first time breastfeeders
Feeding

Tips for first time breastfeeders

Mother-of-three and blogger Laura Doyle offers up some advice for first time breastfeeders. 

Are you planning on breastfeeding but not sure what to expect? Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby, but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience a few challenges along the way. With the right help and advice you can make it through and continue to breastfeed as long as you want to. Here are my five top tips, for new mums planning to breastfeed.

Try to forget about any routine

The ‘rooming in’ period is essential for a successful breastfeeding journey. Remember you are learning to breastfeed and so is baby. Every baby is a different breastfeeding experience and try to remember that your baby has never done this before either. It can be difficult at first to get used to baby feeding at non-specific intervals. Or not knowing exactly how much your baby is getting at each feed, but try not to think too much about when your baby is feeding and for how long. Let your baby set the pace.

Keep in mind, however, that there is no set routine when breastfeeding. Your baby will nurse when they are hungry.

Trust your instincts, and your milk supply

As women, our bodies are designed to feed our babies. And our maternal instincts are exceptional, so use them. Let your instincts and your baby lead the way with breastfeeding. If something just doesn’t feel right have it checked straight away. There are lactation consultants in every maternity hospital and they are amazing. They know their stuff and they are only delighted to help.

Get all the help you can before you leave the hospital. If your gut is questioning your baby’s latch or the position you are holding baby in, ask a midwife to watch you do a feed. As far as milk supply is concerned, you will always have enough milk to feed your baby. It is a rare case where medically a mum may not have enough milk, but it’s not half as common as you may have been told.

It might hurt a little

Let’s be completely honest, at the beginning it hurts. Breastfeeding encourages your uterus to contract a little bit quicker than usual. These ‘after-birth’ pains are no joke! But they only last a couple of days. Your nipples are also new to this breastfeeding experience and it will take a while for them to toughen up – but they will. In the meantime, get some nipple cream or some Multi-mam compresses. They are life savers. With each feed, as baby latches count to 10 until the initial pain subsides, knowing with each feed it will get a little easier.

first time breastfeeders

Don’t compare

All babies grow at different rates. They put on weight and lose weight all for different reasons and no baby is the same as another. As mothers we love to compare babies but in reality there is no true comparison from baby to baby. Remember this: If your breastfed baby is not putting on weight as quickly as another breastfed baby at the same age, it really doesn’t have very much reflection on how they are feeding. Unless there is a significant loss of weight and confirmed by your GP try not to worry. Remember to never compare your baby with others. All you need to worry about is wet and dirty nappies. Once you are nursing and your baby is having wet and dirty nappies you are flying it.

Join a group

One of the best tips I could give a new mum about to begin her breastfeeding journey is to join a group. It helps a lot to see other women who are nursing and to watch how they do it. Its also great to be able to speak to other women who are in the exact same situation as you. It is very healthy to be able to talk.

Talk about breastfeeding, about your baby, or about anything at all. But it is a set time in the week when you can get dressed, get out of the house and meet other mums in the exact same situation as you. There are breastfeeding support groups in every area or La Leche League meetings. Ask your Public Health Nurse for more information.

Check out Laura’s blog at: lovelifeandlittleones.blogspot.ie

More like this:

How to begin breastfeeding your baby
Breastfeeding advice: leaky boobs and oversupply
Breastfeeding in Ireland

ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

A
Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.