Although breastfeeding is considered the ‘natural’ way to feed your baby, it certainly doesn’t come naturally to all of us and is a skill that needs to be learned. We know the basics of starting to breastfeed – put baby to breast and let feeding commence! However, you’ll soon become acquainted with terms such as ‘latching on’, ‘positioning’, ‘let down reflect’, ‘foremilk’ and ‘hindmilk’. It’s a short, but steep learning curve, but once you’ve mastered it, there are some huge advantages to breastfeeding for your baby and for you too.
Shortly after birth and during the first skin-to-skin contact with your baby he/she may automatically show signs of wanting to feed. With the midwife there to help you if necessary, the baby can be put to your breast and encouraged to start sucking straight away.
By spending time establishing breastfeeding, you are safe in the knowledge that you and your baby are not only benefiting from special one to one bonding time, but that you’re also giving your little one the best start in life; providing nourishment and protection from infections to the chest and ear, preventing the risk of eczema and other conditions as well as reducing the likelihood that your child will become obese as they grow older. For yourself, some of the benefits include lowering the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, using up to an additional 500 calories a day which will help to get your figure back more quickly and saving money and time.
Top Benefits of Choosing to Breastfeed
- your breast milk is perfectly designed for your baby
- breast milk protects your baby from infections and diseases
- breastfeeding provides health benefits for you (reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, obesity.
- breast milk on tap! Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, breast milk is available for your baby whenever your baby needs it, at the perfect temperature and with no need for sterilisers.
- breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby
- reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), childhood leukaemia, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease in adulthood
Breastfeeding Myth Busters!
More and more women in the United Kingdom are breastfeeding their babies and many of the myths surrounding it can be dismissed. For instance:
- Infant formulas are the same as breast milk – not true
Breast milk is a living substance with natural antibodies, enzymes and hormones that is produced by you at the right temperature without the need for sterilisation and will protect your baby
- People don’t like to see women breastfeeding in public – not true
Surveys show that the vast majority of the public don’t mind at all. People are more likely to notice a crying baby that’s hungry than a mother discreetly feeding her child.
- Some women don’t product enough milk – not true
Almost all women can breastfeed, but it is a skill that sometimes needs to be learned before it becomes easy. Once achieved nearly all women can produce the right amount of milk for their baby.
- I have flat/inverted nipples, so I can’t breastfeed – not true
As is the case with larger vs smaller breasts, nipples of all shapes and sizes can satisfy a hungry baby. If you have inverted nipples that do not become erect when stimulated, you might need a little extra help but it is still perfectly possible to breastfeed. To draw them out, place your forefingers at opposite sides of the areola then pull outwards.
If you are experiencing some trouble establishing a good feeding pattern with your baby, there is help and support on hand. You can talk to other new mums about their experiences and there are always trained volunteers and specialist breastfeeding midwives to help. The National Breastfeeding helpline is also available on 0300 100 212