Breastfeeding

Breast milk is a fantastic first food for your baby because it protects them from illness, which formula milk can’t do. It’s also so much easier in the middle of the night!

Did you know?

Your breast milk changes depending on what your baby needs. The more your baby drinks, the more your body will make, so you never run out.

What’s so great about breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding has a host of benefits for you and your baby:

“You don’t have to fiddle around boiling water in the middle of the night … you don’t have to leave your room." Sonja, mum of two

Benefits for you

  • Your risk of cancer lessens
  • No hassle to prepare - always ready
  • It's free
  • Helps your bones get stronger
  • Helps you lose baby weight

Benefits for your baby

  • Protects them from infection - hospital less likely
  • Less chance of being overweight
  • Less vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Allergies less likely

The first few days

Soon after your baby is born, they’ll want their first breastfeed. The first milk you make is called ‘colostrum’ and it’s thick and yellow. It’s packed full of goodness and protects your baby from illness. Their stomach is tiny so they’ll feed little and often.

About three days after birth, your breasts will fill up with regular breast milk. Your breasts may become
enormous for a few days but they’ll go down again. This can take longer if you have a caesarean.

Skin to Skin

Skin to skin means having your baby on you, their skin next to your skin. You can do this straight after the baby has been born regardless of the type of delivery you have had; even if you have had a caesarean section this should be made possible. Skin to skin has plenty of benefits; not only does it help for you (and your partner) to bond with your baby but it also helps to keep them warm which is really important just after they have been born. It can also help to regulate the baby’s heart rate, breathing rate and blood sugars. Additionally, it helps to promote successful breastfeeding.

If your baby is in the neonatal unit, ask the nurse about trying some skin to skin contact, they will be able to support you to do this.

Skin to skin is important longer term also; evidence shows that babies who have lots of skin to skin contact in the first year of life have improved physical growth and development particularly if they were born at a low birth weight.

The how-to of breastfeeding

  • Sit comfortably with your back supported
  • Hold your baby with their head and body in a straight line – ‘tummy to mummy’
  • Brush your baby's top lip or the base of their nose with your nipple, so they opens their mouth wide
  • Bring their wide open mouth to your breast so they get a good mouthful of breast (not just your nipple - that will hurt!)
  • When your baby comes off the first breast, offer the second.

See what a good latch looks like with this handy breastfeeding video from BabyCentre.

Top tip

When you’re out and about, wear a loose top. If you're worried about feeling exposed, you can tuck your baby under your top to breastfeed or drape a light baby blanket over you both as you feed your baby.

More on breastfeeding

You and your baby after the birth

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