I’m a nutritionist and here’s 8 things all mums can do to make breastfeeding a breeze

 

BREASTFEEDING is no simple task, no matter how natural it is.

You’ll need all the advice you can get before your little one starts latching on.

After all, it’s going to be your “norm” for months to come.

Rhiannon Lambert, registered nutritionist on Harley Street and author of upcoming book Deliciously Healthy Pregnancy, said: “Newborns typically feed every one to three hours, with an average of 10–12 feeds over 24 hours.”

During World Breastfeeding Week, Rhiannon, a new mum herself, gives her tips for breastfeeding:

1. Skin to skin ASAP

As soon as your baby is born, ensuring they are healthy, they should be placed on your chest for skin-to-skin contact. 

“This close contact is thought to help establish breastfeeding and is associated with longer breastfeeding rates,” said Rhiannon. 

In the first few days, skin-to-skin contact helps you and baby bond, and will help the baby to use the natural latching reflexes to find the breast. 

2. Get comfy

It might take you a while to get the hang of breastfeeding as you and your baby get used to each other. 

Rhiannon said: “Find a position that works for you both, ensuring your baby is well latched on.

“If you experience prolonged pain (longer than 30 seconds) when feeding and/or have damaged nipples, this suggests that your baby isn’t latched on properly, so seek qualified breastfeeding support.

“Offer both breasts at feeds to ensure they get all the milk they need.

“Try compressing your breast manually, as if expressing, during feeds to stimulate milk flow and trigger your baby to suck.”

Read the NHS Start4Life’s three common breastfeeding positions.

3. Feed responsibly

Rhiannon said regardless of whether your baby has just fed, if they want more, then allow them to.

“Wherever your baby cries or roots for the nipple, offer a feed, even if they have only just finished one,” she said. 

“Your baby may be going through one of their frequent growth spurts, so feeding on demand ensures that your milk production increases to meet their needs.”

4. Check swallowing

Rhiannon said to check your baby makes a swallowing action when feeding. 

“This together with meeting their weight milestones and producing wet and dirty nappies, indicated that they are feeding well,” she said.

The baby swallows in a rhythmic pattern as the milk is pushed toward the nipple.

They may pause as they wait for more milk to flow, the NHS says. 

5. Keep them alert

Given how much babies need to be fed, you may need to keep them from falling asleep.

Rhiannon said: “If your baby isn’t waking regularly to feed, rouse them at least every three hours. 

“If they fall asleep at the breast or after the first breast, remove them, change their nappy to increase their alertness, then offer the other breast.”

The NHS says if your baby seems to be falling asleep before the deep swallowing stage of feeds, they may not be properly attached to the breast.

Ask your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding supporter to check your baby’s positioning and attachment.

6. Eat enough calories

Breastfeeding is hard work.

Rhiannon said mums “can use an extra 400–500 calories a day” while breastfeeding.

She added: “Bear in mind there’s no one-size-fits-all advice for nutrition.

“The amount of energy you need to consume depends on numerous factors such as your age, genetics, and levels of physical activity.

“Eat plenty of fibre to avoid constipation, which is common after birth.”

7. Eat a healthy diet

Whether you are a new mum or not, you should try and eat a balanced healthy diet to support your baby.

Vitamin D is important for new mums – and Rhiannon recommended upping the iron, calcium and choline, too.

Rhiannon said you will need more of certain nutrients to aid milk production, deliver nutrients to your baby and support recovery. 

Iron – which may be lost at birth or during recovery due to bleeding – is needed for a baby’s brain development in the early weeks of life.

Rich sources of iron include red meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit and fortified cereals. 

“In pregnancy, you need 1000mg, calcium a day (up from 700mg) and 1250mg a day if breastfeeding,” Rhiannon said.

Calcium comes in the form of dairy, including milk and yoghurt. If you’re vegan, choose unsweetened calcium-fortified dairy alternatives, eat tofu, brown bread, pulses and dried fruit.

Rhiannon said you need choline throughout pregnancy and into breastfeeding.

“It is thought to work closely with folate at the start of pregnancy to support your baby’s brain and neural tube development,” she said. 

“A great food source is eggs. It is also found in poultry, cruciferous vegetables, nuts and peanuts, legumes, milk, and soya products. 

“If you are vegan or vegetarian or eat a mainly plant-based diet, it is important to ensure that you are getting enough choline and you may need to speak to your healthcare provider about supplements.”

8. Drink water

Rhiannon said: “Stay hydrated. Breastfeeding is thirsty work so keep water nearby.”

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