By BMSG Editorial Team
This is a mini-series that we have started to offer mums and their families a guide on how to initiate breastfeeding right from birth. Look out for a new part every month!
Are you pregnant and worried about the approaching journey ahead? Are you still unsure if breastfeeding is the right choice for you and your baby? Welcome to BMSG’s Breastfeeding Your Newborn Baby blog series. Here, we will cover common topics that expecting parents have about kick-starting breastfeeding. In Part 1, we will talk about the following:
- Benefits of breastfeeding
- Colostrum, The Liquid Gold
- How to get started – Skin to Skin
- Effects of Poor Attachment
Benefits of Breastfeeding
So you have heard all the rave about breastfeeding. But how magical is breastmilk really?
Breastmilk offers many benefits for your baby AND you:
Breastmilk is protection for the baby. When a baby suckles, the germs present on baby’s saliva triggers the production of antibodies in the mother’s milk which she receives right away to protect her.
Colostrum: The Liquid Gold
The mother’s first milk is called Colostrum. Often referred to as liquid gold, colostrum is technically your baby’s first vaccination. It is present is very small amounts and sometimes cannot be seen, but the first suckles of a baby on the mother’s breasts is crucial in helping baby get this very important compound.
The mature white milk that we are more familiar with kicks in only between day 3 to 7.
Credits: Australian Breastfeeding Association
Some mums also express out their colostrum into a syringe and feed to their babies if they are separated. Because it is present in such small amounts, hand expressing it works alot better than using a breast pump as it tends to stick to the sides of the bottles or pump parts.
Getting Started: Skin-to-Skin
Did you know breastfeeding starts right from the moment your baby is born?
Having your baby skin to skin with you has been proven to help baby regulate their body temperature better and makes them calmer. It is also amazing to know that skin-to-skin helps to stimulate the mother’s milk supply.
When you have had an unmedicated birth and baby is well, and placed on the mother’s abdomen, many babies will attempt the breastcrawl. It is believed that the nipples and areolas of a mother who has just given birth emit a scent that baby recognises and is attracted to.
While it is not necessary for baby to do the breastcrawl and you can simply offer your breasts, the breastcrawl is a sight to behold and teaches us how babies are simply built to recognise their form of sustenance right from birth.
Getting the Right Latch
So your baby is at your breast. Now what?
We know that a newborn’s strongest sucking reflex is found within an hour of birth. This is why most hospitals avoid separating mother and child within the first hour of birth. We recommend that you take advantage of the strong reflex to teach your baby to latch. Note that breastfeeding is a learned skill and needs constant practice, both by you AND your baby.
Frequent feedings and following baby’s cues are strong indicators of breastfeeding success.
Picture Credit: Australian Breastfeeding Association
Here are some pointers for a good latch:
- Get into a comfortable position with some pillows behind your head and up your back.
- Choose a position that you like (more on this in our next series!). Most mothers will choose the laid back position. Let baby lie on your chest in close proximity to your breasts. Babies usually awaken at the scent of your breasts.
- Tickle the sides of baby’s mouth with the nipples and wait for baby’s mouth to open up wide before baby gets a good mouthful of breast tissue. You can tell this by making sure that most or a substantial amount of areola is within baby’s mouth.
- If baby’s latch is not optimal, unlatch (insert a finger into baby’s mouth and break the suction) and try again. Some mums also tug down on baby’s chin so that more of the breast can be taken in.
- When your are comfortable, continue to breastfeed and wait for baby to unlatch on her own.
Signs of a Good Latch
How do you know that you are doing it right? Below is a checklist of what you can observe from your baby after she has latched.
- Chin touching breast
- Mouth wide open
- Lower lip curled back
- Cheeks full and rounded
- More areola visible above top lip
- Rhythmic suck/swallow with pauses
- Feeding is pain-free
Effects of Poor Attachment
So what happens if you continue with a poor latch?
Thus, it is crucial to get a good latch right from the start to ensure that your breastfeeding journey is comfortable for you and your baby.
In Part 2, we will talk about how much is enough for your baby especially during the crucial first month. We will also talk more about other positions that you can use to breastfeed your baby.
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