If you are currently struggling with breastfeeding please try and get yourself to a breastfeeding clinic or phone one of the national helplines as soon as you can. If you would like a post natal visit from me in the comfort of your own home to assist with any feeding issues you may have then please contact me.
You can ring the UHW Midwifery Led Unit on 029 2074 5030 (or 029 2074 5196) 24 hours a day. You can also request a maternity care assistant to visit you at home.
My top tips for preparing to breastfeed:
- Be supported. Ensure everyone around you knows your plans and ask them to support you. Your partner will be absolutely key in your success so ask them to do everything else so you can concentrate on feeding. Visitors can make their own tea and help out with housework in return for a quick newborn cuddle.
- Be clear about your wishes. Tell your healthcare team (and birth partner) that no formula is to be given to baby without your knowledge, and if supplemented feedings are needed they can be given by oral syringe not bottle (to avoid nipple confusion in the early stages).
- Be prepared. Find out the details of all your local support groups (see my link here) and relevant phone numbers you can call if you have a middle of the night issue. If there are any antenatal breastfeeding classes available then attend (with your partner if possible).
- Be aware that any artificial hormones or pain relief given during birth can have an effect on breastfeeding. Attend one of my hypnobirthing courses to give you the best possible chance of an unmedicated labour.
- Be with baby. Aim for immediate skin to skin following birth, and breastfeed your baby within the first hour, as generally this will give you the best chances of success. Keep baby close wherever possible so you can respond and feed on demand.
- Be educated. Understand what is normal for breastfed babies and remember no two babies are ever the same! There are a lot of myths and old wives tales out there which can be very damaging to a vulnerable new mum with no experience.
- Be comfortable. A newborn baby has a very small stomach and requires regular feedings, especially during a growth spurt. Get yourself in a comfortable position with something good on the TV, a drink and snack in reach and enjoy this special bonding time with baby
What to expect when breastfeeding a newborn
- Signs of hunger include hand in mouth, rooting, stirring. Crying is the last resort for baby so try and feed them before this point as it can be hard to get a crying baby to latch on and can make you both stressed.
- You will be producing colostrum for the first few days. This thick yellowy substance is full of nutrients and antibodies and is perfect for a newborn babies tiny stomach.
- Signs that your milk supply is changing and increasing are fullness of the breasts, possibly engorgement, tingling sensation, leaking milk. Most women report their 'milk coming in' around day 2 or 3 but it can take longer.
- To encourage milk production, increase skin to skin contact, ensure baby is offered the breast frequently and allow baby to empty the breast at each feed.
- Aim for 10-12 feeds in a 24 hour period.
- Ways to tell baby is getting enough milk include wet and dirty nappies (day one expect just one wet and one dirty nappy, day 2, 2 wet and 2 dirty nappies etc until your milk comes in and then expect 5-6 or more wet nappies and 3-4 dirty nappies a day.
- Breastfed babies tend to lose up to 10% of their birth weight in the first week. There can be many reasons for weight loss that don't all relate to feeding so weight should be considered alongside other signs of successful feeding.
- Breastfeeding can be very demanding. You are likely to be hormonal, tired, recovering from birth and unsure if you are doing everything right. It is vital you seek support from professionals if you are struggling. Be kind to yourself and make breastfeeding your only job for the first week or so. If you need additional support then please contact me for a postnatal visit.