How To Breast Feed | Introduction
Knowing how to breast feed is a skill that will take time for both you and your baby to get the hang of, so be patient and don’t be afraid to ask for help on how to breast feed. Remember, you will get tonnes of advice and differing opinions on how to breast feed, so seek out those who are trained professionals and follow their advice. For the purpose of this article on how to breast feed, we have chosen to refer to the baby as a girl!
This article forms a part of our About Breastfeeding Centre, and we have many important pages for you to read! So make sure you watch out for the ‘NEXT PAGE’ links at the bottom and click through to find out more information relating to how to breast feed!
How To Breast Feed | Things To Know First
Before we get started on how to breast feed, there are a few things you need to be aware of about breastfeeding first.
- What goes in must come out
Remember: what goes in must come out. If at around 1 week old you are changing 6 or more wet nappies with pale yellow urine and around 4 soiled nappies containing a watery yellow poo with cornflake like bits in it, you can be reassured that your baby is getting a good amount of milk. If your baby is not wetting a minimum of six nappies a day you should consult your healthcare professional. At around 4 to 6 weeks of age the number of dirty nappies you’ll be changing will decrease often suddenly and quite dramatically. A healthy exclusively breastfed 2 month old baby may go for as long as 1-2 weeks without a bowl motion. As long as your baby is content and still interested in feeds this is not something to be concerned about.
Engorgement refers to the swelling of the breast tissue and often occurs when your milk first comes in. It can be painful and cause slight temperatures. The best way to treat and prevent engorgement is to empty the breast frequently and completely by breastfeeding. If this is not possible then hand expressing or using a breast pump may help, but be careful not to over stimulate the breast and increase milk production, worsening the problem. Other helpful measures include massage, or using an icepack (a clean nappy or sanitary pad soaked in water and then placed in the freezer can be very effective) or taking a warm shower and allowing the water to flow onto the breast.
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast and is one of the first things you’ll about on how to breast feed. Look out for symptoms including a hard, red, tender and swollen area of the breast. Some women describe it as a ‘hotspot.’ You may also experience fevers, muscle aches, chills and just generally feeling unwell. If you are concerned that you may have mastitis you should contact your healthcare professional immediately.
- Handy hint:
The time between feeds is counted from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next feed. For example if your baby fed at 11am for 35 minutes and then again at 1pm then the time between feeds would be counted as 2 hours.
- How long should a feed last?
During the early stages of breastfeeding it can take between 20-45 min. Newborns are often too sleepy to feed for this amount of time and therefore want to feed very often, known as cluster feeding. As your baby becomes older and stronger she will become more efficient and may be able to take a full feed from each breast in as little as 5-10 minutes. It is best to allow your baby to ‘actively feed’ for as long as she desires.
- Handy hint:
Make sure your baby is ‘actively feeding’. She may have her eyes closed and take short breaks but she should not simply fall asleep with the breast still in her mouth. You need to hear and see her active feeding (cheeks moving and obvious swallowing) or you should remove her from the breast to avoid damaging your nipple. Do not allow her to use your breast as a dummy!
- What if it hurts?
The initial latch (especially in the first few days of establishing feeding) can be uncomfortable. If after approximately 30 seconds you are not feeling comfortable then remove her from the breast and try again. Do this by placing your clean pinky finger at the edge of her mouth and gently sliding it between her mouth and your breast. This breaks the suction without damaging the breast. Do not simply pull your breast away from your baby. It will hurt and you may end up blistering the nipple. Breastfeeding should not be painful once established. If it is, then you should try to improve the latch and check for other problems. Continuing feeding when you are in pain could cause further problems so consult your doctor, midwife or lactation consultant to try to resolve the issue.
- Handy hint:
Try using a lanolin-based product specially designed to sooth sore nipples. There are several available at supermarkets or chemists. There are products that were designed after special research into breastfeeding, and when used often they are particularly effective when first establishing feeding.
We hope you enjoyed this introduction on how to breast feed! If you’re done, please leave us your own tips on how to breast feed in the comments section below! Otherwise please continue on with our About Breastfeeding Centre.
Although the information on this page includes well thought-out, educated opinions, and all care has been taken putting it together, it is intended to be a guide only, and is NOT intended to be medical or other professional advice. The information contained herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, and you should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional on all issues relating to you, your baby or otherwise. We, any of our related entities, the author, or any other person or entity associated with the creation of this page or website does not accept any liability for any loss of any nature whatsoever arising out of them, and none of those parties shall be held liable to any extent whatsoever for any such loss.