The idea of breastfeeding can be daunting for a first time mum, but it’s worth remembering that the impulse to feed is a natural one for babies.
According to Nicola O’Byrne, President of the Association of Lactation Consultants, your little one will arrive equipped with all the skills they need to get going. Here are five things you may not know about breastfeeding:
1. Babies are simply amazing. If left on their mother’s tummy they will crawl up to mum’s breast and self attach. It’s the most amazing process to watch and requires patience from the helpers – it can be hard not to help the baby along its path to self attaching!
2. A newborn baby has a very strong sense of smell. During skin-to-skin after birth, your baby leaves a trail of amniotic fluid around the breast. When they breastfeed again the odour is still there – it reminds them what to do! Amazing!
3. Babies use their hands to breastfeed. Their hands are their GPS system, they tell the baby where they are spatially. In fact, it’s best not to cover your baby’s hands or swaddle your baby when they are latching or breastfeeding. It confuses them and makes a natural process more difficult.
4. Babies have a strong rooting reflex for six weeks after being born. Some babies will latch onto anything. Watch this video on hunger cues and see what babies will latch onto!
5. Newborn babies generally breastfeed with their eyes closed. They use their hands, face, cheeks and sense of smell to latch and attach. Try to start to feed your baby when they are waking from a deep sleep (before they have realised they are hungry!). It can sometimes take a few tries to get it right.
A calm baby and mother will make those early days easier.
The Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland (ALCI) has been in operation for 25 years. For more details, visit the website.