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

And you can read more about breastfeeding and even get in touch with an expert on the HSE website

Plus here is a link to a PDF of the book Breastfeeding – a good start in life

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