Here are our top tips for getting off to the best breastfeeding start:
1. Learn hand expression
Did you know that some mothers produce more milk through hand expression than through pumping?
Breast massage and hand expression can help increase your milk production in the first few days after giving birth, and lets you see your amazing body at work making golden colostrum (the first milk) for your baby.
In the first few days, just a little goes a long way. Your newborn baby’s stomach starts out the size of a marble so just a teaspoon of super-food colostrum at a feeding fills it up.
2. Put your baby skin-to-skin
Your baby is born ready to nurse and craving skin-to-skin contact.
Putting an unwrapped baby on your bare skin in the first hour after birth awakens the nursing instinct, and you may find that your baby will latch by itself.
Weighing can wait; most tests can be done while your baby is resting on you. Even if you have a c-section, ask for the baby to be placed on your upper chest. Skin-to-skin is good for dad and caregivers too; it releases feel-good hormones.
If your supply dips during your breastfeeding journey, try a “nurse-in” where you spend lots of time skin to skin with your baby. A warm bath with your baby on your chest can also help “reset” your nursing relationship and boost your supply.
3. Donate your extra milk
If you find that you are a good producer, contact your local milk bank to see if you can donate your milk to a premature or sick baby in the NICU. Milk banks are a little like blood banks in that they carefully screen donors; milk is safely processed and shipped to NICUs where it lowers the risk of infection and deadly diseases.
Due to stress and other conditions, not all mothers of preemies can make milk right away and donor milk can bridge the gap. Your milk can be lifesaving for the 1 in 9 babies that are born premature.
Bettina Forbes, Co-Founder, Best for Babes, [email protected]