Although breastfeeding is a completely natural process, it isn't always easy to begin with. It's a new experience for you and your baby, so a little time, experimentation with different techniques, and patience may be needed. But when you settle down into the routine that works for you, you’ll probably find it’s both effective and enjoyable!
You’ll need to feel comfortable and relaxed during breastfeeding. If you’re anxious or uncomfortable your milk won’t flow properly and your baby may grow agitated. Concentrating on the feeling of just being close to your baby can help some mums relax. While others find that just letting their thoughts slip away is the best way to start.
Chat about it
If you have any difficulty starting or maintaining breastfeeding, speak to your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding counsellor. They’ll be able to give you the support and guidance you need.
Chat forums can also be a great way to share your experiences and pick up advice and information from other mums.
Help for sore bits
Ouch – breastfeeding is making my nipples hurt!
Sore nipples are quite common when you first start breastfeeding. They can be a sign of your baby not being latched on properly or being in the wrong position, although sometimes it's just because your nipples are not yet used to feeding your baby. A nipple cream can help to relieve any discomfort. Your midwife or health visitor may also recommend using nipple shields for a couple of days to protect you while your baby is feeding. If you do find your nipples still getting sore, check to make sure your baby is positioned properly when feeding, with a large mouthful of breast, and not just sucking on the nipple.
I’ve just started breastfeeding and my breasts are very full and uncomfortable - is this normal?
After the first few days of producing colostrum, your breasts will start to produce larger quantities of milk (often referred to as your milk ‘coming in'). This can mean a day or two of overfull, swollen, uncomfortable breasts.
Try to feed your baby frequently, ensuring your baby is correctly positioned and attached to the breast, feeding with both breasts each time. If your breasts are too swollen for the baby to latch on properly, try expressing a little milk before feeding. You can also try using warm flannels on your breasts to start the milk flowing. You may also find that wearing a properly fitting, supportive bra during both day and night helps a bit.
I have a hard, red, lumpy area on one of my breasts and it’s very painful. What’s causing it?
These red lumpy areas on the breast can occur when the breast milk leaks from the ducts to the tissues, creating inflammation or swelling.
This may be mastitis so it’s best to check with your GP. Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast which can make you feel tired and flu-like.
The most common reason for mastitis is that a baby does not latch on properly to the breast and as a result the milk is not removed effectively. Your health visitor or midwife will be able to offer guidance with correct positioning and attachment to the breast. Your doctor will probably advise you to keep on feeding your baby (if you stop feeding with that breast it may aggravate the problem) and if an infection is present, antibiotics may be prescribed.