normal as a smooth one
Remember that a bumpy breastfeeding start is as normal as a smooth start. Your baby may just choose to take the scenic route to established breastfeeding but you will both get there in the end.
Geraldine Miskin will be returning to The Baby Show stage with MadeForMums on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st February at 11.30 with her talk ‘Breastfeeding Made Easy – Five Golden Breastfeeding Rules’. New to the Show this year will be the Private Consultation Area where visitors can meet with Geraldine between 12.15pm – 1.15pm on Saturday and Sunday and ask her any questions they may have one-to-one.
The Baby Show takes place this weekend (19-21 February) at ExCeL London. Tickets are available on the door for £20. Opening times are: Friday 19th February: 9.30am – 5.30pm, Saturday 20th February: 9.30am – 5.30pm, Sunday 21st February: 9.30am – 5.30pm. For more information visit www.thebabyshow.co.uk.