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It's a good idea to put your baby to the breast straight after the birth if you can because it helps your womb contract and speeds delivery of the placenta.
Some women find immediate suckling the most natural thing to do. Others aren't really sure and feel awkward if the baby seems disinterested.
Let your baby nuzzle your breast and feed if he wants, but don't be discouraged if he isn't very interested. He doesn't know what to do yet but he'll like the smell of your breast skin, and when he tastes the sweetness of your colostrum he'll probably be much keener.
Ideally, put your baby to the breast within the first half-hour, as his sucking reflex is at its height soon after birth. If he doesn't want to feed, hold him close and touch his lower lip with your nipple from time to time.
Early Suckling Is GoodThe oxytocin you produce when you put your baby to the breast the first time makes your womb contract, helping expel the placenta and reduce bleeding. Early suckling means you may not need a routine injection of Syntometrine to make your womb contract, dislodge the placenta and push it out. This could be helpful as some doctors suspect ergometrine sometimes reduces the milk supply.
If you put your baby to the breast before the cord is cut, your womb contractions give the baby an extra helping of blood and therefore of iron. Your midwife or doctor need not cut the cord until the placenta has separated.
Another good reason for early suckling is that a baby's sucking reflex is strongest in the first 30 minutes after birth. After this many babies become tired and disinterested for 40 hours or so before they're keen to suck again.
Your placenta may take up to half an hour to come out and during this time you can be getting to know your baby. Many women aren't a bit sleepy and want to be with their baby, and most studies agree that being with her baby makes a woman more likely to breastfeed successfully and for longer. She is also more likely to sleep well later if she has time to cuddle and suckle her baby and isn't anxious about where he is and what's happening.
Have a good look at your baby and enjoy your first meeting. You may not feel a rush of motherly love - this often takes time to come - but you'll probably be curious to examine and touch your baby. Newborn babies have a very distinctive smell which many mothers find delightful.
Self-attachmentFor the first feed - if you have the opportunity, your baby is in good condition, and the room is warm - try letting him get to the breast by himself. Lie down with him lying naked on his tummy, on top of your naked tummy. After a while, as you relax, he may start wriggling up towards your breast, then hunt for the nipple and latch on of his own accord.
It's important for successful breastfeeding for the baby's mouth/cheek to be in contact with the breast. Baby's bottom lip and chin will touch your breast first and this stimulates him to open his mouth and get a good mouthful. NEVER let the baby suck on the nipple on its own as this will become really painful and sore for you. Baby gets milk by squeezing the ducts around the nipple and not from the nipple itself
It might take a while to get the hang of breastfeeding but with a bit of perseverance you'll get there in the end. Getting baby to latch-on properly will get you halfway there and getting yourself into a comfortable position is also paramount!
Dr. Penny Stanway
YOU CAN BUY DR.STANWAY'S BOOK 'BREAST IS BEST' HERE
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