Preparing to breastfeed: 10 things breastfeeding experts want you to know
HSE National Breastfeeding Week runs from 1st to 7th October.
If you are currently pregnant or have just given birth, and want to breastfeed your baby, know that you are giving them the absolute best and healthiest start in life that you can – and that it is a really beautiful experience.
However, knowledge is power, so it can help to be aware that it doesn't come as easy to everyone as it does to some.
But, as with most things – preparation and research are key when you want to succeed at something, which is why we have rounded up 10 seriously helpful tips from experts who themselves have breastfed babies – and helped others do the same.
Here are 10 breastfeeding tips to share with every new mum you know:
Top ten breastfeeding tips
1. Prepare before your baby arrives
Get information about breastfeeding before you give birth. Attending antenatal classes, talking to your midwife, and visiting a breastfeeding support group near you will help prepare you for breastfeeding.
2. Correct positioning and attachment
This is also known as getting a good ‘latch.’ Positioning and attachment is the most important way to prevent discomfort and ensure your baby is feeding well. Your midwife or public health nurse can help you try different breastfeeding positions and give you advice.
3. Ask for help
Support is important for all mothers in the early weeks after their baby is born. Partners, family and friends can help in many practical ways such as changing the baby, cooking and housework.
4. Get comfortable
You should feel comfortable while breastfeeding. In the beginning, you may feel discomfort at the start of a feed. When your baby is attached deeply to your breast, this temporary tenderness should reduce after the first couple of weeks.
5. Relax and be patient
Once you and your baby have learned the skills of breastfeeding, it becomes easier every day. Try to focus on one breastfeed at a time and remember every day of breastfeeding makes a positive difference for your baby.
6. Eat well and stay hydrated
Breastfeeding mothers need to eat a healthy, varied diet and keep hydrated. Your partner and family can help out by preparing nutritious meals and snacks.
7. Follow your baby’s lead
There’s lots of information out there about newborn routines and feeding schedules. When you are trying to establish breastfeeding, following your baby rather than the clock is key. As you get to know your baby’s cues for feeding and comfort, you will settle into your own rhythm together.
8. Know that your baby is getting enough milk
A common worry among new mothers is whether their baby is getting enough milk. By knowing how many wet and dirty nappies you should expect, you can tell if your baby is getting what they need.
9. Take care of yourself
Let your partner, family and friends help you to take care of yourself and your baby. If you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, talk to your partner, your family and your public health nurse or GP.
10. Do your best
It can be a stressful and emotional time if your breastfeeding experience is not as you had hoped it would be. Motherhood is a steep learning curve and things often work out differently than you planned. Trying to breastfeed is something to be proud of, whether your journey is for one day, one week, or 6 months and beyond.
National Breastfeeding Week takes place from 1st to 7th October.