5 Top Tips for Breastfeeding Straight After Giving Birth
As my due date drew nearer, I remember feeling a little bit worried about whether my milk would come in, whether I was going to be able to breastfeed and of course many other thoughts were swirling around in my mind. As a mummy-to-be, having these feelings is only natural but of course, sometimes, reading useful tips and speaking to your lactation consultant/GP beforehand, can keep worries at bay.
If you're a first time mummy, the whole experience is new and it's difficult to know what to expect - ultimately, I fell back on one important thing - I was confident and absolutely sure that my motherly instincts would kick in and I would automatically know what to do. Now looking back, I realised they actually did kick in!
If you also have a few worries, here are 5 top breastfeeding tips that may help you in your first 48 hours.
Skin to skin
Skin to skin is so incredibly important. In the first few days, place naked baby on your chest or tummy to tummy, so that your skin is in complete contact. Holding baby so close can help trigger your milk supply and he will also cue so that you can help him latch while he is calm. I found that my baby opened his mouth and started searching for the breast when I held him this close and it allowed us to form a lovely bond. He always found skin to skin soothing and hardly ever cried.
If baby wants to eat continuously
If baby wants to eat continuously in the first few days (more than 8 times in 24 hours), this is perfect for triggering a substantial supply of milk. If baby is feeding a lot, then he will not lose excessive amounts of weight and according to lactation consultant Elena Vogel, is less likely to have issues with jaundice.
Whenever baby is sticking out her tongue, wanting to suckle, chewing on the blanket or putting her hands in her month, go ahead and latch baby on to the breast. The more you breastfeed, the faster your milk will come in, and frequent feeds in the first days will help you make more milk in the months to come. It can feel exhausting to breastfeed so frequently, but it is worth it: you will have plenty of milk and a thriving baby.
A good latch
You might feel some tenderness in your nipples in the first few days, and possibly up to two weeks but that's only natural. Don't worry, they most probably hurt because baby hasn't latched on properly (i.e latched on to the nipple without the areola in her mouth too).
It's important for baby to latch on well so that she can easily extract as much colostrum from the breast as possible and of course, it makes breastfeeding more comfortable for both mummy and baby.
Keep your baby awake while nursing
In the first few days, babies can fall asleep as they try to feed - if baby latches, has a few sucks and falls asleep, she will definitely not get an adequate supply of milk and of course it will also affect how much milk mummy will be told to produce as it all depends on baby's needs. In turn, milk comes in later, baby loses weight and may become fussier and more sleepy.
So, it's important to keep baby awake and encourage her to keep sucking and swallowing (looks like big jaw movement). Rub her head or feet, raise her arm, firmly massage her back or stroke the top of her ear to help her complete her feed.
If things didn't get off to the best start in the first few days, (baby has lost 10% of his birth weight, is very sleepy or very fussy while feeding, or your nipples are very sore), please seek out help from a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) as soon as possible. Problems are easier to fix if dealt with early, and more difficult to resolve when left for even a couple of days more.
I personally had a cesarean and gave birth 3 weeks earlier, so my milk did not come in until the 4th day. However, I still kept putting baby on to suckle as I knew this would trigger my milk supply and I also made sure he slept in the same room as me. Low and behold, by the fourth day, my milk was in full flow and seeing the surplus milk around my baby's mouth was the most euphoric feeling in the world! I was SO relieved!
However, until my milk actually came in, baby was losing weight fast and I had to give him formula milk on recommendation of my pediatrician and nurses. As long as I kept try to latch baby on and give him the opportunity to suckle/feed, that was the main thing. I was also told to keep calm as stress could affect my milk supply. I relaxed, trusting the advice of my doctor who is also a certified lactation consultant and knew inside that everything would be fine...and it was.
I hope you found these 5 top breastfeeding tips useful - if so, feel free to share with our mummies. :)