How to Start Breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding is a skill that you and your baby learn together and it can take a little time for you to be fluent in this wonderful new language.

As we have discussed, colostrum harvesting is a great way to get ready for the next phase of growing your baby; only from birth onwards, you literally are growing them on the outside too!

It is helpful to understand how the breastmilk production system works, so that you can understand how and why things can seemingly change - just when you thought you had breastfeeding sussed!

As your body gets ready for the arrival of your baby it starts to make colostrum, which will give your baby lots of goodness during the first few days. Colostrum is protein-rich and full of nutrients, and gentle on baby’s developing digestive system so is easy for them to digest.

Supply and Demand

The first few days of milk production are hormone-led, with a big drop in those pregnancy hormones from the point your baby is born, making way for the milk production hormones to get to work.

After this initial 'kick-start' to the provision of milk, all later supply is triggered by milk removal. As your baby removes the milk by suckling at the breast, the body recognises the need to replace what has been removed and more milk is produced. Basically, supply and demand.

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Increased Demand

Those first few weeks whilst you and baby are getting into the swing of things, can be the most demanding and it may feel like you get very little break between feeds.

If you find that baby is feeding more frequently than usual, it is likely because they are going through a growth spurt and are needing a little more attention. In addition, they are asking your body to switch things up a little to provide them with all the additional nutrients they need now they are that little bit bigger.

Getting the Latch Right

One of the main reasons women struggle with getting breastfeeding going, is associated with the latch.

To get started, make sure you are comfortable, get your baby’s head and body aligned and bring them close to you, facing your breast.

It is important you bring your baby to your breast, rather than bring your boob to your baby, as the latter can result in poor attachment, as well as back and shoulder pain for mum.

Remember, just like us, your baby has a hard and a soft palate. To minimise the risk of trauma to your nipple, you want your baby to draw as much breast into their mouth, so that your nipple is just pressing on the squishy soft palate right at the back of their mouth as possible. This will also help your baby get good feeds.

Breastfeeding Support

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to feed and spend time with your baby. If you want some additional support, talk to your health visitor in the first few weeks after birth and remember, you can always sign up for Let’s Talk Birth and Baby’s FREE weekly 'Bumps & Babies' group or their 'Infant Feeding' antenatal class if you want to know a bit more ahead of baby's arrival.

Sometimes you just need to mix things up a little. To learn more about mixed feeding, read advice from our Official Midwife, Louise here.

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