If you have just started to try to breastfeed you’re doing the best thing for your baby. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry. Plenty of mums need practice and perseverance until they get the hang of it. Here, I’ll try to guide you through the first few steps.
Breast milk is the best food available to your baby. Babies who are breastfed from birth are much less likely to be ill in the first year of their life. Breast milk may help protect your baby from illnesses such as ; gastroenteritis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, eczema, ear and urinary tract infections. Its also possible that breastfeeding helps your baby stay healthy in the long term too.
It’s not just your baby who may benefit from breastfeeding. It’s good for you too. Its helps lower your chance of getting breast cancer before you reach your menopause. It can also help to protect you against ovarian cancer and weak bones (osteoporosis) in later life.
It is recommended that women feed only breast milk to their babies for the first six months of life. After your baby starts on solid food you can continue with breast feeding for the first year and beyond if you wish.
Breast milk is a complete food. It contains at least 400 nutrients as well hormones and disease fighting compounds. Its nutritional make-up even adjusts to your babies needs as they grow.
Perhaps more importantly, apart from the infection fighting, brain developing properties of your milk which no substitute can offer, breastfeeding helps in perhaps the most important way possible, by helping to build a very special bond between you and your baby.
Preparing to Breastfeed.
As long as you are healthy there is not much more you can do to prepare your body for breastfeeding. However, you can prepare your mind. Learn as much as you can before your baby is born and encourage your partner to learn about it too so that he can understand and support you.
How do I start Breastfeeding?
As feeds can take anything from 5 to 40 minutes find yourself a comfortable place and position. Atmosphere is important, especially when you are starting and still trying to get the hang of it.
If you are easily distracted by noise find somewhere quite. If you are easily bored you may want the TV or radio in the room if the feeding is going well. Try different places until you find the best place for you.
Hold your baby in a position that won’t make your arm and/or back ache. Have cushions or pillows to hand to support you and your baby. Many mums find that cradling a baby across their chest supported by a cushion works well
Get yourself and the baby in a relaxed position before you start feeding. Pay attention to how your breasts feel when your baby latches on. The baby should take in a large mouthful of breast tissue. If it hurts, gently break the suction by inserting your little finger between your baby’s gums and your nipple and try again. Once your baby latches on properly they won’t need any more help from you.
Is Breastfeeding Easy?
Some women adjust to breastfeeding easily but, many other new mums find it hard going. Remember, if your struggling you won’t be the only one. If you feel like giving up, or just want more advice, get in touch with a breastfeeding specialist. Your midwife might be a good starting point.
Breastfeeding takes practice. Look upon it as a skill that you will have to learn. You wouldn’t expect to be able to play an instrument without taking music lessons. Give yourself time to learn and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get it straightaway.
If it’s not going well tell yourself that it will get easier and keep in mind that any problems you have initially are likely to pass.
Jackie is a mother of two boys and designs Baby Shoes for The Baby Shoe Company. She writes for The Baby Care Blog.
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