Helping and encouraging a Mum to breastfeed is the first and most important part of my time with her. I help the baby latch on and advise about feeding times and when she can start expressing milk so that the baby can be bottle fed as soon as possible. This is so that the father can do a feed and also so that the babe gets used to a bottle teat early on.
I have read such a lot of differing advice on this subject. Some say that the baby will get nipple confusion or will prefer the bottle to the breast. My advice is that these people are right, a baby would prefer to be on the breast, but if you start with the bottle as an alternative early enough then the baby will be perfectly happy feeding from both. In the modern world we live in, most mothers want to share the feeding with family or friends or the maternity nanny. By using a bottle the mother can catch up on sleep knowing that her babe will be fed. However, the mother will still need to express into a bottle at the same time she would normally be breastfeeding, so that her breasts do not get the wrong message and either produce less milk or become engorged.
Expressing into a bottle can be started as soon as mum’s milk is established, usually within the first three to four days after birth. The best time to express is in the early morning. The milk can then be kept in the fridge and heated up to use in the evening or during the night. I also feel strongly that if a Mum does not want to breastfeed, she must not be made to feel guilty. Bottle fed babies do not start life at a disadvantage and there is nothing worse than struggling to breastfeed if there is not enough milk or if the mother simply finds it too uncomfortable. Nipple infections are common. There is no need to put undue pressure on breastfeeding. I have witnessed a mother with an underweight baby who was so brainwashed about the importance of breastfeeding that even though she did not have enough milk, she was feeding the baby every hour to compensate and was totally exhausted and depressed. Her life could have been improved 100 percent if she had used formula alongside the little milk that she did have. The important thing is that the baby is full after each feed so that they will settle to sleep and gain the appropriate weight.
In the first week, feed from one breast, wind the babe and then move over to the other breast so that milk flow is stimulated in both breasts. Once the milk has established, usually after three to four days, you can alternate sides with each feed. However if the babe is still hungry after emptying one breast, move to the other. Once great tip is to attach a ribbon or clip to your bra so that you remember which side you fed on the last feed.
Cluster feeding: This is when a baby wants to feed constantly every hour or so from about 6-12 pm. Although this is exhausting for the mother, it can be a sign that the baby will sleep longer when he finally settles for the night. If the mother becomes very tired during this cluster feeding, she can make a few ounces of formula and bottle feed the baby. This milk is thicker than breast milk and can help to finally settle the babe to sleep.
If the mother is not producing much milk, drinking fennel tea can help. However, some mothers do not like the taste! On the other hand, if the breasts are very full of milk, a baby can be put off feeding because of fear of choking. If this is the case, a nipple shield can be used to slow down the flow and I suggest using a Medela nipple shield, size small. These are also useful if the nipples are sore. If the breast becomes engorged, express some milk before putting the baby to the breast. This extra milk can then be used as a top-up in the evening.
Breast milk can be kept out of the fridge up to six hours in a cool place or forty eight hours in the fridge.
A breastfeeding Mum needs 600 extra calories per day to help milk production and she must drink plenty of water during and between feeds. In the early weeks the babe should breastfeed 8-12 times a day to establish the mother’s milk flow. Each feed should last approximately 20 minutes. After about three to four days, when the milk is established, feeds should be every 3-4 hours. At about 6 weeks the baby will then start to sleep longer between feeds at night.
Lily Padz breastpads can be used. They adhere to the breast and not the bra. No leaks, no lines, no worries.
Multi Mam are small patches to go over the nipple between feeds to avoid leaks and discomfort.
If the breasts become very engorged they can become infected and this is called Mastisis. The mother can feel ill with a temperature and antibiotics must be taken. However, illness can usually be avoided by feeding and expressing. A hot flannel on the breast helps milk flow. The mother can dissolve bicarbonate of soda in warm water and dab it onto the nipple before and after a feed to avoid cracked nipples. If they do become sore, use lanolin or a wet tea bag. A very good product is Kamilosan.
A breastfeeding mother can sometimes experience pains in her abdomen, a little like bad period pains. This is because the baby suckling stimulates the brain to produce a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone causes the uterus to contract and shrink back to its normal size and this is what causes the pains. Oxytocin also helps mother to relax and sleep.
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