Basics of Breastfeeding
While the basics of breastfeeding are the same, the experience is different for everyone. If you need help or support, call our NCT Feeding Line on 0300 3300 700, 8am-midnight, every day.
1. Colostrum is the first food for your baby. This protein-rich substance is packed with antibodies, and mothers start producing it during pregnancy.
2. Following the baby’s birth, it is the birth of the placenta that triggers build-up of the hormone prolactin, which controls the mother’s supply of milk.
3. In the first few days, babies feed very frequently (around 10-14 times in 24 hours). Each feed stimulates the release of more prolactin, and builds up the milk supply.
4. Spend as much time with your baby skin to skin on your chest as you can. This encourages newborn reflexes such as mouthing, rooting, and stepping, which help babies to position themselves and latch on.
5. Lots of skin to skin contact helps to stimulate the milk supply too. It also calms the baby, regulates his/her temperature, and helps to populate their immune system. Skin to skin with dad is great too!
6. Around 3-4 days after the birth, the volume of milk increases, sometimes dramatically, and the breasts may get engorged. If this happens, gentle hand-expressing, a warm flannel, or a bath may help.
7. A good position for breastfeeding is any position where the mother is comfortable and the baby’s body is fully supported by her body, not just her arms.
8. Feeds can last anything between 5 minutes and 45 minutes. Follow your baby’s lead, and try not to restrict the length of the frequency of feeds, because this may mean they don’t get enough milk.
9. If breastfeeding hurts (beyond the first few seconds), this is usually a sign that the baby is not well latched on. This can make feeds less effective, and reduce the supply of milk. Hold your baby comfortably so that he/she can open wide and get a good latch. If you need some face to face support with this, there are many local drop-in groups you can go to.
10. Newborn babies need to be close to someone most of the time, so there is plenty of opportunity for dads to help out with soothing, settling and cuddling, and babies will usually sleep well on their father’s chest.