First of all, you need to find a comfortable position for feeding (as baby grows older it becomes less crucial and much easier).
Plenty of pillows for positioning yourself and baby are needed.
If you are planning to sit on a chair, make sure that you can put your feet up, because you are to need feeding time for relaxation.
One of the easiest ways of feeding in the early days is to lie on a bed or couch in the lateral position and turning onto the other side when you change sides.
Correct latching of baby in the beginning is essential.
Make sure that baby gets the whole nipple and a portion of the areola (the darker area around the nipple) in the mouth. Sucking from a portion or tip of the nipple can increase the chance of a ‘cracked nipple’.
The baby must be so well supported that there is no ‘dragging’ or ‘pulling’ on the nipple.
The length of a feed
Health professionals differ on advice. I will give you a guide of my own experience, but you have to choose what you believe and find suitable for your own needs.
In the beginning the nipples are tender and until they become tougher the mother needs to limit the length of time the baby sucks. Ten to fifteen minutes per breast is usually enough time for the feed. Much longer than that is too tiring for the new baby and could be detrimental to the nipples.
Frequency of feeds
Opinions differ on this aspect. I believe that three to four hourly is usually adequate for stimulation and feeding (both mother and baby need a break between feeds).
Is the milk enough?
Mother can’t see how much the baby is drinking.
The breast feels full before the feed (some breasts don’t necessarily feel hard).
Next, let the baby tell you. Baby usually stops when he/she has had enough.
Observe baby during the feed.
If baby swallows after each suck he/she is getting a mouth full of milk each time he/she sucks. If baby sucks… sucks…..sucks….then swallows there may not be enough.
Stimulation of milk
Mother look after yourself. You must to eat well, but concentrate on proteins and not necessarily starches. Eat most foods, but limit ‘wind or flatus forming foods’ such as cabbage, baked beans etc. Heavily spiced foods can also result in baby getting cramps.
Get as much rest as possible. Get horizontal whenever baby sleeps. Daddy can take over some of your ‘duties’ so that you can rest. Milk builds up best when mother is rested. Mother also needs to drink plenty of fluids. Amongst others, I use Alfafa as a supplement to increase the milk supply. Consult your health professional for advice about other medications on the market.
Care of the nipples
Treat those nipples very carefully from the beginning.
Keep them clean and dry (breast pads are very useful).
Latch correctly and support the baby well.
Use any cream prescribed by your health professional liberally (read the instructions on the label). After the feed take baby carefully off the breast and do not pull the baby off the breast. If you have a cracked nipple, treat it as prescribed but, if possible, give it a rest by expressing from that breast for a few feeds or until it feels better.
Prevention is better than cure.
On your second and third post-natal day limit your fluid intake as this is the day that the milk usually enters the breasts. Do this each time the breast feels ‘hard’ or uncomfortable. Try to make sure that the breast is soft after feeds. Express if necessary. Consult you health professional urgently if the breasts are hard, very painful and feel very warm to touch and especially if you are feeling ill.
This is a big subject and I have only just touched on it, but overall, enjoy the experience – it is a privilege!
© Teresa Denton