8 Essential Tips For New Mothers For A Successful Breastfeeding Journey
A successful breastfeeding journey is all about having the right help and support – and the right knowledge. Find breastfeeding tips and techniques from a lactation expert here.
The benefits of breastfeeding are many and nothing short of miraculous. For example, did you know that breastfeeding is not only beneficial for babies but also for mums? It helps with healing post-delivery trauma and lowers the risk of reproductive cancers as well as heart disease. This is just one of the multitude of reasons why you should breastfeed. It isn’t always an easy journey, but it can be a rewarding one for you and your new bundle of joy.
A big challenge for new mums is navigating their breastfeeding journey for the first time. To help mums ease into the process, here are eight breastfeeding tips for new mothers shared by Ms. Kang Phaik Gaik, Head of Parentcraft/Lactation, Alvernia Parentcraft Centre at Mount Alvernia Hospital. Ms. Kang answered common questions new mums have about breastfeeding during the recent Philips AVENT Breastfeeding Talk.
1. How can I increase my milk supply?
Ms. Kang: I recommend initiating breastfeeding as soon as possible after delivery. You can stimulate more breastmilk supply by doing a gentle breast massage before feeding and ensure that the baby is latching well. Frequent feeding helps as well, and getting the correct latch is the most crucial part. Once the baby latches correctly, they will receive more milk and you will start producing more milk as well. Suitable food supplements can also help to enhance milk production.
2. I’m going back to work soon. How can I ensure I maintain my supply? And how do I keep milk expressed at work fresh?
Ms. Kang: To keep supply up, do feed your baby as often as possible during the confinement period to establish milk production in the initial six to eight weeks.
When back at work, continue feeding your baby before and after work. Store expressed breastmilk sealed in a sterilised airtight container and chilled at a consistent temperature. How long it lasts will depend on where you store it.
- Room temperature – up to four hours
- Refrigeration – up to two days
- Freezer – up to three months
Do remember to organise the containers with dates so no milk goes to waste. Storing milk in the office’s fridge is fine as long as the milk is stored in an airtight container or in breastmilk pouches. If you are worried about food contamination in the fridge, simply store the milk inside a separate bag.
3. Can I still breastfeed normally if I have a flat or inverted nipple?
Ms. Kang: Yes, you can. Every mum can breastfeed regardless of their nipple shape, whether is it flat or inverted as the baby suckles on the areola for milk and not the nipples. If you have concerns with your nipple, I would encourage you to attend antenatal classes or talks to build your confidence in breastfeeding. It is important for you to start breastfeeding early as well – best to start right in the delivery suite when your baby is awake and alert with a strong instinct to suckle. As long as your baby is able to grasp a big mouthful of the breast, including the areola and nipple, your baby will be able to breastfeed well. He or she will draw the nipple out through suckling and improve the shape of your nipple over time.
4. My baby is not latching well. What should I do?
Ms. Kang: The correct latching technique is to “U-hold” your breast when latching the baby on so that the areola becomes smaller and the nipple protrudes more. This allows the baby to grasp the breast well.
5. How early should I start breastfeeding?
Ms. Kang: It is good practice to start latching your baby as soon as possible after delivery. Babies should have skin-to-skin contact with mums immediately after birth, preferably within five minutes, for an hour or so. After 30 minutes, you might notice your baby showing readiness to feed and can latch on from there. You will be surprised that a lot of babies can self-latch that early. The first latch is always the most important.
6. Does stress contribute to a lower milk supply?
Ms. Kang: Generally, yes. Stress affects the letdown reflex, which in turn affects the milk supply. When you are feeling tired, stressed or in pain, it will reflect in your letdown reflex at that time.
7. How do I prevent breast engorgement?
Ms. Kang: Starting your breastfeeding journey early and frequently can help you avoid engorgement. Avoid taking supplements to further increase supply and ensure that you are using proper latching techniques.
Engorgement is a natural part of the milk-making process that leaves your breasts feeling tender and swollen. A favourite remedy is to apply cold raw cabbage leaves one or two times for an hour or cold packs to soothe the pain and reduce swelling.
For relief, the right technique would be to support one side of the breast. Then, placing your hand on the affected area, push inwards towards the chest and massage in circular motions. Drain the milk towards the nipple and have your baby feed or start pumping. Moderate pressure should be used when massaging.
8. How can I get support if I’m experiencing challenges in breastfeeding?
Ms. Kang: Do seek help and support from professional lactation consultants early. Dads and other family members should also provide as much emotional and psychological support as possible. New parents can consider engaging a breastfeeding-friendly confinement nanny as well to assist you during the early stages and provide guidance in caring for your baby.
For more information on breastfeeding products such as breast pumps, breast pads and cold packs, visit Philips AVENT, the #1 recommended brand by mums worldwide.*
For more information on professional post-partum services, visit Mount Alvernia Hospital’s Parentcraft Centre.
*Based on December 2015 GemSeek online satisfaction survey conducted among more than 9,000 female users of childcare brands and products.
Content sponsored by Philips Avent Singapore