Preparing to Breastfeed

kate bergamascoThis week’s blog is a guest blog written by Kate Bergamasco. Kate is the founder of My Private Midwife and offers empathic  support for women and families during pregnancy and after birth of their baby. Kate is a registered nurse, midwife, and child health nurse with 23 years of experience. To learn more about Kate and the services she provides please visit http://myprivatemidwife.com.au

Once upon a time in the dim dark ages, pregnant women were told they needed to toughen up their poor sensitive nipples in readiness for breast feeding. These poor women were told by old wives to use a toothbrush to scrub their nipples ……ouuuuuuchhhhhh

PLEASE DON’T TRY this at home or anywhere.

Now a days we have a much more humane way of preparing women for this important and natural feeding method.

We know that women’s chances of successfully breastfeeding their baby is improved by good informative antenatal information about feeding.

During your pregnancy your midwife can offer you a breast feeding class. This class or session may be with other mothers or as an individual session if available.

Your midwife may talk to you about your plans to breastfeed and your previous feeding experiences. Some women who haven’t been able to breastfeed their first child go on to feed well second time around.

I studied midwifery with a lady who proudly told us that she couldn’t breastfeed her first seven children but succeeded with number eight and fed him till the day he went to school (not that I’m suggesting you will want to carry on breastfeeding for this long)!

Benefits of breastfeeding for baby

Your breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It protects your baby against gastroenteritis and diarrhoea, ear and chest infections, allergies and diabetes.

Benefits of breastfeeding for mothers

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of bleeding after the birth, helps you return to pre-pregnant weight, is convenient and it’s a freebie.

Breastfeeding also protects you against breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis or brittle bones

Importance of uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact after birth and the first breastfeed after birth

Keeping your baby with you promotes a feeling of closeness, which produces a strong hormonal response and is linked to higher breastfeeding success and longer breastfeeding duration.

After your baby is born your baby will start to seek your breast for a breastfeed. Midwives help you recognise the signs that your baby is ready to feed such as licking, sucking, putting her hand to her mouth, making soft noises.

Position, position, position, position

Getting the attachment right is so important to comfortable breastfeeding. Babies breastfeed, they don’t nipple feed, so if the feed hurts you can bet that the baby has sucked the nipple to the hard palate, thereby squashing the nipple and causing friction.When the nipple comes out it will look squashed if attachment is incorrect.

Your breasts are soft in the first few days before your breast milk changes from highly nutritious colostrum to mature milk.

This time allows you and your baby an opportunity to learn and practice attachment and will help avoid pain and ensure your baby receives the most milk.

Breastfeeding, while natural, is a learned skill that takes time, patience and practice.While you may have read books about it, your baby probably hasn’t and sometimes baby may take a little while to get the hang of it, especially if he is early.

Demand feeding

Your baby will feed a minimum of 7 to 8 times and up to 12 times in 24 hours while breastfeeding is being established – this is very normal and will settle with time.

Rooming-in (stay close to your baby)

Helps you to learn about your baby and know about all the funny little noises that they like to make.

Bed sharing

If you or your partner smoke, or use substances such as alcohol or other drugs that may alter your ability to respond to your baby’s needs, then bed sharing is not recommended. In these circumstances, there is an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Bed sharing should not occur on couches, soft mattresses or water beds where your baby can easily become trapped.

Using teats, dummies and complementary feeds

Your young baby is learning to breastfeed and can become confused if offered a teat or dummy before they have learnt to breastfeed well. Offering fluids other than breast milk will decrease the time your baby breastfeeds, which will reduce your breast milk supply. Frequent, unrestricted suckling at the breast will satisfy your baby.

Exclusive breastfeeding to six months

When babies are exclusively breastfed, they need no other food or drink until at least six months of age. You can be confident that your baby is receiving enough breast milk when you see six or more heavy wet nappies, at least one bowel action a day in the early weeks and your baby usually settles after most feeds.

If you require a one on one breastfeeding session or help with breastfeeding after discharge and you are in the Adelaide area, please contact Kate for a home visit.

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