Breastfeeding Your Baby
Being well informed will help you get breastfeeding off to a good start.
Ready, steady… Breastfeeding may be a new experience for you. It’s also new for your baby so you’ll learn together. Your LMC will help you get off to a good start.
Start by holding your baby horizontally with his head opposite your nipple. Turn your baby completely on his side. Tuck his legs under your arm. With your elbow, bring his bottom close to you. Support his neck and shoulder between your spread-out finger and thumb. His head should fall back gently between the V shape your finger and thumb makes. This helps raise his chin off his chest so that he can open his mouth wide.
If you are going to feed from your left breast, support your breast underneath with your left hand. Place your fingers away from the areola (the brown area around your nipple).
Your little finger should be touching your ribs. Your thumb should rest on the top of the breast, usually on the edge of the areola. Line up the nipple with the baby’s nose, so he will smell the milk and open his mouth wide. His bottom lip will make contact with the areola underneath the nipple but well away from the base of the nipple.
Try to imagine a piece of Velcro attached to your baby’s bottom lip, and a matching piece of Velcro attached about 2.5cm/1 inch from the base of your nipple. These imaginary pieces of Velcro need to be matched together first.
Your thumb can then slide or roll your nipple forward quickly and into your baby’s mouth, just under the roof of the mouth.
Once your baby has taken the breast well into his mouth and has established a good feeding rhythm, you can let go of your breast.
Breastfeeding is the healthiest and most natural way to feed a baby, yet before the birth of their infants nearly three-quarters of mums say they did not get the chance to see how a baby ‘latches on’ to the breast in real life.
This no-nonsense video clip takes you one step further towards breastfeeding, with a close-up look at the ‘latching on’ technique plus tips on positioning and a practical checklist you can turn to at any time of the day or night.
To watch click here
Getting help for problems
You can get help from:
- your midwife
- your GP
- your Plunket nurse or Local well Child / Tamariki Ora nurse
- postnatal ward where your baby was born.
- Lactation consultant.
- La Leche Leauge www.lalecheleague.org.nz
- Family centres
- Check this web-page for information on how to get help:www.breastfeeding.org.nz
A good diet, gentle exercise, sufficient rest and support from your friends and family will all help you breastfeed successfully.
Colostrum is a hugely important food. It’s a very, very concentrated type of early breastmilk, which passes antibodies to your new baby and kick-starts the immune system, so he gets the best possible protection against infections. Just offer on demand.
There’s not much of it in quantity, but it’s highly superior in quality to anything else you could give a newborn. It gives way to foremilk and hindmilk after a few days.
This is your body’s instinctive response to make milk for your baby in reaction to your baby’s cry or just by being near him. Once feeding is established you may feel a tingling in your breasts or a feeling of warmth when your baby cries or when you begin a feed.
No extra feeds of formula
If you are planning to breastfeed your baby, it’s important not to give extra feeds of formula milk, which can interfere with breastfeeding:
- Breastmilk is made on a supply and demand basis. The more your baby feeds from the breast, the more milk you will make. Extra feeds interfere with this.
- Your breasts may become full (engorged); this is painful and can interfere with future milk supply.
- Formula milk alters the normal condition of your baby’s bowel, which may increase the risk of infections.
- Giving formula milk increases the risk of your baby developing allergies, especially if there is a family history.
Expressed breastmilk is much better for your baby, and for maintaining breastfeeding. Your LMC will show you how to hand express, or you can use a breast pump.
Dummies and teats
Avoid using a dummy or teat in the early days of breastfeeding. Your baby uses a different sucking action when sucking on a teat, and may become confused and find breastfeeding more difficult. Expressed breast milk can be given on a spoon, in a cup or with a syringe.
This just means keeping your baby by your bed. Babies in maternity units used to be taken off to a nursery. Now we know how important it is for mothers and babies to stay together all the time – babies cry less and sleep better than those who are separated. It’s also important for security reasons. You should be asked to go with your baby if they need medical tests or treatments elsewhere.