Help with Breast Feeding
I have been a breastfeeding consultant for many years and I know the last thing we need are breast feeding lessons for 11 year olds.( DailyMail Aug 2017)
The UK has one of lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, but why?
In the 1950’s, formula milk was promoted by the medical profession as ‘best for babies’, and most mothers came out of hospital bottle feeding. Breast feeding did not come back into fashion until the 1970’s.
Mothers from two generations are now unable to help their own daughters with feeding. Previously the art of breastfeeding was passed down through the generations with ‘tips‘ and help. Now it has to be learned again.-
Today’s guidelines from NICE insist mothers go home breastfeeding, even when they leave hospital within 24 hours of admission. Midwives doing the required home visit will carry out essential checks before having to rush off to their next client. Often the only advice is ‘keep putting baby to the breast’.
Mothers can despair when they see their baby is failing to thrive, with nobody to help.
Breast feeding commonly goes wrong during the first two weeks. There are ‘breastfeeding bullies’ who now demonise formula so much that a new mother is afraid to use it - thus her baby is admitted to hospital with dehydration. This leaves the mother feeling a failure with no confidence to carry on.
From about 4 weeks baby can have expressed milk, and this can be given in a bottle if necessary. We must stop telling mothers that only breast will do. It simply isn’t true!
Many women give up breast feeding in the first few days, and many more by 2 weeks. They jump from one piece of advice to another, and end up totally confused. I have often gone to help a new mother, only to find her tearful and saying” I don’t know what to do next
There are a few tools which can aid successful feeding.
(1) Double electric pump Ardo Calypso £135.00. It’s light and efficient, and can be used 24 hours after birth.
(2) Bottles and teats of various sizes.
(3) Sterilizing system. The easiest is a new bucket and Milton tablets. Items are sterile in 15 minutes, no rinsing needed.
(4) Nipple shields (Ardo M/L) are useful if you are sore or have a fast let down that frightens baby.
(5) A dummy. These have come to be criticised but are useful in the first few weeks. They are easy to eliminate if used correctly.
(6) Formula milk. Use the ready-made brands that come in 100ml cartons
A mother’s milk will come in between days 2-5. The first week is crucial for increasing milk supply. The body quickly responds to making milk and increases rapidly in volume by the end of the first week .If the milk is not taken off by the baby or breast pump, the supply quickly drops. Low milk supply is one of the biggest problems I come across. ‘Protect your milk supply’ is essential advice. Mothers should use a breast pump while sorting out problems. Breast milk can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days; or kept frozen for 4 months.
Your baby needs to be on the breast 8 times, in every 24 hours; 10mins per breast for the first 2-3 days, thereafter 20-30 minutes per breast. If you have a small, sleepy, or jaundiced baby who doesn’t suckle well or if you are not sure they are full, offer top-up of expressed or formula milk from a bottle. If full they will refuse it.. I have never had a problem with babies suckling at the breast, then being offered a bottle. Always give one bottle feed a day of expressed or formula milk to avoid problems later on.
All mothers want a contented baby. My feeling is that all babies will sense a contented mother. The best way to achieve this is to make sure that your baby is full. Snacking is to be avoided Aim for 8 feeds in a routine that suits you both - sometimes they might need to be woken for feeding. Breastfeeding cannot be learned from a book. When I am working with a new mother, I teach them everything I know, so she in turn can help others.
Carol Dighton; Maternity Nurse