Breastfeeding is still the best way to feed your baby. Maybe you are planning to breast feed your baby but not sure how to start? Perhaps you're already breastfeeding but running into problems.
Latch on correctly
Make sure baby is latched on correctly. If baby is getting frustrated and the breastfeeding action overly hurts then the chances are that baby is in-correctly attached to your breast. Our first baby was never latched on correctly, the result being that my wife got incredibly sore nipples and had to stop breastfeeding after 3 weeks (including one week 'rest' using and electric breast pump' - see below). If you have absolutely any doubt whether you are doing it correctly ask your midwife or health visitor.
Stick with breastfeeding
At least early on its important to only breast feed your baby, do not mix and match their feeds with bottled food. The feeding action drinking from a bottle is very different (unless your nipples are 2 inches long - no letters or pictures please!) than latching on to a breast. After a few weeks when baby is firmly established for breastfeeding its OK, but until then our experience - which was a bad one with our first child - is stick with direct breastfeeding only.
Electric breast pump
Electric breast pumps are in theory fast, lightweight and easy to use. They can be used to express spare milk so that the mom can have a break from breastfeeding - maybe even a sleep - whilst someone else, i.e. dad, can feed the new baby. The problem is that many of them are worse than useless. My wife's experience that the cheaper ones made her very sore and extracted little milk - at a time when our little one only had to look at her and milk squirted across the room. We rented a more expensive unit from our local midwife, this had proper 'pumping action' as opposed to a vacuum cleaner action and produced plenty of milk, without making her sore. Still many people use cheaper electric breast pumps with no problems.
Manual breast pump
At least with a manual pump you can control the rhythm of the sucking action a little better. Our experience is that manual pumps are quite tiring to use and take time when you have little anyway between the 2 hourly cycle of feeding, winding , changing and sleeping.
Breast milk storage
Plastic bags from the supermarket don't tend to work well here as they have holes in the bottom. You can pick up seal able sterilised bags that allow you to freeze spare milk for future use - like telling the grandparents where it is as you go out for a break, or another sleep!
Nipple cream is an essential item and can make the difference, especially in the first few weeks, between continuing breastfeeding and giving it up. The two main ones my wife tried were Camillosan and Lansinoh. Both were very good, but she found the Lansinoh (made with pure lanolin) to be the best.
In theory these devices protect your nipples during breastfeeding, especially if they have become sore because of incorrect breastfeeding action. However, a word of warning is that they can re-enforce an incorrect action as the restrict the baby from getting it mouth fully around. In fact they tend to encourage a nibbling action similar to that which bottle feeding babies have.
V-shaped nursing pillow
A nursing pillow will help reduce the strain on your arms and shoulders while you're nursing. Good support is very important as you'll get tired after feeding baby continuously.
Try to absorb milk to protect clothing during breastfeeding. You can buy washable and disposable breast pads. When in very heavy milk production you can expect to use a pair nearly every breast feed.
This can take a long process. Feeds usually only take between 10-30 minutes, but the whole process of breastfeeding, changing and re-settling baby can take hours. Having some interesting distractions at hand is essential, especially for that 4am feed.
Relax whilst breastfeeding
Baby can sense if you are getting stressed. This will cause he / she to tense up and makes the whole breastfeeding process much harder.
Giving up breastfeeding
If you really aren't getting on with breastfeeding - usually due to soreness and discomfort - then do not feel an inadequate mother. Yes, there is no doubt that breastfeeding is best, but at your baby needs consistent sustenance and if having a full belly of formula milk makes baby happy then that is more important. If baby is contented so will you be. We gave up at 2am one night, after our first daughter had been up most of the night. One trip to the all-night supermarket and 4 oz of formula later she was content and asleep - and my wife was happy for this first time in days. With our second daughter she got latched on properly from the start and my wife had no problems with soreness (she used Lansinoh though) or frustrated baby syndrome.
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"thank you i found your advice useful.with my first child i only breast fed for eight weeks this time i am determined to carry on for as long as i can, i was concerned as my baby could latch on for as little as 10 minutes but after reading your article it has put my mind at rest, and feed on demand is the way to go so forget trying to do things on time and listen to your baby, and remember you are in control, not the mother in law!!!!!!!!!"