Getting off to a good start | breastfedbabies

Ideally, you can start finding out more about breastfeeding when you are pregnant. The Pregnancy Book contains lots of useful information on breastfeeding. 

You can also find out more about breastfeeding from Best Beginnings’ From Bump to Breastfeeding DVD

The Public Health Agency has produced a leaflet ‘Getting to Know Baby’ which provides useful information on feeding and caring for your baby. You can ask your midwife for a copy or download the leaflet from www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/getting-know-your-baby

Getting a good start can make breastfeeding easier for both you and your baby. The early days and first few weeks can be challenging. You will need practical and emotional support from your partner, family and friends, so that you can have the time and space needed to get to know your baby and build your confidence with breastfeeding. In hospital and when home, your midwife and health visitor will be able to show you how to breastfeed and will help you get started with breastfeeding. 

Skin-to-skin contact

Mother holding baby

It’s a good idea to hold your baby in skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after the birth. Usually your midwife will dry the baby off and give baby to you to hold in skin to skin contact.

Close skin contact helps to:

  • keep your baby warm and calm;
  • regulate your baby’s breathing and heartbeat;
  • make the first breastfeed easier.

As soon as your baby is born, try doing the following:

  • place the baby on your tummy with her head near your breast;
  • gently stroke and caress your baby;
  • allow the baby to focus on your face;
  • ask to be left undisturbed to get to know your baby;
  • keep your baby in skin to skin contact for at least an hour after birth or until after the first breastfeed.

The first feeds

The milk you produce in the first few days after the birth is called colostrum. It’s full of the antibodies which help protect your baby from infection, it also has a slightly laxative effect which helps baby pass the first poo, a black sticky substance called meconium. Even if you don’t continue breastfeeding, your baby will receive some benefit from one breastfeed after birth. Colostrum is a yellow concentrated milk which is produced in small amounts, but that’s all your baby needs at this stage.

Staying together

It’s best if your baby stays with you all the time, including sleeping in the same room (the hospital may call this rooming in). This helps you learn about your baby and become a confident mum as soon as possible. It also means that breastfeeding is established more quickly. The Lullaby Trust recommends that your baby shares your room for at least the first six months. A leaflet on reducing the risk of cot death can be downloaded here.