Breastfeeding expert Geraldine Miskin shares her top 10 practical tips that will hopefully transform your breastfeeding experience and give you confidence to know that everything is going well right from the start.
1. Aim for an off-centre latch
Rather than aiming for a bulls-eye latch with your nipple in the centre, aim for an off-centre latch . Your nipple will be out of the way and baby will get your milk really easily.
2. Bring baby to the breast quickly when latching
The quicker your nipple gets to the back of baby’s mouth, the more comfortable the latch will be. You only have a very small window of opportunity to get your breast to where it needs to be before baby starts to close his mouth.
3. Watch for swallows rather than watching the clock
When feeding, focus on how often your baby swallows, rather than how long he feeds for. It is much better for your baby to swallow frequently and feed for 10 minutes than suck for ages before swallowing and so stretch out the feed for 60 minutes.
4. Keep feeds effective
It’s lovely to have baby at your breast, but if he constantly snoozes, you’ll be there all day. Breast compression delivers milk into your baby’s mouth, keeping him awake and ensuring he feeds effectively. It is a much better technique to use to keep him feeding efficiently than blowing on his face or tickling his feet.
5. Wake to feed for better nights
Your baby will sleep well at night if he gets the bulk of his milk during the day. If your baby doesn’t wake on his own for daytime feeds and prefers to feed more at night, you can wake him and feed him during the daytime to encourage him.
6. Feed according to your anatomy
Your breast size doesn’t determine how much milk you produce in 24 hours but it does influence how much milk you produce in one go. To ensure your baby gets enough milk over the course of the day you need to feed in line with your cup size to maintain a healthy supply.
7. Monitor poo and weight gain to know what’s going in
In the first week, before you are able to weigh him regularly, you can track the changes to baby’s poo to see that he is getting enough colostrum. This will give you confidence that he is getting what he needs, even if you feel as if you don’t have much to offer him. After the first week, you will know that your baby is getting enough milk if he gains the expected amount of weight. Further more, the extent of his weight gain will tell you whether he is feeding enough, too much or not enough.
8. Feed regularly to establish a pattern
When you feed at regular intervals, your body knows what to expect and milk production will be really straightforward. As much as possible, find a feeding pattern or rhythm that works for you and baby and stick to it.
9. Make more milk
Any milk that you drain from the breast is automatically replaced. To make more milk, feed more often or express if baby is not feeding well. Any breast that makes some milk can make more milk.
10. Give up breastfeeding on a ‘good day’
When you give up on a ‘good day’ you know that you have done your best and exhausted all your options. Don’t give up breastfeeding when you are at your lowest ebb because then you’ll wonder whether you gave up too soon and in the heat of the moment. Give breastfeeding your best shot and know when to call it a day without feeling any guilt.
Extracted from Geraldine’s new book Breastfeeding Made Easy, published by Vermilion.