Hints and Tips for Breastfeeding
In the early days, while you are trying to establish breastfeeding, it pays to plan. This way, you allow yourself the time you need with your baby to have a pleasant and relaxed breastfeeding experience. Here’s some hot tips to help you get your breastfeeding down pat.
Some things you may want to think about are:
- Other children – are they occupied? Can one of your support people spend some time with them? If not, how can you involve them, so they aren’t competing for your attention?
- The phone – turn it off (or if your need to keep it on is it in reaching distance?)
- TV remote – as per phone….
- A drink – breastfeeding is thirsty work. Have a glass of water handy. It will keep you hydrated and help to make more milk for your baby.
- Breastfeeding support – do you have access to people who can give you tips for breastfeeding successfully?
Most problems with breastfeeding are related to baby’s attachment on the breast. Poor attachment or a shallow latch can cause pain and damage to your nipples. This pain can result in your baby not being on the breast for as long, your milk ducts not draining adequately, and a shorter time between feeds. Then you start all over again your nipples don’t get a rest in between.
This vicious cycle can continue and result in other feeding methods being necessary while you heal. Proper attachment from the get-go can reduce the probability of these happening.
Drain the whole breast
Milk ducts that don’t get drained entirely regularly can get blocked. Blocked ducts are painful and may lead to mastitis. The best way to ensure this happens is to change baby’s feeding position from feed to feed. Massaging your breast while your baby is feeding will help drain most of the ducts.
One of the top tips for breastfeeding is POSITION, POSITION and POSITION. Ensuring you position yourself right will enhance your:
- correct attachment
- complete drainage
Position for comfort. No matter which position you want to use, hold your baby’s whole body turned towards you and tucked in very close with her head at the level of your breast. Baby should lay horizontally against your body if you are feeding sitting up (either hold). Make sure you have pillows handy to help support the baby. Different holds require different pillow positions.
If you are feeding laying down, put your bottom arm up under the pillow and out of the way. Baby can lay directly on the bed and will not require any support other than your top hand on his or her back. Side feeding is handy as your baby can move his head if he needs room for air. It gets you off your bottom too (great if you are still sore), but please make sure that baby goes back into his safe sleeping place (as per the safe sleeping guidelines).
Hot tip – try not to lean back to see what your baby is doing! It tends to pull the nipple out of baby’s mouth. You will be able to feel when your baby is attached correctly and don’t need to see to know.
Your baby needs a good mouthful to ensure she is attached effectively. For women with small areolas, this means the baby has some breast in her mouth; for women with large areolas, it will be all areola. The nipple is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to breastfeeding, and that is the part of your breast that needs to end up right at the back of the baby’s throat.
Please watch the video below to observe an easy, comfortable and evidence-based attachment method by Dr Robyn Thomson.
Tips for attaching baby:
- support your baby’s head behind the neck and shoulders
- line up baby’s nose with your nipple
- gently brush your nipple down baby’s nose and over baby’s top lip
- when her mouth is wide open, swiftly bring her to your breast, with her head still tilted back while you slip your nipple and areola in over the top of her tongue.
Signs that your baby is well attached:
- His mouth is wide open
- Cheeks are full and rounded
- Chin pressed into your breast
- Lips are curled out and not tucked under
These are foods, herbs or medications that can help to increase breastmilk production. The use of a galactagogue requires consultation with a lactation consultant or medical adviser. If you have tried these ideas and they have not worked for you, please contact a lactation consultant, your doctor, or a Breastfeeding Association hotline. They will be able to discuss your situation with you and evaluate whether you need further assistance.
Alcohol and breastfeeding
There is no safe level of alcohol consumption if you are breastfeeding. When you drink alcohol, it transfers to your breastmilk is at a concentration 10% greater than your blood, particularly in the first month of your baby’s life17. After this, if you want to have a drink, it is healthiest for your baby if you express breastmilk before you drink and feed it to your baby by bottle.
Dr Janelle McAlpine (PhD), Clinical Midwife
Photo by Image by S. Borisov used under license from Shutterstock.com