Our Resident Maternity Nurse, Mary Ashton on Breastfeeding Q&A PART II: FEEDING | My Baba

In your opinion, is ‘breast best’? 

Breast milk is of course the best first food for your baby all the research backs up the statement ‘breast is best’.  It is also beneficial for both baby’s health and the mothers and many women find it very rewarding.  Breastfeeding can be incredibly hard work though and needs not only commitment from the mother but lots of support from her close family and friends.  However if for whatever reason breastfeeding does not work for you or you have to stop, formula is a great food for your baby so please don’t feel guilty.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

If your baby settles well after a feed and is having 4-6 wet nappies every 24 hours, once they are 5 days old.  Baby should also be passing yellow coloured poop and gaining weight if they are doing all this then they are more than likely getting enough.

Make sure their weight is checked regularly in the first few weeks of breastfeeding by your midwife or health visitor.

How often does a newborn feed, what are typical hunger signs, and how long should a feed take? 

A fully breastfed baby should be feeding 8-10 times a day, so at least every 3 hours.  Typical hunger signs include opening and closing of the mouth and making sucking motions.  If baby starts waking from sleep and moving around and also if the baby start ‘rooting’ looking for the breast and nipple.  Finally crying, your baby will often cry with hunger but not every cry is about food.  Don’t worry though in a few weeks you will figure out what your baby’s different cries mean.

An ‘average’ breastfeed will last between 15 and 45 minutes although baby may fall asleep during the feed so you may need to tickle their feet to wake them up and make sure they get enough to eat.

Is there a good feeding position or technique?

The most important part of the feeding position is that you are comfortable, sit with a straight back with lots of cushions or pillows for support.  You may want to use a breastfeeding pillow for the baby on your lap but as post birth you may well still look like you are 5 months pregnant getting the pillow close enough to you to use can be a problem so you may like to add a pillow or two on top to get the baby to the right level near your breast.

Support your baby’s head and neck which should form a straight line with the back and then move the baby to your breast. Do not lean forward to reach your baby always bring the baby to you.  If you are very sore and find sitting difficult or at night you may like to feed lying down on one side in bed.

There are many other positions you can try and find which one works best for you and your baby but these are the most common.

Am I supposed to feel sore afterwards and what if there isn’t enough milk?

Some pain and discomfort are not unusual in the first few weeks whilst you and your baby figure out how to breastfeed.  If you are able to speak to a breastfeeding councellor, lactation specialist or your midwife they will be able to give you more information and advice on your personal situation.

If you feel you don’t have enough milk and your baby never seems to settle properly, firstly make sure you are drinking plenty of water and getting good rest and sleep.  I know that is not always possible with a new baby but it is very important to help produce and maintain a good milk supply.  Also make sure you baby is feeding regularly at least every 3 hours in the early weeks.  You could also try pumping to express any milk that is left after the baby has fed.  Breast milk is produced by supply and demand so if baby is not finishing up on a breast your body is going to think that it is making enough milk so won’t make any more.  However if you finish up that last bit of milk with a pump you body will know it needs to make more milk.

How do I burp my baby?

 There are two classic ways to burp your baby.  Over the shoulder – holding your baby under the arms place them over your shoulder so their arms are resting on your back and support their bottom with one hand.  Use your free hand to pat and rub your baby’s back until you get a burp. Baby may well bring up a little milk with their burp so make sure you have a muslin or burp cloth over your shoulder under baby to catch any bits of milk.

Sitting in your lap – sit your baby on one of your thighs and lean them forward onto you hand making sure you support the head and chest.  Using your free hand pat and rub your baby’s back until they burp.  Again a bit of milk may come up with the wind so have a muslin or burp cloth to hand.

What does ‘posseting’ mean?

 ‘Posseting’ is incredibly common in newborn babies.  It is when they bring up a bit of their feed with no effort or force, it just pops out.  Don’t worry unless your baby is upset by it in which case speak to your midwife or Doctor.

What do I do if my baby brings up a whole feed? Do I need to worry?

 If this happens just once and your baby is healthy then there is no need to worry, your baby may be ready for their next feed a little earlier than planned though.  However if your baby brings up their whole feed more than once or seems unwell in any way you must get them seen by a Doctor as soon as possible.

If I bottle feed, how do I clean the bottles properly?

 All bottles should be completely taken apart and each piece washed thoroughly in hot soapy water using a clean bottle brush – using standard washing up liquid is fine.  Then each piece of the bottle must be rinsed under cold running water, make sure there are no bubbles left.  Some bottle brushes come with an extra small brush for cleaning bottle teats.

Then it all needs to be sterilised I would suggest getting a steam steriliser as it is the quickest option but you could use cold water sterilising solution if you prefer.  Either way follow the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully.  You could always have a practise run before baby comes rather than panicking once you get home from the hospital with a hungry baby.

Can I combine breast and bottle?

Yes of course you can.  If you still want your baby to have breast milk but from a bottle you will need to express some with a breast pump.  This can be a nice way to include the baby’s father by enabling him to give a feed.

You can also breastfeed and give your baby formula from a bottle.  However you should be aware that if you reduce the number of breastfeeds your milk supply will go down.

Does formula always have to be given warm?

No your baby does not need the formula to be warm.  Ideally the milk should be body temperature so if you put a little on the inside of your wrist you don’t feel it.  If using ready made formula it is fine to feed the baby with it at room temperature.

Is there any milk my baby can’t drink?

If you are formula feeding your baby, partially or fully, they should only be having first stage standard formula milk for a newborn baby.  Which brand you choose is up to you as they all meet government guidelines.

There are many different types of ‘specialised’ formulas for newborns including hungry baby and soya but none of these should be used without first consulting your midwife or Doctor.

What is the most common question you’re asked about breastfeeding?

What happens if I don’t have enough milk?

By Mary Ashton

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