Breast feeding can often be the most natural ways of feeding a baby but also the most difficult! In my 25 years as a Midwife I've seen it all!
These are the some of the most important things:
- Correct positioning and the latch
- Draining the breast
- Frequent feeds - on demand
- Observing your baby's cues
- Supportive nursing bra
A foot stool is also really important. If you don't have a footstool then a heap of yellow pages (old phone directories) or some thick old books will do.
OK, now we're comfy and we have a glass of water nearby. Keeping your water intake up is really important and you should aim for a fluid intake of at least 2-3 litres. It may be more on a hot summer day in Australia! Tomorrow we're hitting 46C!!!!Phew!
Now we're going to look at the baby's position and the latch.
You're aiming for nose to nipple (and tummy to your tummy) - the baby's nose with your nipple, teasing their top lip with the nipple. Once you see a nice wide open mouth and the tongue coming down over the gum then you can help guide the baby onto the areola and nipple. Most of the milk ducts are on the bottom bit of the areola so its important that the baby has that part of the areola in the mouth. You can see correct attachment by the way the jaw moves and around the ear. If you hear a smacking noise or see the cheek dimpling in or it hurts all through the feed that is probably incorrect attachment. Break the seal with your finger and re-attach till it feels right.
How many feeds is normal? 6-8 feeds a day is typical but it can be as many as 12 and as they get older (around 3 months) it may be around 5 a day. Basically every baby's nutritional needs are different. Make sure your drain the first breast. Feeding every 2-4hrs during the day is a normal duration. Try not to consistently let baby feed less then 2 hourly as they end up snack feeding and getting too much fore milk and not enough hind milk. Too much fore milk can increase lactose and lead to frothy frequent poo's and tummy ache. Not enough hind milk can affect weight gain long term.
Try not to press down with/touch the breast with your hand or a finger, during a feed, as this can affect milk duct drainage and lead to mastitis. Your baby will not suffocate no matter how big your boobies are! It's also really important to keep the baby's head in close to the breast to stop them coming off onto the nipple and causing nipple damage.
If you're engorged (too full on day 3 or 4) then try reverse pressure softening - see link below
Look for the wet nappies, at least 4-5 a day is important. That tells you that your baby is well hydrated. Dirty nappies are not as important but they still give information. We need to see the stool moving on from meconium by day 2-3 (black, tarry substance) and becoming mustardy yellow and often explosive with white seedy bits in it. They may poo once a feed or once a day or once every couple of days. Again every baby is different.
It's really important to observe their feeding cues, pre-empt them and respond.
So hopefully I've given you a few good bits of info. I think a blog on breast feeding was maybe a bit long overdue and there will be a few more to come. It's a shame to keep all this info inside my head and not put to good use!!!