So latching. This is probably what gives most mums grief to begin with. Everyone has trouble latching. It is how you deal with it which determines whether you are going to be a 'natural' or not. It takes a least two weeks for breastfeeding to become more comfortable and at least six weeks until it is properly established. I was speaking to my mum recently and apparently she was telling a friend how easy I had found breastfeeding and how it wasn't painful or difficult for me. I told her this was not the case! I hadn't panicked about it as I knew it being difficult was only temporary and I had suspected it would be as tricky as it was. She was surprised as I hadn't mentioned once that it was painful. It really tests you at the beginning, after being exhausted from birth you are straight away faced with the pain of breastfeeding. Once your baby starts latching properly you sore nipples really are a thing of the past and your baby will have longer feeds without pulling on and off. I think the most important thing to remember if you are struggling with latching is that both you and you baby need to learn how to latch properly. With time you baby will get it. So put down all the pictures of the 'perfect' latch down and just go with it. Also there is no wrong way to breastfeed. You do not need to be sat in a breastfeeding chair with a cushion. Laying down feedings were my saviour after having a difficult birth as sitting in a chair was almost impossible. Try different positions and make sure your baby has a wide open mouth, if your baby closes her mouth before latching it can be very painful. Finally relax.
When you baby latches they will begin sucking, this stimulates a let-down which means milk comes gushing out. All mothers have different let-downs, some faster than others. You will feel a tingling sensation (similar to pins and needles) then you will notice you baby swallowing, fast at first and then more rhythmic. If your baby is choking and pulling on and off the breast you may have a fast let down. I had this problem to begin with. I would wait for Poppy to pull away hold a muslin to my breast and wait for the milk to settle down and then latch her again. Breastfeed babies have to work harder for their milk than bottle fed babies which just flows out. If you have an impatient baby try to feed them before they are too hungry. Also try to relax this helps your milk come faster. If you want to express or partially bottle feed your baby try to wait al least six weeks until breastfeeding is established because the may forget how to latch or simply become a little lazy and want milk more quickly from a bottle. The same goes for dummies. If you are planning to express milk there is some useful imformation here: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/expressing-storing-breast-milk.aspx
So that's it for my first post on breastfeeding, the next post will have information on over supply, sore nipples and hind milk. E-mail me or comment if you have any questions or tips.