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Getting breastfeeding off to a good start

Feb 27, 2020

Humans have been breastfeeding for millennia but for many people, it doesn’t come easily. Some research has shown that only one in three mothers are meeting their breastfeeding goals. Too many women find themselves struggling and end up weaning their babies sooner than they had hoped to.

So how come something that is natural, doesn’t come easily?

Today many people enter motherhood without having seen birth or breastfeeding first hand. So, young women don’t get a chance to see what to do and how it works. Breastfeeding is a learned skill that requires a lot of support, and encouragement on a societal level.

 

We need a support network

A newborn baby will likely want to feed every 2-3 hours and can take anywhere from 10-60 minutes to have a full feed. Many are surprised to learn how many hours a day a new mother will spend feeding her baby.

The new family benefits highly from receiving extra support, particularly during those early weeks. It’s wise to build your village before you birth so you can get help with cooking, cleaning and child-minding (if you have other kids). This will allow time for bonding, rest and proper recovery so that you can more successfully breastfeed your baby.

Anthropologist Dana Raphael discovered that breastfeeding actually requires the support of the whole culture in order to work. Traditionally this support would have come from family and friends but today we are seeing care being offered by postpartum professionals. People that have an intrinsic understanding of the physical and emotional needs of newborn mothers.

 

Setting yourself up for success

Skin to skin immediately after birth will give the baby a chance to initiate that first latch. Ideally you and your baby have uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact for at least an hour after birth. They will likely initiate the ‘breast crawl’ around 30-60 minutes following birth. Baby-led attachment is a fantastic introduction to breastfeeding.

Skin to skin contact also helps the baby to feel calmer, stabilise their temperature, breathing, heart rate and regulate blood sugar levels. To help enhance the benefits, make sure you aren’t wearing any fragrances so baby gets used to your natural smell and can easily seek out your breasts.

 

Remember demand effects supply

Your baby suckling will have a direct impact on supply. Feeding on demand will help your body to get the signals of how much milk to make. It can take six weeks to establish milk supply, so keep feeding as much as your baby wants.

 

How to encourage milk let-down

  • Try to find a quiet and relaxed place where you can be in a comfortable position for feeding
  • Try feeding after having a shower or bath as warmth helps let-down
  • Gently massage your breasts and nipples
  • Focus on your baby
  • Remember to breathe and relax your shoulders

 

Natural suggestions for promoting milk supply

  • Drink lots of water
  • Enjoy herbal teas with milk boosters like fennel, fenugreek, alfalfa, goat’s rue and nettle
  • Eat nourishing foods and include things like barley and brewers yeast
  • Know how to properly attach your baby to the breast
  • Get support

 

Seek help if you need more support

There are many great resources available to help you get breastfeeding off to a good start and for support along the way. The Australian Breastfeeding Association and La Leche League International are great places to start. You can also search for local breastfeeding meet-ups in your area. For one-on-one support, try searching for midwives, breastfeeding counsellors and lactation consultants in your local area.

Do you want to feel more confident about birth?

Download this free natural birth checklist that covers practical tips and natural suggestions for the three stages of labor. Start feeling more confident about your birth plan.

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