Breastfeeding tips

Sheryl and her son William have a great breastfeeding routine, but it was something they had to learn together. In this video Sheryl shares her experience and tips.

Left breast or right?

  • Whichever breast mum starts with, the important thing to remember is that she shouldn’t swap breasts in the middle of a feed unless her breast is empty and her baby is still hungry
  • This is because the foremilk comes first which is for baby’s thirst and the hind milk comes second which is rich in fat to satisfy hunger; if mums switch breasts too much during a feed the baby may only get the foremilk and not the hind milk

Late-night feeding

Feeds in the early hours can be hard for mums to get used to. Once a routine is established (usually about 6 weeks), expressing milk is an option which can help get the partner involved in late-night feeds to support mum if she needs it. If mum expresses some milk in the morning and then keeps it in the fridge it will be ready to use for the late-night feed. However, feeding at night is important as the milk production hormones are highest at this time so this will help with mum’s milk supply.

Expressing HELPSHEET

Breastfeeding in public

  • At first, mums may be nervous about breastfeeding in public
  • Wearing tops that open at the front and a scarf over her shoulder and breast can make it easier and more discrete
  • Once a mum is used to breastfeeding in public, she’ll find she has much more freedom
  • Alternatively she could plan trips around her baby’s usual feeding time or take expressed milk with her

Is baby getting enough?

  • A well-fed baby is a happy baby
  • Signs that a baby is feeding well are weight gain and plenty of wet and dirty nappies – in the first few weeks, a baby should get through around six nappies a day
  • If a mum is concerned she can speak to her midwife or health visitor who will be able to see if baby is latching on well and will check the baby’s weight

Establishing a routine

  • In the beginning, feeding times are very much to the baby’s schedule – this can be anything between eight and 12 times a day – but soon a routine will be established that suits both mum and baby
  • In the meantime, mum should never be afraid to ask friends and family to help around the house, and use that time to rest and build up her energy

Nurture your nipples

  • Cracked or sore nipples are quite common but can be relieved with nipple cream
  • Other ways to prevent cracked nipples are for mum to express extra milk after feeding, rub it into her nipple and then let it dry naturally; breast pads can also help – it’s important that they are changed regularly

Expressing HELPSHEET

Mastitis

  • About one in 10 women get mastitis – this is an inflammation of the breast and can cause symptoms that feel like flu such as chills, fever and aches as well as making areas of the breast painful, red and sore
  • It is important for mum not to worry; she should be advised to visit her GP who can prescribe an antibiotic that’s safe to take when breastfeeding
  • Continuing to breastfeed can also help to lessen the pain as this can unblock the milk ducts; mum should massage any lumps towards the nipple as she feeds, get lots of rest and drink plenty of water

Mastitis HELPSHEET

Breast tenderness

  • Sometimes mum will produce more milk than her baby needs leaving her breasts feeling full, heavy and tender – this is called ‘engorgement’
  • It can be uncomfortable for mum and make it hard for her baby to latch on
  • Expressing a little milk before feeding can help a baby latch on, as can feeding the baby regularly
  • Mum should also check that her bra isn’t too tight and is still providing good support

Blocked ducts

  • A blocked milk duct will make the breast feel hard and lumpy
  • To soften it, mum can place a warm flannel on her breast or take a warm shower
  • Feeding ‘on demand’ and massaging the lump towards the nipple when breastfeeding can also help
  • If no improvement is seen having followed the tips here, mum should be advised to visit her GP who can, if necessary, prescribe an antibiotic that’s safe to take when breastfeeding

Milk flowing too fast?

  • If the milk flows quickly – some mums produce a jet – it will make it hard for a baby to feed
  • A simple solution is to express a little bit of milk just before feeding

Falling asleep

  • Some babies drop off to sleep mid-feed and then want to be fed again a little while later which can mean they aren’t taking the filling, nutrient-rich hind milk
  • One tip is to tickle the baby’s feet while feeding or remove a layer of clothing to ensure they are not too warm and sleepy while feeding