Breastfeeding is an art and a science. Although it is a natural act, it helps if you are prepared when your newborn baby tries to latch on for the first time. Mrs Wong Boh Boi, the Assistant Director (Clinical) and Senior Lactation Consultant of the ParentCraft Centre at Thomson Medical Centre tells us what to expect.
What advice would you give a new mother who is breastfeeding for the first time?
Relax and let the baby lead. A baby will instinctively know how to suckle the moment he is delivered. There should be early initiation within the first hour after birth, with skin to skin contact encouraged. The new mother should also rest more and avoid stress. The mother should also adopt the correct technique of latching and positioning of the baby to breast.
What are the best positions to breastfeed a newborn?
All positions are okay as long as the mum’s general condition allows for it. Below are some examples of the positions:
• Cradle – Most mums feel comfortable and at ease with this position.
• Cross cradle or football – It allows the mother to have a full view of her baby, thus building her confidence as mothers tend to worry that their babies may be suffocated by their breasts.
• Lie down position – for tired mums or mothers who have had a Caesarean section.
• C-hold or scissors hold
• Dancer-hand position – useful for feeding a baby with weak oral muscle development.
How can I tell if baby has had enough?
The baby will feel satisfied after each feed and the mother’s breasts will feel empty and soft. The baby will also use up to six to eight wet diapers a day. Each week, the baby will gain 150 g per week, or 20 g per day if breastfeeding is well established.
Should I wake my baby up to breastfeed or let her sleep?
It depends on what the mum is comfortable with. It is a good idea to get the baby to settle into a schedule feeding that involves a lapse of four hours since the last feed during the day. At night, the baby can be fed when he wakes up and demands for milk.
My newborn is fully breastfed, but has not passed motion for four days! What should I do?
You can try tummy massage to enhance passing of motion and reducing gas. If your baby is not feeding well or if there are any other medical signs of problems, please consult your baby’s paediatrician immediately.
If my baby keeps regurgitating and throwing up after being fed, does this mean she is not getting any milk? Do I need to supplement her diet with formula milk?
If it is due to reflux, burp your baby before and after each feed, raise your baby’s upper body and head up for 30 minutes to let the food settle before laying him flat down in the cot. Avoid aggressive methods of burping.
My baby keeps falling asleep while breastfeeding, what should I do?
Breastfeeding has a rhythmic action that tends to make babies fall asleep during feeding. You should unwrap your baby, burp him and avoid giving him a wrong cue, for instance, by patting on his body (similar to settling baby to sleep). If your baby has fallen asleep due to the rhythm of suckling, remove your baby from the breast, try burping him, then place him back to resume.
My baby seems to be feeding very often, every 45 minutes. Is this normal?
It is not normal for a baby to feed so often. A few factors that may be causing this are the mother’s milk supply, the transfer of milk from mum’s breast to baby, the latching technique, the positioning of baby to breast, the environment which may be too hot (or baby’s overwrapped) that may lead to thirst.
My baby is fully breastfed but she is losing weight. Should I give her formula milk?
It would be good to check if your baby is latching on well and if the transfer of milk from your breast into baby’s mouth is efficient. Check your milk supply, ensure that you are not too stressed or suffering from fatigue – these also affect the milk supply. Seek professional help. The last resort may be to turn to medication to increase your milk production. Do not stop breastfeeding.