A Guide to Breastfeeding
Why is breastfeeding important?
Breastmilk is not just a source of food, breastfeeding can also be used to comfort babies and helping the bonding- both physical and emotional. Breastmilk contains vital key nutrients for development for example; enzymes to aid digestion, growth hormones to support babies immature system to cope outside the uterus.
What is colostrum?
This is the name of the milk that is produced by the breast in the first few days of life. It is a concentrated form of breast milk and contains lots of goodness for your new-born. A new-born babies kidneys cannot cope with large volumes of milk , that is why your baby starts to learn how to suckle at the breast in the first few days, taking smaller volumes. Colostrum is low in volume, full of nutrients to help protect your baby against infection, has a laxative affect to help clear the meconium from birth, helping to prevent Jaundice.
How often should I feed my baby?
A healthy baby may feed infrequently in the first 24-48 hours, but the breast should be offered frequently at least four hourly, as this can impact milk production if baby does not latch. You can try skin to skin contact, as this will help with attachment and also lovely for bonding! Most babies will feed for up to 8-10 times during a 24-hour period, and expect to feed during the night, your hormones are higher at night and babies know this instinctively.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
During the first few days your babies tummies will be very tiny, approximately the size of a marble on day 1 and by day 3 the size of a walnut. The best way to know that your baby is feeding enough is by frequent wet nappies and at least two dirty nappies in a 24-hour period. The colour of the nappy will change over the first few days, from black to a yellow seedy mustard colour at around day 3-4. The babies mouth should be moist and baby should settle for a while after a feed.
What do I do to help increase my milk supply?
Most women are able to produce milk and it is very important to offer your baby the breast at least every 3-4 hours, but some babies will want to feed more often. Initiating skin to skin and ensuring that baby is attached well at the breast. Feed frequently- switching breasts can also help as this will help trigger more than one let down reflex. Longer feeds at the breast will also give more high calorie milk. Try not to become too stressed as this will not help the hormones that aid the let down reflex. Try using a natural stimulant such as fennel tea, fenugreek, lemon grass and Mandarin. Our Bosom Buddies survival kit contains oils to help with your breastfeeding journey.
Can I take contraception whilst breastfeeding?
It is very possible that you can become pregnant again soon after the birth of your baby, even if you are breastfeeding and your periods have not returned. Before your periods arrive you ovulate around 14 days before your period arrives, so your fertlilty can return before you are realise it! When you are ready the best the thing to do is to dsicuss with your family planning practitioner who will advise the best options for you. The options range from progesterone only pills through to implants and Intrauterine devices.
When should I stop feeding my baby?
This is entirely up to you and your baby. The current advice from the World Health Organisiation is for babies to receive breast milk for at least 6 months of life. No other foods are necessary as the digestive tract is less mature before 6 months of age. Enjoy the experience and the journey!!
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