Breastfeeding is an ideal food for your baby as it satisfies both thirst and hunger and provides all the nutrition a baby needs for the first six months of life. It’s proven to have many long term health benefits for you and your baby. Breastfeeding also helps develop a very special bond between the mother and her baby.
Feeding is a very important social interaction of warmth, touching and looking at each other. As your relationship with your baby continues to develop you will learn your baby’s signs/cues for hunger.
A healthy baby knows how much milk they need so let your baby dictate the frequency and length of time for each feed.
- Both breasts should be offered at each feed, but the first breast needs to be well drained before your baby is offered the second breast. A change in breast fullness indicates that the side is drained.
- Alternate the breast you start with at each feed (e.g. start with the right breast for one feed, then the left breast for the next feed). Your baby may not feed from the second breast at each feed.
- Just because your baby becomes very sleepy at the breast may not mean the feed has finished. If you feel your baby needs to feed for longer, try gently waking your baby up e.g. changing the nappy or repositioning and giving your baby time to burp.
It is common for mothers to stop breastfeeding if they think their baby is not getting enough milk. The majority of times this is not the case. Babies naturally feed more frequently if they require more milk due to a period of rapid growth.
If your young baby has 6-8 wet nappies per day and 1 or 2 soft bowel movements, (a bit less in an older baby), is gaining weight, has good skin colour and is alert and not wanting to feed constantly, it is likely you have enough milk.
The key to increasing your breastmilk supply is to increase the number of times you feed your baby and therefore effectively drain your breasts of milk (maybe also express between feeds)
- Let your baby lead when to feed and how much they want
- If your baby is only feeding for short periods, try to encourage them to stay longer at each breast or re-offer the first breast
- Try not to offer your baby a dummy or soother to extend the periods between feeds. Instead feed them more frequently.
- Look after yourself with enough rest and good nutrition
- Babies go through growth spurts during which they need to breastfeed more frequently. It doesn't mean you don't have enough milk or your milk isn't good enough. The more frequently you breastfeed your baby, the more milk you will make.
- If you have concerns about breastfeeding it’s always best to take the advice of your local child and family health nurse, an early parenting organisation like Tresillian or your GP.
I have to return to work but I am breastfeeding. I don't want to wean. What can I do?
It’s a shame to have to interrupt such an enjoyable routine, yet it’s quite possible for Some mothers are able to continue to fully or partially breastfeed their baby for many months after returning to work. It does take some pre-planning, but it’s worth the effort. Don’t be put off easily. Discussing your desire to breastfeed with your employer may help to gain some support. Start by expressing extra breastmilk and freezing it. If you haven’t been expressing, it might take a little while to build up your milk supply to be able to express more than a few milli-litres of milk each time you express. Hiring an electric breast pump may make the process easier. You may need to express at work to keep your breasts comfortable. Keep the milk refrigerated and bring it home in an insulated cool bag. Some mothers find regular expressing difficult to maintain. However, your baby can be offered an infant formula when you are at work, and still be breastfed at home. Many mothers and babies are able to continue to partially breastfeed for many months with this more flexible arrangement.
Our 2 year old has started to become very demanding and has regular tantrums. His naughty behaviour usually occurs when I am trying to feed my baby?
Going from being the centre of attention to having to share attention with another can be very difficult when you are 2 ½ years old (see Introduction). Organise a snack for your 2½ year old child to have while your baby is feeding. Make the snack fun by putting the food into a lunch box and adding interesting healthy foods. Place a rug on the floor so he can have a picnic. Having a special DVD or television show to put on while you feed can help keep your toddler occupied and happy. Have a special book to read or toy to play with during feeding time. This can act as a distraction and make feeding a special time. Tell your son that you will spend some time playing with him when you have put the baby down to sleep. Make sure you carry through with any promises you make to spend time with your son. Providing some structured attention with mummy or daddy can really make a difference as does encouraging extended family and friends to share some of their attention with both your son and baby.
I am going to be in the hospital for a couple of days, but I'm still breastfeeding my newborn. How do I manage?
As you have a couple of weeks until you are admitted to hospital, building up a supply of breast milk in your freezer will provide milk for your baby when you are unable to feed. In hospital, arrange ahead for your baby to room in with you (as per hospital policies to promote, protect and support breastfeeding), with the support of your partner or alternately to be brought into you at regular intervals to breastfeed. When you are being admitted talk to the nurses about your needs as a breastfeeding mother. You may need to ask for assistance to sit up to breastfeed or to express when you have returned from the operation. At home, your baby may be a little fussy or even refuse the breast when they are reintroduced to the breast. This may be a reaction to the emotional and physical separation of mother and baby and if the baby needed to be temporarily offered milk feeds from a bottle. Gently persist in offering the breast, as it may take a little while before baby settles back into a good feeding pattern.
Does Tresillian support breastfeeding?
Our nurses and paediatricians are committed to supporting breastfeeding if this is the mother’s chosen method of feeding her baby. Breastfeeding encouragement, education and support is provided to mothers striving to overcome difficulties breastfeeding. However, if a mother makes the decision to wean this will be respected and supported. If a mother chooses to give her baby an infant formula or has to wean for whatever reason, the nurses will support and help the mother to ensure that infant feeding is an important and pleasurable experience for both her and the baby.