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Breastfeeding tips from Clare Byam-Cook

This is a guest post from an expert on breastfeeding, Clare Byam-Cook.


Breastfeeding is not always as easy as everyone makes out so don’t be discouraged if you experience difficulties in the early days when you are trying to get breastfeeding established. Here are some tips to help you get started:-

Take time to get breastfeeding established. Don’t overdo the visitors in the early days and make sure you are resting, eating healthily and drinking plenty of fluids to help milk production. 

Observe how your baby feeds and  learn the difference between effective sucking (slow, deep and rhythmic) which means he will be getting milk and ineffective sucking (shallow and  irregular), which means he will be getting very little. 

 Settling after feeds. When a baby has had a full feed he should fall into a contented sleep and stay asleep when you put him into his own bed. If he keeps crying every time you put him down, he is probably still hungry.

When feeding is going well, your baby  have plenty of wet nappies and gain the correct amount of weight.

Breastfeeding should be pain-free, right from the outset.  Sore nipples are mainly caused by bad latching, thrush or tongue-tie. An experienced midwife or feeding counsellor will be able to diagnose the problem and/or show you how to correct your latch so that it no longer hurts when he sucks. 

 If your baby can’t latch on, give him a helping hand. If your baby is not opening his mouth wide and/or you have very large breasts, you can help him latch on by using the balls of your fingers to squeeze your breasts gently on either side of the areola. This should make your nipple protrude and make latching easier. (As demonstrated on my DVD and in my book)

Don’t be afraid to try breastfeeding aids.  Nipple shields will often help with sore nipples or latching problems and you can use a breast pump to express milk so that others can help with feeding – many Dads enjoy giving the last feed of the day with a bottle, while you benefit from an early night.

Identify problems and seek help. If your baby is crying a lot and/or not settling after feeds, don’t assume this is part-and-parcel of breastfeeding but seek medical advice. It might be that breastfeeding is going wrong, or it could be that your baby is suffering from a problem such as reflux, which requires treatment

 Enjoy breastfeeding! When breastfeeding goes well it is a wonderful way to feed a baby, both emotionally and nutritionally. But if breastfeeding is going badly and nobody is able to give you the help you need to improve the situation, you should not feel a failure if you give up. The most important thing is that you and your baby are happy and thriving, and that he gets enough milk.

Clare Byam-Cook. 

Author of “What to Expect when You’re Breastfeeding……. and What if you Can’t?”.

DVD ‘Breastfeeding without Tears’

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