Having supported many mums with breastfeeding over my 10 years as a midwife, I thought it would be helpful to put together a “breastfeeding top tips” guide that most mums find useful when learning to breastfeed, so here they are!
Try and find out about all your local breastfeeding groups or drop-in clinics and surround yourself with as much expert support as possible. Don’t be shy to ask for help. Local baby cafes and breastfeeding groups can be brilliant and really encouraging. There are lots of helpful organisations such as The Breastfeeding Network, the NCT and La Leche League. Your local health centre tends to be a good place to look.
If your nipples are sore, seeing a breastfeeding supporter can be the encouragement you need to help get you through those initial days. Try and get help as early on as possible. Hearing you’re actually doing OK and getting some advice about how to help latch your baby on can give you the strength you need to keep going. And meeting other breastfeeding mums there can be a real added bonus.
Although many midwives, health visitors and GPs can also be a great source of knowledge and help, not all health professionals are clued-up about breastfeeding. If you have a breastfeeding problem and you’re not getting the help you need, or you don’t know where to turn, ask if they know of or if you can be referred to a breastfeeding counsellor or infant feeding specialist.
Don't be discouraged. If at first it feels like you’re just constantly feeding, remember that this is completely normal and will settle. Be prepared that in the beginning, feeding the baby is a 24-hour job, so you may not get much else done during the first weeks or months. Discuss this with your partner and ask them, as well as friends and family, to help out with all the other stuff. Feed the baby, feed yourself and sleep. Have realistic expectations and don't try to do everything yourself!
In the early days, take it one day at a time. If you're having a difficult day, tell yourself that tomorrow will be better, because breastfeeding does get easier with time. The first few weeks are the most tricky but things will get better. In the early days both you and your baby are learning about breastfeeding and it can take a while for you both to get the hang of it. Remember to ask for help if you’re struggling, there’s loads of great support out there.
Try and make the most of breastfeeding time. At the beginning it may feel like your baby is feeding all the time, but so you don’t get bored, put on a film or have a good book you can dip in and out of, check what friends are doing on Facebook etc., or catch up with TV programmes. Try and enjoy this special time you’ll have together with your baby. In the great scheme of things it really won’t last that long. Your baby will grow and change so quickly and before you know it you’ll find it difficult to remember what these first few weeks were like.
It’s not unusual or usually a concern for a baby to prefer one side over the other but don’t be scared to experiment with different breastfeeding positions. One of the most important breastfeeding tips is to get the latch right and part of this can be trying different positions. There are loads you can try so don’t be shy about asking a breastfeeding counsellor or your midwife to show you different positioning.
Lastly, for the first month or so, try to just breastfeed without introducing a bottle or pacifier. This will help to establish a strong breast bond so that the baby doesn’t experience nipple confusion and start preferring artificial nipples.
Do you have any tips for new mums on breastfeeding? We’d love to hear about your experience! Leave a comment below or talk to us on Twitter or Facebook.