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Foundations of Success

Preparing for Breastfeeding

Your body would have started preparing your breasts to produce milk ready for breastfeeding during your Pregnancy – sometimes as early as 16 weeks into Pregnancy.  The first milk that will be produced is Colostrum which contains a high density of protein, salts, antibodies and other vital nutrients but has less fat and calories than later milk.  Babies stomachs are tiny to start with and fill up quickly.  You may feel like you are producing very little colostrum but rest assured the quantity will be more than enough as this first milk is very nutrient dense.   This Colostrum will be around for a couple of days before it starts going into its first Transition becoming ‘Transitional Milk’ or ‘Foremilk’.  See our section on ‘Breast Milk’.  When this transition starts it is referred to as ‘your milk coming in’ and you will find your breasts will swell and become very firm.

The nutritional value of the breast milk will adapt to meet the needs of your growing baby and ‘Responsive feeding’ is recommended where you feed your baby according to their needs.  This will enable a more relaxed breastfeeding pattern rather than trying to force your baby to feed and follow healthy eating principles.

Your nipples do not need to be ‘toughened up’ which is a common belief.  Therefore activities such as rolling or stretching the nipple before hand are not advised and may actually harm the tiny glands in the areola that are responsible producing a milky fluid to lubricate the nipples before feeding and in fact result in the nipples being more sore.

There is no need for lotions to be used on the breast as they are not necessary and can clog pores.  If wanting something to soothe irritated nipples the recommendation is a Purified form of Lanolin which is a Salve.

The Art of Breastfeeding

For Breastfeeding to be able to start, the newborn must be able to suck, swallow and breathe; the mother must be able and willing to let their newborn breastfeed; and surroundings need to support what is known as the ‘mother-baby dyad’.  This means enabling the mother and baby to with each other as much as possible in the same room so that the baby can feed when they want to feed and not trying to force them to feed at specific times.

The first try at breastfeeding should happen as soon as possible after birth ideally within the 1st hour.  Your baby will be placed on your chest and will start to move towards one of your breasts and latch on.  If medical complications for yourself or your baby is needed it may mean having to wait a few hours.  This is not to worry about just to seek the opportunity for the first breastfeed to be as soon as it can be.

Whether you had a Vaginal delivery or C-Section it is recommended you have skin to skin contact immediately after birth and try your first breastfeed as soon as possible ideally within the 1st hour.  Your baby will be placed on your chest and will start to move towards one of your breasts and latch on.   There are circumstances that unfortunately may mean this is not possible such as Immediate Medical Intervention required for either yourself of your Newborn or if you underwent a General Anaesthetic to give birth.  You may feel sad it was not possible immediately but remember there will endless times that your baby can enjoy skin to skin time with you and the first breastfeed.  Just ensure the skin to skin and first try at breastfeeding is encouraged as soon as you both are able to.

Make the most of the help from Lactation Consultants, Midwives or Doulas in the hospital while you are there – their advice will be invaluable and help towards success. 

After the first breastfeed there are 2 ways of continuing with breastfeeding.  The first which is the preferred method is ‘Intuitive Breastfeeding’ which means the baby is lying on you tummy down with their head near to your breasts and when hungry they move towards the breast themselves and latch on by themselves The other method is ‘Active Breastfeeding’ where you hold your breast and facilitate the latch of the body of your baby onto your breast.

The most important thing is to be able for the breastfeeding to be a success so try out and decide which works for you and your baby as the key is for you both to be comfortable and relaxed and learn to be confident in what you are doing.

The next topic in this guide will go into more detail about both methods and how to encourage a successful latch.

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