At your first postnatal visit your health visitor will enquire about your breastfeeding in terms of your feeding pattern, your baby's wet and dirty nappies and your comfort during feeding – see breastfeeding assessment form.
We do realise that the first few weeks of breastfeeding can be a challenging time as you become a parent. This is when you're likely to need the most help and support. Take a look at 'Building a Happy Baby' resource which gives helpful information for you in this new role.
Because your newborn baby’s stomach is no bigger than a small (cherry) tomato, it's quite normal for a baby to feed 8-16 times a day as breastfeeding is being established. Connie's Feeding Clock and this breastfeeding diary may also help you in the first few days.
Babies are very aware of different smells and sounds and you may notice that your baby is unsettled when you come home because of the different surroundings. Lots of skin to skin will help to calm your baby as your individual ‘mummy’ smell , your heart beat and presence will be familiar. At this time, try not to use highly perfumed products which may confuse your baby.
Some babies can be quite sleepy after their birth. To help your milk supply and to tempt you baby to feed, you will be advised to have your baby in a skin to skin position and to hand express some colostrum. Find out more in the 'off to the best start' leaflet - page 14.
Getting in the best position
Making sure that you and your baby are comfortable and in the best position for your baby to attach to your breast will make all the difference when it comes to having a pain-free feed. Please watch the Best Beginnings video about attaching.
You might also find the CHINS and CLAMPS information helps you to remember the 5 key points for getting your baby attached, and recognising that your baby is well attached for a comfortable feed.
If you are experiencing problems, are uncertain about your breastfeeding position or it is uncomfortable for you, please contact your midwife or health visitor who can observe a breastfeed and offer suggestions as needed. You can also check the images in the off to a best start leaflet.
What you wear when you’re breastfeeding is a matter of personal taste and what you feel comfortable in. For example, some mums like to wear loose tops that can be lifted up. Others, who prefer to keep their tummy covered, wear two stretchy tops so that the top layer can be lifted up and the bottom layer can be pulled down. A soft, yet supportive, non-under wire bra can be easily pulled up or down when you want to feed your baby.
Some baby slings are designed in such a way that you can breastfeed while your baby is still in the sling. Ask your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding group for more information. Some mums feel more comfortable laying a scarf or muslin cloth over their chest while they’re breastfeeding.
Although, some new mothers will be advised to express their breast milk to tempt their baby to feed or if they are separated from their baby, it's generally suggested that in order to establish a good milk supply, your baby receives all it’s breast milk straight from your breast. Therefore, expressing to prepare for a night out, or to allow someone else to feed you baby is best left until 3-6 weeks when you feel your breastfeeding is well established.
When, and if, you do decide to express your breast milk, there are a number of options for you to consider.
In the early days you might find that hand expression is a more useful skill especially if your breasts are engorged (very full). This can happen in the early days as breastfeeding is becoming established, if you are temporarily separated from the baby at birth or when you miss a feed for example when your baby sleeps a bit longer that usual, starts solids from 6 months or when you to return to work.
UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative Hand Expression video demonstrates how to hand express milk or alternatively read UNICEF’s expressing milk page in their ‘Getting of to the right start - important information about breastfeeding your baby’ leaflet.
Using a pump to express
There are a variety of types of pumps available and your choice may depend on why you are wishing to express; how long you plan to express for; where you will want to express and your finances.
Safely storing your breastmilk
Your breast milk can be stored at room temperature, in the fridge or freezer. Milk can then be defrosted in the fridge and warmed to body temperature by placing the bottle in a bowl of warm water. Never heat milk in the microwave as it can cause hot spots which can burn your baby’s mouth and the process may destroy some of the valuable components of your breast milk.
Remember, please speak with your midwife or health visitor about your expressing as they can provide support to help you at this time.
Looking after yourself
After you have had your baby, life may seem exciting and a bit hectic! You do need to remember to look after yourself at this time. Don't forget you are recovering from your birthing experience, so do accept any offers of help-these could be to look after you; do some housework or care for older children. As your breastfeeding becomes established, you may feel extra hungry and thirsty as your body uses eneregy to make breastmilk. If you're not already taking vitamins, it could be a good time to start. See here for more information.
Support from your partner
As the partner your support is crucial to the ongoing success of breastfeeding especially in the first few days and weeks of your baby’s life when you are both getting to know your baby and establishing breastfeeding.
There are many ways that you can help with your new baby (see 10 Things Partners Can do to help bond with a new baby and Is your partner breastfeeding? Tips on how you can bond with baby too leaflets), running of the household and care of older children. You are the vital back up team… think of yourself as the ‘Pit Stop Team in Formula 1 and mum is the driver but she needs you to keep her going!
Keeping your baby close to you day and night
As your baby will need to feed frequently it makes sense to keep your baby close to you for both convenience and to recognise your baby's early feeding cues.
It may be reassuring to know that it is not only normal but essential for your baby to feed during the night . We recognise the importance of keeping your baby close at all times whilst making sure that your baby has a safe place to sleep.
Learn more about caring for your baby at night.
Breastfeeding out and about
Breastfeeding out and about.