For new mums, breastfeeding is one of the challenges you face when your precious little one arrives. It is very common for mums to feel unsure about the various elements of breastfeeding such as timing, frequency, techniques and milk production. As with any new activity it can take some time to feel comfortable with breastfeeding.
At Mater Mothers’ we deliver more than 10 000 babies each year and work closely with our new mums to help them become confident in caring for their baby. We share a range of tried and tested tips to help you learn about how your baby’s feeding behaviour, urine output and bowel movements can help you to know that your baby is getting enough breast milk.
Your baby has a unique way of communicating to you that they are hungry. Look for, and respond to early feeding cues that your baby displays including: rapid eye movement, clicking or tongue sucking, opening their mouth and searching to suck on contact (also known as rooting), hand movements to their mouth or sucking on their hands, and general increased alertness or activity.
Crying is a late sign of hunger so avoid waiting for this sign as your baby will be more difficult to latch to your breast. Occasionally, babies can move rapidly through the feeding cues to crying, or the situation may not allow you to immediately respond to their early cues. However, placing your baby skin-to-skin against your chest allows them to calm and they may then exhibit those early feeding cues again. A calm baby is easier to latch.
While it is impossible to measure how much breast milk a baby drinks, it is possible to assess if your baby is feeding effectively. Breastfeeding should be comfortable for you and your baby. Your baby should have a deep, slow rhythmic sucking pattern; the slower the suck, the more milk that is drawn into your baby’s mouth. Your baby will appear more relaxed, and your breasts become softer, as the feed progresses.
Breastfeeding works on supply and demand. Every time your baby feeds, your body starts to make the next feed. The more your baby feeds, the more milk you make. You do not have to wait a specific amount of time for your breasts to fill up before feeding your baby again. If you have any concerns about your milk supply, please speak to your midwife, GP or a lactation consultant.
Mater Mothers’ Breastfeeding Support Centre was created to help and support women as they develop their breastfeeding technique. If you require further assistance and support please phone 07 3163 8200 to make an appointment with a lactation consultant.
More helpful advice on breastfeeding and what to expect in your baby’s first weeks is also available at matermothers.org.au.
Written by registered midwives and lactation consultants from Mater Mothers’ Hospitals.