Why should I breastfeed my baby?
Breastfeeding helps to give your baby the best start in life. Not only does breastmilk give your baby the nutrients they need to protect them from infections and diseases, it also provides you with many health benefits too.
Find out more about the benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby.
Your guide to breastfeeding
You’ve probably already noticed that the advice you receive about breastfeeding can vary from one person to the next. That’s because every new parent has mastered their own techniques and soon you’ll do the same.
All you can do is try your best and keep practicing, you’ve got this.
How often should I breastfeed?
Your newborn baby has a tiny stomach and can only drink a small amount of milk at a time. You will probably feed them little and often, usually around 8 or more times a day. Rest assured they will let you know when they’re hungry.
Before you start, make sure that you are comfortable. This might be sat down with your back straight and supported by cushions. To help bring your baby closer to your breast, place a cush-ion on your lap, this way you can relax your shoulders and arms.
Hold your baby across your lap, resting their head in the crook of your arm. Try and position them in a straight line so their head and body are aligned - this will make it easier for them to swallow. Make sure their nose is facing your nipple and you are supporting their neck, shoulders and back as they tilt their head back.
Once your baby’s nose is opposite your nipple they should open their mouth wide enough to cover your nipple and the lower part of your areola. If they don’t open their mouth, you can en-courage this by gently stroking their lips with your nipple.
You will know if your baby has latched on well if your nipple is pointed towards the roof of their mouth and their chin is touching your breast. Once your milk begins to flow you will be able to hear your baby swallowing. As you continue to feed, your breasts will start to feel tingly which is completely normal.
After feeding, offer your other breast in case your baby is still hungry. If they’ve had enough they will usually let go or fall asleep. Just try to remember to offer the breast you haven’t used next time.
Is my baby getting enough milk?
Your baby will get into their own feeding routine, feeding frequently throughout the day will stimulate a steady milk supply as your body will produce milk if it’s being used.
If you’re not sure that your baby is drinking enough milk, look out for these signs of success:
- You hear your baby swallow during feeding
- Your baby produces around six wet nappies and two soft, yellow poos a day
- Your baby steadily gains weight
- Your baby seems satisfied after a feed
- Your breasts feel soft after feeding
If you’re still unsure, watch out for your baby’s “I’m hungry” cues, such as:
- Sucking their hands or fingers
- ‘Rooting’ - turning their head and opening their mouth as if they’re ready to latch on
Ask for help
Breastfeeding and the pressure to breastfeed can be intimidating for new mums, particularly if this is your first baby.
Remember, you’re not alone. Lean on your other half for a bit of moral support if you’re strug-gling. You can also talk to your mum friends or join some online forums for advice. Or if you’re interested in getting support in your local area, ask your midwife for recommendations.