Breastfeeding Newborns

In the early days your breasts will produce colostrum "liquid gold":

  • Your baby's stomach is the size of a small marble when it is born, it will get full up very quickly but will also empty over a couple of hours
  • Your baby will want to feed every couple of hours due to the size of his tummy, by day three his tummy is the size of a ping pong ball
  • The more you let your baby have skin to skin and suckle the quicker your milk will arrive
When your milk "comes in" you may experience some strong emotions which are due to the massive hormonal changes taking place in your body. If you are suffering a lot with engorged breasts then you could try cooled Savoy cabbage leaves (whole, with stem cut out, wrapped around whole boob by inserting in to a bra), homeopathic medicines, warm flannels before feeding and cooled flannels after feeding. If the nipple is so stretched that baby can't latch then try hand expressing some milk off before attachment.
Once baby has latched on you should feel no pain, if there is any pain then please speak to someone as soon as possible, I have listed some numbers below, and you should check the following:
  • Positioning of you and your baby
  • Attachment to the breast (latch)
  • Physical issues (eg tongue tie)

Your baby will need to feed frequently during the day and night. At night you are, naturally, going to be more tired. Try to make sure that your newborn is awake enough to have a full feed (otherwise you may find you are up again in half hour). Changing nappy, taking babygro off legs (to keep cool), tickling cheek, burping, will all help to keep baby alert enough to feed well.

MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE EATING WELL AND KEEPING HYDRATED. Your milk supply will suffer if you are not looking after yourself. Try and have a glass of water with every feed and you should aim to have 500 calories extra per day.

Tongue tie is massively under diagnosed, this could be due to it correcting itself in many cases but these are signs you should be aware of (please contact your midwife/health visitor if you think this may be an issue):

  • Your nipple will probably be mishapen after feeding (the shape of a lipstick)
  • Fretting at the breast, baby may not be able to take a good feed as the milk transfer is not optimal and so can cause frustration
  • Your baby doesn't poke it's tongue out (not at newborn stage)
  • Increase in dribble when not teething
  • When you do see the tongue (normally whilst baby is yawning or fretting) then it may be a heart shape

Cluster feeding:

  • If your baby starts cluster feeding in the evenings then look forward to some longer naps. Cluster feeding is used as a way to increase the milk supply in the evening so that your baby can get a full feed before bed
  • It normally starts from 4-6 weeks and is hard work, baby will want to feed as often as it possibly can for a good few nights. This is so that your breasts produce the amount of milk needed to sleep for more than the normal 3-4 hours
  • Although cluster feeding is hard work for Mum (and her support system) it is perfectly natural and should mean that longer nights are coming

Mastitis; if you have any of the following symptoms you should contact your doctor and breast feeding support group as soon as possible:

  • Red (normally as a patch), hot, sore, swollen boobs
  • Flu like, feverish symptoms
  • You will be prescribed antibiotics but you can start to help by taking Ibruprofen every 6 hours, massaging the hot spot, warming the area before a feed (hot shower water is great, or feeding in the bath), as mastitis is a blockage of the milk duct where the milk has become still and can't clear. Please note, you do not need to pump and dump as you may be advised 🙂

Cracked/sore nipples; if you have any of the following symptoms you should contact your breast feeding support group as soon as possible:

  • Bleeding, blistering, cracked nipples
  • Blood in breast milk (this is not as scary as it sounds) due to damaged milk duct
  • Your breast feeding support group should be able to give you advice on barrier creams and nipple shields (not always recommended) and repositioning so that you get a better latch
Breastfeeding support groups:
National Breastfeeding - 0300 100 0212
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers - 08444 122 949
La Leche League - 0845 120 2918
NCT - 0300 330 0771