BELOW ARE A NUMBER OF COMMON BREASTFEEDING FAQs
Breastfeeding brings many health benefits for you and your baby and in the long run breastfeeding is the easy option involving less work.
Like every new skill it takes a while to get it right for both you and your baby but it is worth it.
Breast milk comes ready prepared with the perfect composition and nutrients for your baby and the smart thing is that your body will make the appropriate milk for your baby’s growing needs. No other food or drink is needed and it will adapt to the climate and baby’s changing needs. It has antibodies from the mum to help to build baby’s immune system and protect baby from infection and allergies. It reduces the risk of diabetes and childhood cancer. It provides comfort, pain relief and the natural nurturing babies need to develop their brains. The World Health Organisation recommend that baby’s are breastfed for at least first six months.
Remember it is free, fast, convenient, always available. Fresh and clean, correct temperature, you don’t need to sterilize, refrigerate or worry about taking bottles with you.
It may be surprising to learn that many mothers and babies start their breastfeeding journey with ease, however even those mums will report that support from their partner and family made the journey easier. In the first few days after birth, you and your baby will be learning each other’s language. It won’t be very long before you and your baby start speaking the same language which helps you to recognise when it’s time to feed baby. As soon as your baby is born, putting her to the breast and doing skin to skin within an hour after birth helps your body to recognise that it’s time to feed your baby.
Whether you have a straightforward vaginal birth or a more complicated or caesarean birth, cuddling skin to skin with your baby helps to regulate your baby’s hormones, helps them to feel calm and increases your chances of successfully breastfeeding. Even slightly premature babies do better tucked in with their mum skin to skin. Some babies are tired after their birth journey so may not feed straight away, which shouldn’t create a problem if you are using skin to skin for as long and as much as you can. However, it is important to encourage and help your baby to feed as soon as possible after birth as a baby’s suckling instinct is strongest in the first hour after birth.
In the early days many mums find trying laid back breastfeeding positions more comfortable. Laid back breastfeeding positions can be very comfortable for your new born baby as they help to calm your baby’s natural reflexes which helps them to feel more grounded and settled.
Tongue tie is caused by a short or tight membrane under the tongue, restricting the mobility of the tongue. It effects approximately 10% of babies, although only about half of these will have problems with feeding as a result of the tongue tie.
Anterior (or 100%) tongue ties are very easy to spot as the tongue can be heart-shaped at the tip and look ‘pulled back’ when the baby attempts to move the tongue forward. It can also be seen when the baby cries as the tight membrane, pulls the tongue towards the floor of the mouth. Posterior ties (where the membrane is attached further back on the tongue) are often harder to spot as the tongue tip may appear normal. Most posterior tongue ties tend to be diagnosed by symptoms and then a thorough examination of the mouth and tongue by a health care provider trained in tongue tie diagnosis.
Tongue tie can cause significant problems for both the Mother and baby. In the mother, she may suffer from cracked, damaged, painful or crushed/blanched nipples, despite seeming to ‘have a good latch’. Mothers often complain of feeling that their baby is ‘biting’ them to stay on the breast – this is due to the baby using their gums, rather than tongue to attach to the nipple. Mothers may also suffer from poor milk supply, mastitis, thrush (caused by nipple damage) and pain. Babies can struggle with latching onto the nipple, frequently coming on/off the nipple, having a small gape resulting in biting on the nipple, excessive early weight loss or poor weight gain, feeding very frequently, being unsettled at the breast, wind and colic. However, there may be other reasons why babies may have these symptoms, therefore your baby needs assessment from a practitioner skilled in breastfeeding and ideally trained to identify tongue tie.
Tongue tie division is a very simple procedure which involves the tight membrane being divided to give the baby increased tongue mobility. A tongue tie practitioner is often a midwife, nurse or doctor who has received specialist training to perform the procedure. The baby is wrapped in a blanket or shawl and the practitioner will then perform an assessment of the baby’s tongue mobility and the palate. The tongue tie is then divided back to the floor of the mouth with sterile scissors – blood loss and pain are usually minimal.
Research evidence shows that a significant number of babies have an improvement with breastfeeding following the procedure. There is little research around improvement with bottle feeding, although anecdotal evidence shows that this also improves following tongue tie division.
The risks are very minor and usually are around bleeding or infection. All parents who choose tongue tie division should be provided with good, research based information in order to make an informed decision prior to the procedure.
There are many ways that you can hold your baby to breastfeed. However, in the early days, many mums find it useful to stick to what works as there is lots of time after you feel confident to try position acrobatics.
One of the keys to successful breastfeeding is to ensure that baby attaches to the breast correctly. This is known as the latch. There are a few things you can do to help your baby to latch.
- Always hold your baby so he is facing your breast and lying in a straight line not having to twist or turn his body. The nipple should be lined up with the baby’s nose, not his mouth. This means that as he opens wide the nipple is positioned to enter up under the roof of the mouth and not just inside the lips.
- Bring him to the breast with his chin touching the breast first, then his bottom lip and tongue near the outer edge of the areola, and bringing his top lip to latch over the nipple as far as possible on to the other side of the areola. Make sure he takes a good mouthful of the areola (the dark area surrounding the nipple) and not just the nipple itself. He should have more areola in his mouth in the area of his bottom lip rather than his top lip.
- Before you bring baby to your breast it’s important that you see a wide open mouth then bring him onto the breast. Babies breastfeed — they don’t nipple feed. Allowing your baby to suck on just the nipples will make them extremely sore, and can lead to cracking and bleeding. Remember to always bring your baby to your breast rather than trying to move your breast to your baby.
REMEMBER: Tummy to Mummy, Nose to Nipple, and Baby to Breast.
Sometimes twins are a little slow to get started so you should get help to express your colostrum and use a syringe to finger feed your babies. The midwife will help with this. At Neighbourhood Midwives, we care for a lot of twin mums and spend a great deal of time on this aspect. Colostrum can even be expressed before the birth to increase production. Ask your midwife about this.
Did you know that you if you choose to you can breastfeed both of your babies at the same time? This is called tandem feeding. Some mother like to tandem feed as they feel like it takes up less time and also helps them to get their babies into a routine. Other mothers like to feed their babies individually.
The key is to try different feeding positions that make you and both of your babies feel comfortable.