10 things to know

10 things to know about breastfeeding before you start!

In the initial weeks, new-borns have small stomachs and a high metabolism, leading to frequent feeding sessions. Importantly, new-borns cannot overfeed from the breast, but they can underfeed. It is crucial to watch for early feeding cues (see 5) and recognise signs of good milk transfer to ensure your baby is getting enough nourishment.

Breastfeeding is a learned skill, and it may not always come naturally. While breastfeeding should not be painful, it’s common for mothers to face challenges initially. Seek help from professionals such as health visitors and midwives or support groups like BAMBIS. You can contact BAMBIS on Facebook/Instagram or call them at 0151 233 6874 (for those with a Liverpool City Council postcode). BAMBIS sessions are available across the city in local Children’s Centres to socialise, ask questions, play, make friends and to receive support if needed.

It’s normal for babies to lose a small amount of weight in their first few days. This is usually due to fluid loss and is generally regained within the first week. Regular check-ups with a healthcare professional can help monitor the baby’s weight and ensure proper growth.

Monitor your baby’s well-being by observing nappy output, weight gain, and skin tone. A content baby with wet nappy’s, steady weight gain, and healthy skin colour indicates sufficient milk intake. Additionally, your baby’s stool will change over the first few days, progressing from dark meconium to a lighter, mustard-yellow colour.

Learn to recognise your baby’s hunger cues, such as lip smacking, rooting, sucking on hands, or becoming more alert. Responding promptly to these cues can make breastfeeding more comfortable for both you and your baby.

The first three months after birth are often referred to as the “fourth trimester.” During this time, babies need close contact and comfort. Breastfeeding not only provides nourishment but also helps establish a strong bond between mum and baby.

The health benefits of breastfeeding extend to both mum and baby. For babies, breast milk provides essential nutrients, antibodies, and enzymes that boost the immune system, protecting them from infections and illnesses. It also contributes to the development of a healthy gut microbiome. Mothers who breastfeed experience a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and faster postpartum recovery.

While you may be the primary feeder, your partner and family play a crucial role in supporting you. Partners may find other ways to comfort and care for the baby, such as baby massage, holding baby after feeds, bathing baby, allowing you to rest between feeds. Emotional support and understanding are key for a positive breastfeeding experience.

It’s not just about providing nourishment. Breastfeeding is an intimate time for bonding between you and your baby. The skin-to-skin contact and eye contact during feeds contribute to a strong emotional connection.

Preparing for breastfeeding is essential. In your third trimester book a session at your local Children’s Centre to gain valuable information, learn practical skills, receive information about harvesting your colostrum and connect with other expectant parents. Preparation can boost confidence and ease the breastfeeding journey.