Congratulations! You’ve just had a baby and you’d like to breastfeed.
You know that you want to choose breastfeeding because you have heard that breast milk is the best thing for your baby – a perfect balance of nutrients: an immune boosting, calorie rich food that is on tap day and night.
But you are confused. You’ve been given lots of help and advice. Someone told you to wake your baby before you feed her – take off her clothes, change her nappy – but she screams and is too unsettled to latch. Someone else suggested that you lie on your back, put your baby face down on your chest and let her gently find her own way to the breast. It was amazing first time – she just seemed to instinctively know what to do and she fed painlessly.
It’s day three and your breasts have gone hard and lumpy – Is this normal?
You remember a useful website that someone mentioned in an antenatal class and you look up your symptoms. You have engorged breasts. The website suggests feeding as often as possible and trying a variety of different feeding positions. It says the laid back position someone showed you earlier works well. You can apply a cold compress or a cabbage leaf (yes, it sounds unlikely but it does work) inside your bra for relief.
Everyone agrees the early days of breastfeeding can be challenging – research highlights that a supportive partner and family will really improve your breastfeeding outcomes as does getting good quality, evidence based support.
If someone can throw you a helpline at this point, what could this be?
- Trust your own instincts and your baby’s natural feeding instinct
- Take time and be patient – breastfeeding is a learned skill – few of us have had the chance to observe other breastfeeding women as we grow up so we are starting from scratch with our new babies
- Observe your baby and let her guide you – baby led breastfeeding will help you produce enough milk to satisfy your baby
However long you breastfeed for – a day, a week, a year – you and your baby will both benefit. Help is at hand from local lactation consultants to give you skilled assistance, reassurance and confidence to keep going.
Written by Anna Page, London Lactation Consultant, based in Kingston.
If you feel you need more support or advice contact Anna Page on 0796 380 0243 (direct) or 07741 476 492 (receptionist)
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