The best preparation for breastfeeding is good information. The more information you have about breastfeeding before the birth, the less likely you are to encounter problems.
After the birth, a family member, midwife or NCT lactation expert who offers positive support can help you to succeed.
If problems do occur, there are ways to overcome them. Here’s how:
- Start breastfeeding as soon as possible after delivery.
- Feed your baby frequently to promote milk production.
- Pump your breasts during and between feeds to increase milk supply. Milk can be pumped from one breast while your baby feeds on the other breast.
- If your breasts are very full, express some foremilk before feeding to stimulate the let-down reflex and to elongate the nipple in readiness for latch-on.
- When positioning to nurse, hold your baby so that her whole body faces you. Your baby should not have to turn her head to nurse.
- Cradle your baby close to the breast, but avoid leaning over.
- Use a nursing cushion to help support your baby.
Failure to latch on to the breast is a common problem, but the following can be really helpful:
- Trigger the let-down release through skin-to-skin contact.
- Offer a clean finger to encourage your baby to drop her tongue down before latching on to the nipple.
- Try different nursing positions.
- Smear your nipple with breast milk.
- Apply a cold pack to your nipple to harden it slightly before feeding.
- Compress your breast towards your chest (about 1½ inches (3.8 cm) from the base of the nipple) to make the nipple firmer. When your baby is sucking well, slowly release the pressure.
- Talk, rub or pat your baby to maintain wakefulness.
- Nurse your baby in a warm bath.
Listen out for clicking sounds, which may suggest inadequate attachment to the breast and/or improper sucking.
If normal movement of the tongue is affected, or your baby’s tongue is tethered to the floor of the mouth, she may have difficulty in attaching properly to the breast. See your healthcare professional or cranial osteopath if feeding is affected.
- Your baby’s top lip should rest just above your nipple, generally leaving the upper part of the areola exposed.
- Invite your baby to take the nipple rather than forcing it into her mouth.
- Ensure that your nipple gets to the roof of your baby’s mouth. If it only reaches the gum line, then latch-on is incomplete and may cause soreness.
- Your baby’s chin should touch your breast, but not her nose.
- If you experience a pinching or biting sensation on your nipple or breastfeeding hurts, your baby may not have latched on correctly.
If your baby repeatedly falls asleep at the breast, gently tickling her feet, undressing, nappy changing, rocking or walking may keep her alert.
If your baby is not strong enough to latch on to the nipple, offer expressed breast milk from a bottle or sterilized dropper, until she is ready to breastfeed.
If your baby has lost weight, wake her every 2 or 3 hours until the birth-weight milestone is reached.
Only offer a dummy or pacifier when breastfeeding is fully established and weight gain steady.
Give yourself and your baby time to enjoy feeding, skin-to-skin contact intimacy, and eye contact. Anxiety can make your baby tense. A dark, quiet, and comfortable place to relax or a warm bath with your baby aids breastfeeding. Rest or sleep when your baby sleeps.
If your baby’s head was compressed during the birth process, there may be tension on the nerves and muscles of the lips, mouth, and tongue or other areas of the body. Any imbalance will make it difficult for your baby to trough the tongue, maintain a seal around the nipple, or milk the breast during feeding. Early cranial osteopathic treatment can reduce facial tension and help alleviate feeding and latch-on problems.