One of the biggest causes for concern amongst our parents-to-be at Bump to Cradle is undoubtedly breastfeeding. The hows, whens, wheres and what ifs spiral out of control and the myriad of information from less than reliable sources out there on Dr. Google (and amongst all groups of mothers everywhere) can seem like a mine field.
So we asked our resident feeding guru Liz Brierley to give us (and now you) her top five tips for establishing feeding your newborn. You’re welcome.
Have a realistic plan of action when in comes to your feeding objectives. In a similar way to a birth plan, having a feeding plan prior to the birth of your baby can be a great way to manage your expectations and relieve some pressure in those first few hours. Whether it is having a back-up plan to give a bottle of formula/expressed breastmilk if things aren't going according to plan in the first few days, or planning when your partner can give a bottle - it can all help in those first few days.
If you are planning on breastfeeding, getting the latching and positioning right from the start is so important. You should be in minimal pain (although there may be some pain at the start of the feed but this should diminish after about 20 seconds or so) and your baby should be drinking effectively i.e. with audible swallows and no dimples in the cheeks. If you're in any doubt in those first few days seek some support straight away from your midwife or a lactation consultant.
If you are planning to give some bottles (expressed breastmilk or formula) don't leave it too late. Babies have a very strong sucking reflex which diminishes the older they get. If you are confident that breastfeeding is going well your partner can give a bottle from about 4-6 weeks. This can be a your ticket to an early night and a wonderful way for your partner to bond with your baby.
Be prepared - before you feed your baby set up a 'breastfeeding station' - you will be spending quite a lot of hours in a day feeding especially in those first few weeks so make sure there is somewhere in your home set up which is comfortable. Keep a glass of water close to you, some pillows so you can support your hand/arm whilst you hold your baby, have your phone/book/kindle available if need be.
Remember like any new skill breastfeeding can take some time to master, not only for you but your baby too. It can take up to 6 weeks before you really feel 100% confident and this is normal. Don't be hard on yourself, although breastfeeding is 'natural' it can be hard at times and it can feel like there is a lot to remember in terms of positioning and latching so be kind to yourself and ask for help if you feel like something isn't right....