Initiating Breastfeeding

If you attended an antenatal breastfeeding class then you will have heard about the techniques to position and latch your baby. However, it’s quite abstract until your baby arrives.
You may only remember some of what was said and reality can be quite different from theory.
Babies are born with a very natural set of innate behaviours, enabling them to seek and latch onto their Mothers breast without too much difficulty within the first hours of birth, so long as all circumstances have remained natural.
Placing a baby skin to skin immediately after birth, tummy on mummy with a warm blanket over baby will stimulate these instincts. Sometimes the Mother will need to gently guide her baby, but between them a breastfeed may be established in the first couple of hours. Watch this amazing you tube video:

However, sometimes there are interventions during the birth or interferences after the birth which stop this process happening.
Whatever the case, I’ve compiled helpful tips and suggestions to get you off to a good start:

*Read the positioning and attachment article and watch

a few times before the birth. Practice with a doll or teddy whilst you’re still pregnant.

Try hand expressing after 37 weeks pregnant. Great for getting to know your breasts and prepare for breastfeeding your baby. Don’t worry if you don’t see any colostrum, it’ll be there after your baby is born.

During labour let your Midwife know you’d like to breastfeed so she can help.

Have skin to skin contact with baby as soon after birth as you can and try getting the breastfeeding initiated in the first couple of hours.

If your baby doesn’t latch, try hand expressing colostrum into their mouth. This stimulates a sucking reflex and boosts immunity. If it’s been 6 – 8 hours and your baby still hasn’t latched, ask a Midwife to help you collect colostrum in a syringe and feed it to your baby.

Babies don’t stick to a schedule and trying to build in a routine could effect your milk supply and the baby’s requirements for development and growth. Let your baby lead the way throughout the duration of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding should not be agony and your nipples should not be damaged or squashed after feeding. If this happens the latch may be too shallow or not quite lined up properly. Small adjustments can make a big difference so ask for help ASAP.

Positioning is important to achieve good attachment. It takes time, practice and patience. You and your baby are both new to this and it’s a skill to master. Do not be hard on yourself. You may need to take baby on and off several time to begin with until you get it right. To take baby off, break the seal at the breast by inserting a small finger in-between your breast and baby’s cheek.

Your milk takes 3-5 days to ‘come-in’. Until then you will have colostrum. This only comes in small quantities and it might feel like ‘there’s nothing there’. There is and it’s all your baby needs. As long as your baby is healthy and latching to the breast regularly then no additional milk is required. Check this link to see the capacity of your baby’s tummy in the early days:

Just before your milk ‘comes-in’ your baby will most likely have a feeding frenzy! They might do an all nighter and appear frantically hungry. This is normal and will stimulate copious milk to start coming in. You don’t need to give any additional milk at this stage.

The day your milk arrives, your breasts will become HUGE! Baby will be more satisfied with the feeds and look ‘milk drunk’ after.

Your baby will feed around 8 – 12 times over a 24 hour period. They shouldn’t sleep for longer than 3-4 hours. If this happens, put baby skin to skin and offer a feed.