Breastfeeding is the same as any new skill and it takes time to 'learn the ropes' properly.
Recognising that breastfeeding is definitely the way forward is just the start. You need to find out all you can about breastfeeding and try to understand the 'mechanics' (for want of a better word!).
In the early weeks, in particular, the biggest problems you are likely to face will be lack of support and conflicting advice. If you 'want' to breastfeed, then make sure your partner, family and friends understand before baby is born how important it is to you that you are successful. Tell them that you know that you'll need their support and encouragement.
Get help right at the start with positioning your baby at the breast. And ....if you're in pain then get help! It usually means baby isn't latching on properly.
For breastfeeding to work it must be baby-led. Breastfed babies do not need water between feeds as they get a drink when they first start to feed from the breast. Even in very hot countries no water is needed. If your baby cries sooner than you would expect to feed him or her, but there doesn't seem to be any other problem, offer another feed. It is important to feed on demand since babies often don't conform to routine. This is particularly important for breastfed babies because they increase the milk supply by increasing the frequency of feeds. It's all about supply and demand.
Breastfeeding is thirsty work so always have a glass of water next to you when you begin.
It's really important not to be tempted to introduce bottles or express milk until breastfeeding is fully established, which can be anything from 6 to 8 weeks. Breastfeeding really is a supply and demand thing as we said above and it's easy to upset the balance. Let your baby suckle as often as he/she wants in those early months.
Skin-to-skin contact is vital as having your baby next to you will stimulate you to produce hormones even when your baby isn't sucking believe it or not!
Remember it's impossible to over-feed a breastfed baby. Some babies feed up to 15 times a day in the early weeks.!
Breastfeeding will help you lose any extra weight you have gained during pregnancy. Don't diet when you are establishing breastfeeding as your body needs the calories/energy to produce milk.
Remember a breastfed baby will gain weight more slowly generally than bottle fed babies. The new government growth charts now reflect this.
Bosom BuddiesTry to find a breastfeeding support group in your area where you can swap stories with other people in the same boat and help each other. NCT can be a good place to start. The expression 'bosom buddies' came about this way. If you need help with positioning, latching on etc or if you are having any other problems it is important that you speak to your midwife/GP or a breastfeeding counsellor.
Most importantly enjoy breastfeeding! Breastfeeding gives you a rush of endorphins (the 'happy hormone') which can only be good! I have never felt so close to my babies as when I was breastfeeding and without doubt one of the saddest moments in my life was the night I gave my youngest daughter her last feed knowing I'd never breastfeed a baby again.
Kathryn Crawford, Editor.
A book I found absolutely invaluable is Breast Is Best' by Penny Stanway. If I hadn't read this book, I don't think I would have been so successful a breastfeeder!
Buy Dr. Penny Stanway's Book 'Breast Is Best' Here