Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world. However, if you’re feeling a little nervous about nursing your baby when the time comes; or if you still have some questions or doubts you’re too embarrassed to speak to your gynae about, here are some useful tips about breastfeeding to help put you at ease and give you the confidence boost you need.
When can I start?
As soon as the first hour your baby is born! Not only will you and your baby get to practice right from the start, the ‘first milk’ (colostrum) your body produces in the beginning will give baby crucial protection from infection.
Anywhere between 8 to 12 times a day. However, instead of setting a number, look out for your baby’s hunger signals. If she seems more alert, starts mouthing or searching for your nipple, then it may well be that she is ready for her next feed.
How much milk will I be producing?
It depends on how much your baby is drinking. The more she drinks, the more milk your body will produce. The production rate will then plateau as your baby grows older. Because of this, it is important that you establish a good feeding pattern in the initial few weeks to get your body producing adequate amounts of milk throughout the entire nursing stage.
If your baby hasn’t yet learnt to nurse properly, or if you are separated from her, pump often (8-12 times in 24 hours) so your body continues to produce milk.
Will it hurt?
Breastfeeding, if done correctly, can cause some tenderness or soreness in the nipple area (particularly in the first 2 weeks). Nonetheless, it should not hurt. If it does, check with your doctor or lactation consultant for signs of infection, or if your baby is latching on properly.
What if my baby doesn’t latch on?
One of the main causes of nipple soreness or pain during breastfeeding is you’re your baby is not latching on properly. If this is the case, there are a few things you can do to help her along.
- Cradle her on her side with her entire body facing you
- Pull her in close at chest level
- With your free hand, support your breast with your free hand by placing your thumb at the top and fingers at the bottom (in a shape of a C), and gently coax her to latch on
- Try to have baby’s mouth cover your entire nipple and most of the areola
Don’t worry if you encounter some hurdles at the initial stage. With time and practice, you will soon be nursing with ease!
Does size matter?
Absolutely not. The ability and capacity to nurse your baby does not depend on the breast size as a whole, but on the amount of glandular tissue in the breast – the component responsible for milk production.
When should I stop?
This is for you and baby to decide. Some mothers wean their babies earlier than others. However, the WHO and UNICEF recommend that you breastfeed exclusively for at least 6 months, and then up to 2 years together with complimentary foods,.
The key to a successful and enjoyable nursing experience is to relax and be patient. Bear in mind that this is a learning process for both you and your baby. Nonetheless, should you have other concerns or doubts, always refer to your doctor or lactation consultant for professional support.