In my role as a Parent and Baby Coach, I often work with Mum’s who are really struggling to get a grips with breastfeeding. In this blog I point out some of the common problems with milk supply and how to make sure that your baby gets a good start with breastfeeding….
Your baby is born with a need to feed – as soon as your baby arrives you should put the baby straight to your breast and start that natural reflex that is for your baby to suck. This triggers your brain into realising that it needs to produce milk and your body will start to do all the necessary things to get your milk supply going.
In the early days, often parents are told to put the baby to the breast whenever it is crying and whilst this is true to some extent, it is also really important to understand that your baby needs to be properly sucking to create a supply and demand for breast milk rather than just be attached to the breast regardless of if he is sucking or not. A baby that sucks for 30 seconds and then starts suckling (using your nipple like a dummy) will not demand as good a milk supply from your body as a baby who sucks properly. This is a skill that can be hard to recognise from the beginning, but as you get more confident you can start to recognise the signs that baby is feeding well.
Signs that a baby is SUCKING:
-You may be able to hear your baby gulping
-Your baby opens wide as he is put on to the breast
-You see milk in and around your baby’s mouth if you pull him away
-You can hear you baby swallowing
-You can see the throat muscle moving up and down as the baby drinks
-Baby gains weight well and comes off the breast on his own
Some babies appear to be feeding and actually are just snoozing away, so once you think your baby has stopped showing signs of sucking properly, it is useful to take baby off of the breast and wind him. This process often wakes baby up and makes him realise that he is still hungry. If he is still sleepy at this point, try changing his nappy and putting him down on a towel or soft blanket on the floor -this might seem a mean thing to have to do but the more strict you are with baby’s feeding to begin with, the better your supply will become. A baby who is nestled into Mummy’s arms and cosy is a lot less likely to wake up and want to feed than a baby who has been put down on their own and will soon wake up!
If your baby has fed well, the chances are your baby will then sleep well. Establishing a good milk supply can also do wonders for setting up babies sleep in the early days. A full baby will usually sleep – so if your baby is not settling and will not come off the breast, it is time to think about whether you have enough milk. In this instance, pumping after each feed will help increase your milk supply, as will drinking 3 litres of water a day, eating well (oats are meant to be great for increasing milk supply) and taking Fenugreek capsules. If your baby is suckling rather than sucking then this will not help your milk supply or for that matter your nipples – so seek professional help if you are worried about whether your baby is feeding or not, but most importantly – try and relax. Mothers who are stressed produce less milk than those who are relaxed so it is important to give yourself a break and get as much shut eye as possible in the early days.