Learning to breastfeed may be easy for some women, but for many it takes a while to get it right as you are both learning how to feed. Sore nipples, engorged or leaking breasts and mastitis can make things more difficult. And if you’re new to breastfeeding, you may worry about just how much your baby is actually drinking. Common challenges can include:
It is very important to ensure that baby is latched on correctly to the breast, and for many mums this can be the first stumbling block in establishing breastfeeding. Getting the latch correct at each feed is vital. Always ask for help for the first few feeds to get you started. If you experience pain when feeding then take baby off the breast and try again.
Getting you and baby’s positioning correct when feeding is very important as you will spend several hours a day breastfeeding. You need to be well supported and comfortable so you can hold your baby close to your breast and relax without causing neck, shoulder or back strain. There are a variety of different positions to choose, so try out a few and decide which best suits you both.
Engorgement can occur around day 3-5 after delivery for some mums. It can make latching on difficult, as the breast, especially around the nipple/areolar area, becomes flattened and taut. This can result in baby becoming fussy or even refusing the breast. Simple measures, such as hand expressing or using a breast pump to alleviate this fullness before feeding can make all the difference. For some mums if this is not dealt with correctly can lead onto blocked ducts and even mastitis.
Breast fed babies feed frequently as breast milk is digested more rapidly than formula milk. Breastfeeding 8 – 12 times a day is normal for newborn babies, especially in the first week until the milk come in. The breasts respond to a supply and demand principle so the more your baby demands feeds the more milk you will supply. Avoiding supplementary feeds is important to establish a good supply in the early weeks and preventing nipple confusion for your baby.
Baby refusing the breast
Some newborns are sleepy and can in the first few days be slow to feed or even refuse the breast. Do not panic if this happens, offering the breast at each feed, however short the feed, is a good idea to familiarise baby with your smell and bonding. However, it is important to get your milk supply established at this time by stimulating the breasts after each feed, to ensure your supply is plentiful (supply and demand principle). As your supply increases you can help your baby to get more established on the breast, even if this takes some time.
Remember, it can take several weeks to feel comfortable with breastfeeding, so you might need to give it time. No-one expects you or your baby to be an expert straight away, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you’re having trouble breast feeding, do contact our Careline or for more tips and advice about these challenges.