Breastfeeding can be a source of concern for new mothers. Your body has adapted to provide a complete food for baby from birth. For your well-being and that of your child, adopt the right moves to make this moment of sharing a real moment of pleasure.
How to prepare for breastfeeding?
Your body prepares itself for breastfeeding on its own. Early in pregnancy, the breasts increase in size. So remember to apply an anti-stretch mark cream on the breasts to prevent their occurrence.The areolae become darker in colour and the nipples become harder and more prominent (so baby can easily find them). Some women have colostrum flows. Preparing of the nipples in late pregnancy is controversial. However, it is advisable for future mums to apply to a nursing balm on the nipples once a day after showering from the ninth month (and not before). This enables moisturising the nipples and can help give you confidence. You can also prepare breastfeeding in late pregnancy with homoeopathy.
Lifestyle when you are breastfeeding
It is sufficient to eat a varied and balanced diet, including three meals a day and one snack, providing protein (meat, eggs, fish), calcium (dairy products, almonds), fat without overindulging, carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes) and fruit and vegetables (vitamins).
The taste of breast milk varies depending on the food consumed. Hydration is very important. The feeling of thirst during suckling is one of the signs testifying milk transfer between mother and child. Drink regularly during the day (about 1.5 L to 2 L per day).
Watch your hydration levels: little and dark urine reflects an insufficient amount of fluids.
Go easy on stimulants such as tea or coffee. Do not drink alcohol as it passes into milk. Smoking is also not advisable.
Avoid self-medicating. Seek advice from a doctor, pharmacist or midwife. You can take suitable food supplements to prevent fatigue.
How to start the suckling process?
Early and prolonged mother to baby « skin-to-skin » contact, will encourage searching for the breast (search reflex) and sucking. Baby takes his first breastfeed within the first two hours of life.
The right breastfeeding positions
To greatly reduce the risk of sore nipples and enable effective suction, it is important to have the correct posture for you and your baby. Make yourself comfortable without anything causing pain, and without tension in the legs, arms or back. You can use pillows to prop you. You can also alternate both breasts to avoid too prolonged sucking on a nipple. Feel free to vary the positions.
Regarding baby :
His mouth should be wide open to cover a large part of the areola. His lips should be drawn back over the breast so as to create a « seal » effect. His chin and nose are against the breast. His body is facing you, tummy against you, well supported. The ear, shoulder and hip of the baby should be in the same axis. His head is tilted slightly backward to allow him to swallow.
The first milk called colostrum is yellow. It is particularly rich in proteins and antibodies. It is suitable for baby’s needs for the first 72 hours of life. Keep your baby close to you day and night during this period. He can thus suckle on demand. At each feed, give him both breasts (about 10-15 minutes per breast).
It occurs about the third day after birth and lasts 24 or 48 hours. The colostrum is replaced with milk with an increase of the quantity produced. You can feel tension in the breasts and sometimes swelling making it difficult to take the breast.
Before breastfeeding, try to make it easier for baby to take the breast by applying warm moist compresses to the breast to promote the flow or manually extract a little milk. Let baby suckle on demand. Offer him the first breast for about 20 minutes, then the second breast for the required time (a little, a lot or not at all depending on his appetite). Try different positions when baby takes the breast.
Frequency of feeds
Every baby is different. There is no set interval to be observed. The number of feeds may vary from 8 to 12 times per 24 hours, including during the night. Breastfeed baby at the first signs of awakening.
Length of feeds
This depends on the baby and his more or less vigorous suckling. Feeds will be shorter in infants who suckle effectively. In slower babies (premature, low birth weight) feeds will be longer. As long as baby is sucking effectively, leave him the breast. Remember to alternate the breasts from one feed to another
How to tell if baby is suckling properly and if he is drinking enough ?
During the feed : :
Baby’s temple and neck muscles move and his cheeks are rounded. You hear him swallowing regularly. He relaxes over the course of feeding.
Signs of effective breastfeeding :
Baby wakes up and suckles effectively (large and regular sucks) 8 to 12 times per 24 hours.
He has three stools per day (soft, grainy and yellow) during the first month and at least six wet nappies per day.
He has an average weight gain of 25 to 30 grammes per day during the first two months, hence around 200 grammes per week.
During the weeks after birth, the breasts are less tense. The composition and consistency of the milk varies during feeding.
Around the ages of 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months baby’s needs may increase. He begins to ask for feeds more often during « growth spurts ».
Many feeds from both breasts will be needed to adapt the production to his demand.
You want to wean him off
Gradually replace a feed with a bottle every three or four days to gradually arrive at maintaining only those of the morning and evening or arrive at zero breastfeed.