Now that breastfeeding is established, you and your baby are becoming pros. We help you keep feeding for longer
In our feature on getting started with breastfeeding in the last issue (find it online) we showed you how to get going with your baby’s very first feed.
Now your baby is a few days or weeks old, your breast milk supply should have become established and will increase over those early weeks to accomodate the needs of your growing baby. The act of your baby latching on will stimulate milk producing cells, so try to start feeding as soon as you are able after birth – within the first hour if you can. This will stimulate the supply of the very first milk, colostrum. After that, feed whenever baby seems to be interested. Remember he has a tiny stomach, so it’s natural to feed little and often.
While it’s too early to think about getting into a routine (and be guided by your baby’s queues), this will help your breasts create nourishing milk as and when your baby needs it. Your baby loves the closeness feeding brings and although it may seem inconvenient, will often want to feed often during the night. Though it’s tempting to ask someone to offer expressed milk so you can sleep, feeding at night can boost your supply by avoiding a long gap between feeds.
Getting the hang of it
Once you have both got used to feeding, you’ll find that your breasts start to get really good at making milk and you should always have milk that is just the right amount and to the right consistency for your little one.
You’ll know that feeding your baby is going really well if:
- Your baby is putting on weight
- He is producing several wet and a few dirty nappies each day
- He’s feeding 8 to 12 times in 24 hours
- After feeds, your breasts feel softer
- He seems settled between feeds
Special care baby
If you are unable to breastfeed in the first couple of weeks – perhaps he’s
in the special care unit – you should express milk to be fed to your baby to help establish your supply for later, when you’ll be able to feed skin-to-skin.
Once feeding is well established, you may think about having a night out and later on, returning to work. You’ll need a breast pump to support your breastfeeding. Sioned Hilton, breastfeeding advisor with Medela, shares her tips for success.
“Your baby is the best aid to getting milk flowing, so try expressing from the left whilst feeding from the right, or vice versa. If you’re away from your baby, have a photo to hand; this also makes the milk flow better, strange as it may seem – it really works.
- Express when baby is most settled – usually during a mid-morning or mid- afternoon nap.
- Massage your breasts before and during pumping to encourage let-down and milk flow. Pumping from both breasts at the same time is proven to produce 18% more milk.
- Expressed milk can be stored in fridge for 3-5 days; freezer for 6 months.
- Wait until you have established breastfeeding if you want to express for your partner to feed baby.
- Research a pump to suit your needs.
- Your body’s very clever and works on supply-and-demand to ensure baby always has enough milk. Expressing won’t affect supply.
- Breastmilk contains 415 different proteins – amazing!
- Stem cells exist in breastmilk.
- Almost three-quarters of mums produce more milk with their right breast than with the left.
- Breastmilk educates baby on a great variety of tastes and flavours.
- Breastmilk is the ultimate all-in-one meal for your baby.
- Breastmilk adapts to your baby’s needs.
Good to know
If baby isn’t feeding well due to something like a tongue tie, or you can’t breastfeed due to their being in the SCBU, you can express.
Choosing a pump
Think about your plans. Returning to work? A lightweight, portable pump makes sense. Intend to express rarely? A hand powered version is fine. Twins or a baby with special needs? A double pump may work best for you.”