Top Breastfeeding Tips from a Local Pro

Published on: May 16, 2014

Breastfeeding consultant and doula Catherine Dufour shares her wealth of knowledge and experience with new mothers preparing to breastfeed their newborns. By Catherine Dufour   Breastfeeding often takes around three weeks to become established and it’s no secret that it’s uncomfortable, even painful, in the beginning. Getting into a routine that works for the mother and her baby usually brings an increased level of enjoyment and satisfaction to the experience. The importance of skin-to-skin contact to get breastfeeding started is an issue, which new mothers need to know about. It can be difficult for women to comfortably bare all, especially when they are not alone–but Catherine would like to encourage women not to be shy and allow the undressed newborn to rest between the breasts.
Breastfeeding often takes around three weeks to become established and it’s no secret that it’s uncomfortable, even painful, in the beginning.
The benefits of skin-to-skin contact are well documented and it’s recognized the baby is programmed to hone in on the target–the combination of areola and nipple–then shuffle it’s little body to find and suckle at the mother’s breast. But this is not always that easy, for many reasons that are very real and active in the early hours and days after birth. Catherine has the following pointers to offer new mothers.

Different breasts all can produce milk

Any size and shaped breast can produce milk and feed a baby. Even a single breast, if the other is unavailable or not functioning to produce milk effectively, will do the job. Breast tissue prepares for baby feeding during pregnancy; women’s breasts will all change in differing ways and at different rates. Some will produce colostrum (baby’s first feeds) in pregnancy.

Optimal ways of positioning baby

Whilst feeding, it’s best if you hold the baby directly in your arms. Additional nursing pillows or cushions can be used to support the arms or to take the weight of the baby once in mother’s arms. ‘Cross cradle’ (opposite arm cupping baby, including its head, to the breast being offered) and ‘Football’ (baby tucked in line with side of mother ‘s body on the same side of the breast that is being used) are two baby holds that often work well in the early days. Both leave a hand free for any adjustments or for mother to keep her own fluid levels up and have a drink. Your baby’s head needs supporting but covering the back of it with a hand will cause baby to reflexively pull its head back and off the breast. To give good head support, cup the base of the head in the web of mother’s hand between thumb and index finger. Baby can digest more easily with a body that isn’t in a twisted position. Line up baby’s head with its body consistently, as it will be more comfortable for baby.

Proper latching

You can help your baby to latch on to the breast by offering the nipple to baby level with its nose and waiting for a wide-open mouth, then offering both nipple and areola breast area. Nursing from the nipple alone will cause increased pain and physical trauma for mother and delay breastfeeding from becoming established. Baby doesn’t need to suck on the whole of the areola to be well latched on.

Emptying the breast

One breast should be emptied as much as possible before the other breast is offered. Start the next feed on the breast needing to be emptied: the same side if baby slept before finishing or the other side if it finished off what was in the breast.

Frequency of nursing

Babies should nurse at least six times over a 24-hour period in the first three days after birth. During these early feeds, both parties are learning and baby is filling its tiny stomach with approximately a teaspoon of concentrated and highly nutritious yellowish colostrum each time. Once milk ‘comes in’ around about day four (maybe later after a Cesarean section birth), feeds of at least 30 minutes will increase to 8-12 over 24 hours.

Caring for your breasts

Breasts are subjected to tremendous friction from all that sucking. To help your breasts remain comfortable and dry between feeds, be sure to let your breasts air dry before placing them back in a bra with dry breast pads. Lanolin is a natural product, which can be applied to sooth the nipple and is not known to be harmful to the feeding infant. At times breasts become overwhelmingly firm, especially before the milk supply and demand from baby becomes synchronized. Relief can be found from cooling your breasts with ice packs or chilled cabbage leaves and expressing a little milk by hand, especially if your nipple and areola seem too swollen for baby to latch on. Do not pump when your breasts are firm and engorged; it will only cause more milk to be produced in the days ahead.   Photo by Ozgur POYRAZOGLU via Flickr

About the Author

A former energy market analyst, Catherine found a passion for perinatal education after the birth of her daughter. She started with one-on-one breastfeeding support in her community in Canada and went on to be responsible for public breastfeeding clinics as well as working in the maternity ward at the local hospital. Also offering services as a doula and childbirth educator, she specializes in breastfeeding support.
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