Breastfeeding – the early days

Breastfeeding is normal. It’s normal like walking, rather than like breathing. Don’t get anxious if it takes you and your baby a few days to figure this breastfeeding out and make it work for you.

In the last weeks of pregnancy your breasts already be making colostrum – the concentrated first milk. Once your baby is born putting him skin to skin against your breast makes the most of his natural instinct to breastfeed. Ideally this is in the first hour after birth, but it can be any time in the first days and as often as you like.

Babies have tiny tummies so they need to take small amounts in frequent feeds. Colostrum is concentrated and rich in antibodies. It helps clear the meconium poo and gives your baby’s immune system a boost. Small quantities fit nicely in small tummies. After a few days your baby’s tummy capacity will have increased and so will the amount of milk available in your breasts. In the first few days your baby will need to feed anything from 10 to 12 times in 24 hours. Don’t worry this is perfectly normal. It is common for babies to lose some weight in the first days but they should be back to their birth weight by about two weeks old.

Helping your baby get a good latch on the breast is important. Sit as comfortably as possible, with pillows for support if you like. Hold your baby level with your breast with his tummy turned towards you and cuddled in close. Have him nose to nipple to encourage him to open his mouth wide and get a deep comfortable latch. Don’t be afraid to ask the midwives for help with these first feeds.

Many mothers find that going to a support group can be helpful. Breastfeeding rates have been low in Ireland for decades and some new mothers don’t have family and friends who have breastfed. Building a network of people who will support your choices and provide help and information will make it easier to navigate the early months of motherhood. If you can get along to a group before your baby is born it gives an opportunity to ask any questions you might have, and perhaps see some babies breastfeeding for the first time.

Here is a link to the breastfeeding support groups in County Donegal

http://parenthubdonegal.ie/services/job-listings/?search_keywords=breastfeeding+support+group&search_region=0&search_categories%5B%5D=

And you can read more about breastfeeding and even get in touch with an expert on the HSE website https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/child-health/getting-breastfeeding-off-to-a-good-start/your-babys-first-feed.html

Plus here is a link to a PDF of the book Breastfeeding – a good start in life https://www.healthpromotion.ie/hp-files/docs/HPM00367.pdf

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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