Helpful Hints for Successful Breastfeeding

By Verity Livingstone, MBBS, FCFP, IBCLC on March 14, 2007
Every Mother & Child Is Unique

Not all babies have the same food demands - and not all women's breasts produce the same amount of milk or have the same milk ejection reflex. The quality and quantity of the milk a woman's breasts produce depends on the feeding pattern you establish with your baby.

The first breast should be fully drained before switching to the second breast. This results in balanced milk production and ideal infant growth. If your breasts produce plenty of milk, you can easily feed from one breast per feed. This ensures that your baby gets the higher fat content in the hind milk from the first breast, and less of the lactose-rich fore milk from the second breast.

How often should you breastfeed?

Infants can recognize the feeling of hunger, so they should be fed on demand. Most small babies breastfeed every two to three hours. If you have a low milk supply, breastfeed more often. This helps increase milk supply by ensuring good milk drainage and by stimulating the breasts to make more milk.

Increasing Milk Production
If you produce less milk, you will need to switch to the second breast at each feed. You may need to fully drain both breasts at each feed so your baby gets enough milk and you build up milk supply. The draining of milk from the breast should increase the amount of milk produced. That's why it's important to completely empty both breasts about eight times in a 24-hour period. After breastfeeding, remove left over milk by expressing milk by hand or with a breast pump. You achieve maximum breast stimulation when your baby latches correctly and sucks effectively.

How You Know Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
  • The baby wets four or five diapers in a 24-hour period.
  • Diapers look and feel wet.
  • Urine is pale and has no odour.
  • The baby has two to three bowel movements in 24 hours.
  • The colour of the baby's bowel movements ranges from brownish- to mustard yellow.
  • The size of a bowel movement is at least the size of a one dollar coin.
  • You hear the baby swallowing during feeding.
  • Your breasts feel full before a feeding and feel soft after a feeding.

If you don't see these signs by the time your baby is three or four days old, talk to a local public health nurse, a lactation consultant or your doctor.

Hints That Help
Start your baby on the breast that feels more full. Hold your baby so that he can suck effectively. Let your baby suck until he releases your nipple on his own.
Try holding your baby in different ways. The cradle position is comfortable for some women. Placing your baby on a pillow on your lap can give him a little more support and can be more comfortable for you.

If your baby still seems hungry after burping, finish feeding him from the first breast before switching to the second breast.

It's not a good idea to stop the feeding or switch to the other breast too soon. This changes the quality and quantity of the feed.

Early Hospital Release
Today's short hospital stays don't always let women and their babies establish a breastfeeding rhythm and feel confident about breastfeeding before leaving hospital.

Ask whether your hospital holds a breastfeeding clinic, and take advantage of services in your community that can help you with breastfeeding, such as La Leche League or the local public health unit.

Remember that you and your baby should see your doctor within one week of leaving hospital, to make sure that your baby is gaining weight normally and that you are breastfeeding properly. EX

By Verity Livingstone, MBBS, FCFP, IBCLC| March 14, 2007

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