31 Mar Top 5 Breastfeeding Tips from Renee Kam
Breastfeeding, although natural, is very much a learned skill for mother and baby. Many mothers encounter breastfeeding challenges along the way.
Here are 5 top breastfeeding tips to help get breastfeeding working for you and your baby.
#1 Get Along To An Antenatal Breastfeeding Education Class
If you are pregnant, learning as much as you can about breastfeeding before your baby is born can help you get breastfeeding off to the best start possible.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) runs Breastfeeding Education Classes (BECs) throughout Australia. In these classes you will learn about:
• How breastfeeding works
• Why skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her baby is important after a baby is born and beyond
• Baby-led attachment. This is where a baby uses his instincts to find his mother’s breasts
• How to optimise positioning and attachment etc etc etc.
Going along to a BEC will also mean you become a member of the ABA. The ABA is Australia’s leading breastfeeding support organisation.
#2: Get Timely And Knowledgeable Support
Breastfeeding doesn’t come easily to many mothers. Getting timely and the right sort of support when facing breastfeeding challenges is important but isn’t as easy as it may seem.
Fortunately, there are some sources where you can be confident about receiving knowledgeable breastfeeding support and information. Such sources include from the ABA and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs).
The ABA is largely made up of volunteers who run the National Breastfeeding Helpline and local support groups which you will be able to attend as an ABA member. You can read more about ABA Membership benefits by clicking the link.
IBCLCs are health professionals who are the gold standard when it comes to breastfeeding education and clinical management of breastfeeding. You can find a private lactation consultants here.
#3: If You Have Nipple Pain, There Are Solutions
Many mothers experience nipple pain that ceases after the initial attachment in the early weeks but then go on to breastfeeding for many months or years.
If the pain continues beyond the initial attachment, if you experience pain after feeds or you notice any signs of nipple damage, seek help immediately.
In most cases, sore or cracked nipples are the result of incorrect positioning or attachment. If your baby is attaching well to your breast:
• He will have a good mouthful of your breast (it is breastfeeding not nipple feeding), more so on the ‘chin side’ of his jaw
• His chin will be in touching your breast and his nose free
• His lips will be flanged outwards (it’s OK for the upper lip to be resting in a neutral position though, just not sucked in).
Sometimes, nipple pain may be due to an infection or an anatomical problem such as tongue-tie in your baby. It is a good idea to seek help from one of the above sources.
#4: Rely On Reliable (Not Unreliable) Signs To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breastmilk
If you are concerned about if your baby is getting enough breastmilk or that you may have a low supply, it is important to rely on the reliable (and not the unreliable signs) of adequate breastmilk intake.
Reliable indicators include:
• Your baby’s output (ie poos and wees, particularly poos). Young breastfed babies typically poo at least 3 times every 24 hours. The poo is usually runny with seedy bits through it and a yellow/mustard colour. Some older breastfed babies don’t poo every day. A baby’s wee should be pale in colour and non-foul smelling
• Your baby’s growth. Your child health nurse will monitor this
Unreliable indicators include
• Your baby’s behaviour
• How much you can or cannot express
• Whether your baby will drink milk from a bottle even if straight after a breastfeed
• If your baby acts more ‘settled’ after a bottle
It is a good idea to seek further support and help if you are concerned about your supply.
#5: Let Your Baby Determine How Often And How Long To Feed
Babies are good at letting us know when they need to feed by showing feeding cues. Feeding cues include when a baby
• Sticks her tongue in/out
• Turns her head from side to side with mouth open
• Makes squeaky sorts of noises
When a baby is fed when she shows feeding cues, this helps ensure your breastmilk supply matches her needs. So, forget the clock, just watch your baby.
Breastfeeding can certainly be tricky to get the hang of. Hopefully these tips will give you a head start.
Australia’s leading health authority, the National Health and Medical Research Council, recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a baby’s first 6 months and then for breastfeeding to continue alongside solid foods for 12 months or for as long as the mother and child desire. Most (96%) Australian mothers start out breastfeeding but the rates drop off month by month after birth such that by 5 months only 15% of babies are still exclusively breastfed. Thereafter, only 28% of babies are receiving any breastmilk by 12 months.
By Renee Kam
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), BPhysio, Certificate IV Breastfeeding Education (counselling), Author of The Newborn Baby Manual www.reneekam.com.au