5 breastfeeding myths answered
Do I need to do anything to prepare my nipples for breastfeeding?
No you don’t need to do anything special to prepare your nipples for feeding during your pregnancy. It is advisable to wear a good supporting bra that is not underwired in pregnancy and after as a feeding bra. If you have inverted nipples there are products that can assist you during your last trimester to tease the nipple out such as nipple formers and nipple shields may aid with latch – seek support from your health professional.
If you are using nipple cream for tender and sore nipples such as PureLan these are hypoallergenic and are safe for baby to feed with. Check with the instructions for use. Remove any excess gently but avoid using soap, moisturisers, body lotions around the nipple and areola, and to use non perfumed body lotions on the breasts.
If I have a C-section or my baby is born early will I still be able to breastfeed?
Yes! Every healthy newborn when placed on the mother’s abdomen has the ability to find his mother’s breast and decide when to have his first breastfeed. If you have a planned caesarean you can have skin to skin immediately. Following an emergency C-section you can have skin to skin as soon as you are in the recovery room and feel well enough to hold your baby.
When your baby is born early or needs to go to special care your midwife will help you get breastfeeding started with both hand expressing if your baby cannot go to breast and with expressing by double electric breastpump. But rest assured, you’ll get there!
My newborn baby is feeding all the time, does that mean I am not making enough milk?
First of all, remember that baby’s stomach is very small. A newborn’s stomach is the size of a marble, so the small amount of colostrum a mother makes is plenty! You may find the diagram below helpful as an idea of how much milk your baby’ stomach can hold and as the days pass you will make more colostrum and usually around day3-5 your milk will come in.
See the image above. Image: Christian Bates Calming Colic, Katie Wickham RN BScN IBCLC via Babies First Lactation and Education
Here are some pointers on newborn feeding patterns:
- A newborn baby has a unique feeding pattern post birth, during the first week your baby is learning to breastfeed with lots of sucking, pausing and stimulation.
- Your baby’s feeding pattern may be short and often sometimes hourly this is normal and will settle.
- Generally speaking you will be advised to feed your baby when he is hungry, on average a new-born baby will feed between 8-12 times a day sometimes more. This is called feeding on demand and it is very important for growing your milk supply at the same pace as your baby’s needs increase. Your breastmilk supply will adjust to your baby’s appetite and growth rate.
- Your newborn should wake and feed at least twice between 12-6am don’t let your baby go more than 5 hours at this stage.
- Look at your baby’s nappies lots of wee and poo by day 5 your baby’s poo should soft paste brown and heavy with wee. Lots of poo means lots of milk.
Do you need to change how often you breastfeed your baby as they grow?
No you don’t. A breastfed baby will feed to meet his hunger and growth needs. Initially your baby’s tummy is very small and designed especially for small volumes of colostrum. As baby grows, his stomach expands to cope with mature milk that comes in around 14 days later. How much he feeds at a time is down to him; however what has recently been found is that the first week is critical for giving the milk cells in the breast the recipe for making milk and storage capacity. As your baby grows, again feeding time may vary, sometimes he may only want a power snack and other times both breasts, if he is more active he may wake up more frequently and when going through growth spurts may want frequent feeds. Remember human milk is for human babies and is easily digestible; formula is cow’s milk and is made up to have different proteins etc. to human milk.
Someone told me I need to feed from both breasts at every feed, is that true?
No, you don’t need to feed from both breasts at all times. Sometimes your baby may just be thirsty and other times he may want a three course meal. What is important is that you listen to your baby and your body’s needs. Feeding from the first breast you need to listen and see if you can hear your baby swallowing milk regularly, on average it takes your baby about seven minutes to feed from a breast but at other times your baby will pause and will stimulate the breast with his hands to trigger another milk ejection reflex. The longer he’s on the first breast the better he will drain the fat rich milk that comes as your feed progresses. If he is still rooting then offer the other breast after you feel that the first breast is soft.
If you switch from side to side your baby will be receiving a lot of foremilk – which has protein, carbohydrates and water but not as much fat. As these fat globules are bigger and heavier they take a little longer to travel down the ductal network in the breast. This can affect your baby’s growth because it is important that they get the fat rich milk. When expressing you can pump from both breasts but just be aware it takes approx. 45mins to start replenishing your milk supply after you finish a feed or pumping session.