Breastfeeding for beginners

Part 2 

Antenatal Education: Breastfeeding first feeds

Following my blog on breastfeeding for beginners, I wanted to share some insights on those special first feeds.

Antenatal education is especially important with maternity stays of less than 24 hours, there is little time after birth to learn about breastfeeding. Fortunately, there are some wonderful, online workshops to attend, all from the comfort and safety of your sofa!

The first few hours after birth are so precious and tiring in equal measure – it helps to have a little knowledge on feeding so you can focus on soaking up those special hours. In this blog I share a few short tips and insights to help feeding get off to a positive start.

First feeds

There is no better time to start your breastfeeding education journey than right now!

Babies will naturally start showing signs of wanting feed very soon after birth, and your midwife will encourage you to help baby latch on.

To ensure baby follows the instinct to feed and to help develop the natural bond, it is recommended baby attaches and suck at the breast about 50 minutes after birth. They may then breastfeed for 10/15 mins or an hour or more.

To help them along, put your baby against your chest, and they will probably find your breast and start feeding. (See my blog on Breastfeeding for beginners to learn more about your amazing body).

The first 24 hours

In the first 24 hours after birth, baby needs at least 2 feeds to build up their strength and encourage appetite. If you or baby are struggling, remember you always have options. Take your time, stay calm and the midwifery team for support to hand express your colostrum and given to baby in a syringe or small tippy cup.

By the second night baby may want more food more often as they are helping to trigger the supply and your body is starting to make more milk. Having sore, swollen breasts on day 2 or 3 is very common, and sometimes uncomfortable as you adjust to their new size and function. A warm shower can help to release some of the milk and feed little and often. If feeding continues to be painful the latch may not be right, so be sure to get support from a breastfeeding expert, another mum or midwife. Remember breastfeeding is the most natural thing, and it shouldn’t hurt. We just need to learn the tips and tricks to make it calm and comfortable for mum and baby.

Important to note – as you feed your baby their nappies will also change! From the dark sticky think first poo to a mustard curry sauce consistency by day 5. Wet nappies are a good sign that your baby is getting enough milk as well as their chubby fat rolls and growing out of their clothes.

My top breastfeeding tips:

  • Skin-to-skin: Both mum and baby’s skin have amazing sensors which trigger natural reactions, and skin-to-skin is the best way to help nature along and build a lasting bond with your baby. This way baby will wriggle for your breast, smelling for milk which triggers your body to release oxytocin which kick starts your milk. Avoid body creams and perfumes around the breast for this reason.
  • Research positions: Babies can feed from your breast in many positions. On your stomach, under your armpit (rugby ball pose) or even lay down next to you on the bed. Ask other mums or midwives what positions they have tried, try out a few and find out what works for you and baby.
  • Get support: breastfeeding is a new and exciting journey, but there is also so many unknowns. Be sure to seek support and ask questions, there is a wealth of advice out there.

Cherbs- Cheshire’s Really Useful Breastfeeding Service- https://www.wchc.nhs.uk/services/infant-feeding-cheshire-east/

Breastfeeding Education in Pregnancy Project- https://www.bepp.org.uk/