Remember breastfeeding is a skill and it takes time to establish. It is a two-way relationship between the mom and the baby.
Skin to skin contact immediately post birth uninterrupted for at least 1 hour is so important to get breastfeeding off to a good start.
Skin to skin contact is calming for your baby, and helps to regulate his/her temperature and breathing.
Some babies latch on during skin to skin contact on their own.
Ask for help – a good latch will help prevent nipple soreness.
You should feed your baby 8-12 times over 24 hours, avoid top-ups with formula, and avoid pacifiers and artificial nipples.
Feed on hunger cues such as hand to mouth movements, wriggling, sucking sounds, soft cooing – not when the baby is crying.
A good latch will be comfortable for mom. The baby’s mouth should be opened wide, the baby’s chin touching the breast, top and bottom lips turned out, and positioned tummy to tummy.
Bring baby to the breast – not the breast to the baby.
If you feel your baby is not well attached, take your baby off your breast and start again. One incorrect latch can cause nipple damage.
A feed usually lasts approx 15-20 minutes, but all babies vary.
Allow the baby to feed until satisfied, or/and the breast is soft.
Never time a feed.
And remember, in the first two days, your baby’s stomach is only the size of a hazelnut and a feed will only measure 5-7ml. By day 3, 22-27ml will fill a baby’s stomach, increasing to 45-60ml by day 7.
‘Cluster Feeding’ is a common pattern for breastfed babies, feeding frequently for 2-3 hours, usually in the evening.
Growth spurts on day 10, 3 weeks, 6 weeks and 3 months are also common, with increased frequency of feeds for 24-36 hours.
For any concerns you may have when you are at home with your new baby, contact your public health nurse, GP or lactation consultant.
Breastfeeding support groups are held in most towns, and provide great support and advice to moms.
Signs that a baby is breastfeeding well:
- Minimal nipple discomfort
- 6-8 wet nappies a day
- Regains birth weight for day 10
- Baby is alert, with good skin colour
- The more your baby drinks, the more milk will be produced