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Breastfeeding tip : Recognising a growth spurt

* You feel as though you haven't got enough
* Baby getting upset at the breast (though can be a sign of other common problems)
* Baby is breastfeeding often or almost nonstop (feel like baby is always wanting to feed)
* A baby who was previously sleeping through the night is now waking to breast feed several times
* Baby will latch and unlatch, fussing in between

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Top Tips before starting to breastfeed

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default Top Tips before starting to breastfeed

Post by Natasha on Tue Sep 18, 2007 8:28 pm

Before your baby is born
An important part of preparation for breastfeeding comes before your baby is even born. Breastfeeding is, of course, completely natural – this does not, however, mean that it is necessarily easy. Almost all women can breastfeed, as long as they get good advice and good support.

Make sure that you get as much information as possible before your baby is born – enrol in antenatal classes, most of these will include some guidance on breastfeeding; read a book on the subject (see Recommended Reading); see if your hospital or midwife runs breastfeeding workshops for mums to be; try to watch a breastfeeding video; get the phone number for a breastfeeding counsellor, and make sure it is in a place that you can find easily. Some breastfeeding counsellors will even visit you at home before your baby is born, and give you tips on positioning so that you feel more prepared.

If your husband/partner will read the information as well, that can help - he can then offer ideas and remind you of things you might have forgotten
It's also worth buying some Avent breast shells (not nipple shields - only use them as a last resort) - which will help to air your nipples. Put them in your hospital bag, and if you don't use them, then you can always take them back to the shop or sell them on.

Starting out
Your milk will probably not ‘come in’ until several days after the birth, so please do not worry if your baby doesn’t seem to be taking much in, as long as they are waking for a feed, and they are suckling well. Remember as well, that it is perfectly normal for your baby to lose up to 10% of their birth weight, and it may take a couple of weeks for them to regain this.

Some women panic in the first few days, because they are worried that their baby isn’t getting enough milk. In these first days, the baby isn’t getting milk, they are drinking colostrum, which is the thick yellowish fluid that you may have noticed leaking from your nipples. This is high in calories, and full of the vital antibodies that your baby needs to fight off infections.

Even if your baby is given formula in hospital (perhaps because he’s spent some time in special care) you can still continue to breastfeed. However, don’t be bullied into letting the nurses give your baby a bottle of formula if you don’t want them to – NHS professionals do not generally have much training on breastfeeding, and will often suggest supplementing with formula as soon as any problems occur. You can add a note in your birth plan to this effect such as ‘If for any reason the baby needs to be fed not from my breast, I would appreciate it if the baby could be fed expressed milk using a cup or spoon rather than a bottle, if possible. Formula top-ups should be avoided unless absolutely necessary’

Constant feeding is normal in the early days - and you may decide to try co-sleeping, which will help to maximise the amount of rest/sleep you get. If you would like to co-sleep but feel apprehensive about it, reading '3 in a bed' by Deborah Jackson may allay your worries.

If you can get through the first 4-6 weeks you should be seeing the benefits of your work. Breastfeeding *may* be difficult in the early weeks, but persevere because once you get it right the rewards from feeding totally outweigh the initial difficulties. If you are finding it tough, set yourself a deadline of when you would like to get to eg 4 weeks. For most women when they get to that date they are finding breastfeeding easy and convenient and do not wish to give up breastfeeding.

Perfect Positioning
Remember that babies only know how to suck, not to latch on properly – that is a skill that they have to be taught.

Stroke your nipple down from her nose, until her mouth is open wide and then put your nipple in her mouth, pointing up towards the roof. If she's holding her lips close together, it's going to be painful, so start again – it may take some time to get right at first, but over time you and your baby will become experts at this.

Pillows are good to support baby at first till you get more used to feeding him.

Holding the baby with one hand at the back of the head/neck will help to get her in the right position - otherwise, her neck and head will bobble about and you will probably end up with poor positioning. A good way to remember how to get the right positioning for breastfeeding is to imagine you are wearing your baby like a belt, tucked tummy onto you with their legs together and wrapped round your sides

When you have latched your baby on, count to ten - if it hurts then something is wrong, often a bad latch! It may be uncomfortable for a while but you shouldn't have pain - if you do you need to get it sorted out. Take the baby off the breast (with a finger in the baby’s mouth to break the suction) and start again. If you're having trouble latching on think about your whole position, not just fixating on nipple and mouth - especially look at whether you are relaxed, and the baby's weight is in the right place

Routine? What Routine?!
Don't even think about trying to get into a routine before 6 weeks – the housework can wait, your baby won’t be this small again. When your baby cries, she probably is hungry, even if she just fed one hour ago. Before your baby is due, cook a batch of food (or buy ready meals) for the freezer so you can concentrate on breastfeeding in the early days

Trying to extend the time between feeds is NOT going to mean more milk on the next feed, just the opposite. Your milk production will be increased by your baby suckling, and will not dry out overnight - stopping milk production is a process that can also be retraced, ie. if you start nursing more, your breasts will start producing more milk again. It won't always happen overnight, but it will happen within a few days.

Rather than 'feeding on demand' try unrestricted feeding, so as well as feeding when baby asks (and this can be rooting not just crying) also offer a feed if you think it's a good time, if baby is awake and alert, if you need to go out soon, if you're sitting down with nothing else to do, if your breasts are full. Breastfeeding is a two way process - don't be afraid to encourage your baby to feed to make you more comfortable, they'll usually be happy to oblige. This style of feeding is even better than demand feeding for establishing a really good milk supply quickly.

Whatever you do, don't worry that your young baby is feeding too often. If you consider how much food/drink passes your lips on an average day, you will likely find that the baby isn't that much different - especially when you take into account how small your baby's tummy is.

When you are established
Make sure your family know how important this is to you. Sometimes well-meaning relatives will step in and try to get you to use bottles, especially if you're having any difficulty. If you're exhausted you're more likely to agree, and then you may regret it later. If they know you're very committed to breastfeeding, and want their support, they're more likely to encourage you, rather than tempting you to try bottle feeding.

Some women prefer not to buy bottles before the birth. They feel that if they are close at hand, it might be too tempting to use them at the first sign of any problems with breastfeeding. However, if you decide to do this, then its worth looking before the baby is born at which bottles you would want to use, so that in an emergency you can send someone to buy them quickly. An alternative is to buy the equipment before your baby is born, but then either get your husband or partner to hide them, or else leave them at a friend’s house.

Once breastfeeding, it is possible to express your milk so that you can have a break, and someone else can look after the baby. This is also useful if you are worried that the father won't get a chance to bond with the baby if he misses out on feed time (although there are lots of other opportunities for Dad to do some bonding). Its best to start expressing before your milk supply settles down, otherwise you may find it more difficult to produce enough milk for both expressing and breastfeeding.

Don't necessarily wait too long before introducing a bottle. If you've had problems establishing feeding then you're probably best waiting, but if you've got a natural born feeder, then consider introducing a bottle earlier - otherwise you may end up with a babe that doesn't take a bottle.

It is possible to enjoy the occasional drink and still breastfeed. After 9 months of restricting some foods and alcohol from your diet, a lot of women would like to be able to relax a bit more, and have a glass of wine with their dinner. This is fine – studies have shown that the level of alcohol in breastmilk is similar to that in your bloodstream, so if you have the odd glass of wine, and are not feeling drunk, then the level of alcohol in your breastmilk should not affect your baby.

However, if you have a history of asthma, eczema or allergies in your family, then you should still avoid peanut or peanut products, and you may find that some foods irritate your baby’s stomach.

These are some of the tips that have been passed on to me from breastfeeding mothers:

“The best cure for cracked or sore nipples is a little bit of breast milk squeezed out and rubbed (lightly!) onto the nipple and left to dry in the air”
“Lansinoh healed my cracked and bleeding nipples in a few days - you can buy it from the NCT website, it's pricey, but a little goes a long way and it's worth it!”
“You don't need a pump to express, you can do it by hand (imagine milking a cow!) and all you need is a large sterilised bowl - and a hot flannel if you are engorged.”
“The other breast is stimulated when the opposite is sucked, thus it's easier to get a new letdown from a previously "emptied" breast after the baby has sucked on the other one for a while.”
“Learn how to breastfeed lying down on your side-fabulous for feeding at night”
“If you are going back to work and are planning to bottle feed eventually, then introduce a bottle once you have the hang of breastfeeding (around 6 weeks). Some girls I know took too long to introduce formula and had a difficult couple of weeks trying to get their baby to take a bottle before returning to work.”
“Always take spare breast pads when you go out”
“Put your breast pump together before you need to use it. It took me 40 minutes of faffing to work out how it all fitted together by which time I had to feed Adam again!

And finally….
Just because your baby lost a certain proportion of their birth weight or isn't gaining a certain amount of weight per week doesn't mean you can't breastfeed - what matters, is that your baby is happy and alert and feeding. Remember also that the charts used by Health visitors to plot growth are based upon formula fed babies, and it’s completely normal for breastfed babies to have a slower weight gain. This does not mean that your baby needs to be weaned earlier.

Trust your body, most babies take a while to learn how to latch and it does get much easier once your milk comes in.

If you are having problems don't give up until you've spoken to a breastfeeding counsellor. If you think you can't continue consider mixed feeding. Some breastmilk is better than none at all and mixed feeding allows some mums to continue nursing who couldn't have done otherwise.

During growth spurts you will find that your baby will probably feed 1-2 hourly, both night and day. This is normal and does not mean that your milk supply isn’t good enough. The best way to deal with them is to accept them, and to rest as much as possible (forget about the housework), eat well, eat lots of chocolate, and make sure that you drink lots of water regularly. They are short term growth spurts, which will end when your milk supply catches up. They normally happen at 3 days, 6 days, 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 10 weeks, and then monthly

Don't feel pressurised into breastfeeding if you really are against it as chances are that you and your baby will both end up really miserable.

If, in spite of all efforts to breastfeed, you end up bottle feeding - remember you are not a failure. Any breast milk is better than none. Breast may be best for baby but it's not always for best for mother.

Taken from Tree Hugger Mums

Breastfed Lottie for nearly two years and Livi for 13 months.
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