Take time to breastfeed
Starting breastfeeding requires time and patience by yourself, your baby and the people around you. Ensure you have a calm environment.
You might feel better if you ask your visitors to leave the room so that you can feed your baby in peace. Allow Maternity Unit staff to help you.
Breastfeeding is a process which, in the beginning, is different every day. That is why the advice you will get will also vary from day to day.
How to position the baby
Turn the baby toward you so that his or her tummy faces yours. Make sure that the baby’s head is in a straight line with her upper body.
The nose of the baby is level with the nipple. Support the head but do not push it against the breast. Let the head tilt slightly backwards. Now you can support your breast with your free hand and encourage your baby to latch on. You can touch the upper lip of your baby with the nipple to invite the rooting reflex.
You may want to express a drop of milk from your nipple to further encourage your baby. Only when the baby opens his or her mouth wide do you bring the baby on to your breast. The chin and lower jaw should be the first to touch the breast. Check that the upper and lower lip are flanged outward properly. Correct if needed.
Your baby’s chin is pressed firmly against your breast. The head is tilted backward so that the nose is completely free. You can also achieve this by firmly pressing the baby’s buttocks against you or by lightly pressing between the baby’s shoulder blades with your hand. In the first few weeks, only the initial suckling may feel tender. Feeding should not be painful after that. While feeding, you will see slow, deep sucking movements. The cheeks will look full and rounded.
The mouth is not opened wide enough, the baby will only take the nipple in his or her mouth.
The head is not tilted backward so that the nose is pressed into the breast instead of the chin.
The baby’s chin is not pressed into the breast enough.
If the head is positioned correctly, then there is no need to keep the baby’s nose free with your fingers. This can hinder the milk flow.
When to latch on your Baby and for how long?
It is best to try and latch on your baby soon after birth. If your baby does not suck well straight away, that is not a problem at this point. Just keep her against your breast for now. Skin-to-skin contact is important when you do so.
Always feed your baby on demand. She does not need to cry to show that she is ready for a feed. Attention: for sleepy babies, you will need to determine the feeding pattern yourself.
During the first few days, the baby may feed 10-12 times in 24 hours. It is best that you wait no longer than three hours before the next feed during the day. The maximum interval you may leave between feeds one time per 24 hours is four hours.
You do not need to time the duration of the feeds. This includes during the first few days. On average, your baby will actively feed for 10-15 minutes. Make sure that the baby is latched on correctly during this time. For sleepy babies, switch sides frequently during feeds. Ask Maternity Unit staff for advice if needed.
To stimulate milk production, it is advisable to latch on your baby on both sides during the first few days. Do not interrupt the baby’s feeding to do so. You can switch sides when your baby stops sucking.
Some babies prefer to feed for several short periods in succession, followed by a longer interval of not feeding. Feeding often has the benefit that you will be less affected by hard, painful breasts. With time, the number of feeds per day usually decreases.
If you are sitting upright, keep your knees slightly higher than your pelvis. To do so, you often need to place your feet a bit higher, by using an e.g. footstool. Make sure you sit comfortably.
To feed from the left side, lie your baby horizontally, with his or her tummy pressed against you and his head supported by your left arm. The head is in a straight line with the upper body. You can tuck the lower arm of your child beneath your arm, along your side.
Cross cradle hold
Your baby lies horizontally with his or her tummy against you. To feed from the left side, you slide your right arm over her back to her head, which you then support with your right hand. This way, your right arm cradles your baby, leaving your left hand free to offer up your breast.
Your baby’s head is facing your breast, with his body beneath your arm at your side. To feed from the right side, support her head with your right hand. The baby’s buttocks are at your elbow, supported by a pillow if desired.
Lying on your side
You are lying on your side with your baby next to you, tummy to tummy. You feed from the lower breast.
Please feel free to ask for help if you want to try out the different positions during your stay on the Maternity Unit.
Is your baby feeding well?
Once the milk has come in properly you will see a change in the baby’s stools after a few days, from the dark, tar-like meconium to brown stools, and then to liquid, yellow, sometimes runny bowel movements.
Your baby may lose up to approximately 10% of his or her birthweight in the first few days after birth. Weighing before and after breastfeeding is not very useful as production fluctuates substantially in the course of a day and it will not result in any changes in approach.
At the age of two to three weeks, the baby will have regained at least his or her birthweight. In the first few months after birth, minimum weight gain is 120 g per week. In case of insufficient weight, gain consult your attending physician.
- The first milk is termed colostrum and is very energy-rich. Small amounts suffice to meet the needs of your baby.
- During the course of breastfeeding, foremilk and hindmilk are produced. The hindmilk is richer in fats, making the baby feel full. It is therefore important that you allow the baby to fully empty the breasts.
- Some babies do not wake up naturally to feed and they should be woken up every three hours during the day (pulling back the blanket, changing the nappy, taking off their romper suite, etcetera may help).
- Ongoing pain during breastfeeding is usually due to the baby latching on incorrectly. Ask for help with this.
- You can care for your nipples by massaging in breast milk after feeding. If nipples are tender or cracked, the Maternity Unit can recommend a suitable product. Make sure to eat a healthy and varied diet and ensure sufficient fluid intake. In principle, you can eat anything.
- It is recommended that dummies are avoided until breastfeeding has been established, to prevent feeds being postponed. A dummy can offer solace if, after a few days, the baby feeds well but still feels the need to suck after feeds.
Your baby will get vitamin C supplements through breastmilk and formula milk during the first six years. At birth, your baby is given a single vitamin K supplement which offers adequate protection.
Breast and hand hygiene
- Prevent infections by washing your hands before feeding your baby.
- Good breast hygiene is important. It is recommended to wash your breasts daily without soap and dry them well after.
- A well-fitting cotton bra will be comfortable.
- Breast pads can be used in case of milk leakage.
Expressing and storing breast milk
Sometimes you may need to express milk, for instance if your baby is in the Neonatal Unit and is unable to feed directly from the breast or if your baby loses too much weight. Staff at the Maternity Unit are happy to inform you about and assist you with this.
Changing to formula milk
Changing from breast milk to formula milk should be done gradually so that the milk production can be stopped without too much trouble. If you breastfeed your baby less frequently, milk production will decrease. If the frequency is decreased too quickly, this may lead to breast infection.