I always tell new parents that breastfeeding is like learning to dance… both you and your baby have some instinctive moves but putting them together takes time and practice. Be prepared for some missteps and uncoordinated movements but also look out for the times when it does come together and then enjoy that moment! For some mums, this will take a couple of weeks for others it will be a longer learning curve, but with any new skill – practice makes perfect!
Preparing to have a baby can be a strange and daunting time and everyone (friends, family and health professionals) will have a say on the best way to feed your baby. Asking and seeking support during the early days of parenthood is critical – but so is trusting your instinct and following your own path.
Here are some other top tips from new mums:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help and find out about local support groups whilst you are still pregnant. (Claire, baby 3 months)
Get familiar with your breasts! I was unprepared for a number of people who wanted to poke, prod and see my boobs. (Jane, Baby 6 months)
- Just relax and enjoy it. Don’t rush around or have loads of visitors. Take time to sit on the sofa and get comfortable with what is happening. It’s good for you and it’s good for the baby. (Sonia, 9-month-old twins)
- If breastfeeding doesn’t work out, get help with the alternatives. I started expressing and it worked for us as a family. (Sarah, baby 12 months)
- Believe in yourself and your baby. It is hard at times, so keep positive people around you who support you. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call a friend that’s been through it before and ask for advice.( Donna, baby 5 weeks)
- If it hurts to get help! (Mia, Baby 7 months)
A postnatal doula can provide support at home during the crucial first few weeks of feeding, offering practical support with positioning and emotional support for mums who are having any difficulties. Often new mums need someone to sit with them, in their own home to help them understand and put together the feeding dance steps!
Perfecting the breastfeeding dance:
• Always start with a calm baby and mum
• Your baby should be close to you, against your skin with no gaps
• Babies need to latch on to the breast and the nipple – not just the nipple
• Checking how the latch FEELS is just as important as to how it looks – if it doesn’t feel right – seek support