Gill O’Connor, Infant Feeding and Breastfeeding Development Coordinator: 

Feeding baby in the early days

The early days following the birth are highly important to develop good habits, helping mother, baby and partner. Our Parent Champions gave their helpful hints about the potentially tricky early days feeding your baby.

Here are their top five pieces of advice, as well as my explanations or follow on comments…

1 – Try to relax

The hormones Prolactin and Oxytocin, which are released during breastfeeding, give a mother the feeling of tranquillity and help them to feel relaxed and peaceful. Breastfeeding gives an opportunity to sit quietly and can help mothers get rest following the birth.

Stress can interfere with the oxytocin reflex that supports milk production, which leads to low milk supply and increases stress to mother and baby. So remember, as one mother said; ‘It’s okay to sit around in your pyjamas on your sofa!’

2 – Find your own comfortable place

Making a comfortable space to breastfeed will enhance relaxation, mean a better let-down reflex and a more pleasurable experience. A book, remote control, phone charger, cushion…whatever is needed to make it a cosy time for mother and baby. Reading to baby or singing will increase their feelings of contentment. If there are older children or toddlers, a distraction for them such as a game, book or colouring will help to make them feel included and get to know their new sibling.

Also, skin-to-skin (having your skin against your baby’s skin) will help stimulate powerful surges of milk-producing hormones and encourage instinctive mothering behaviours.

3 – Don’t try too hard to be the perfect parent, there’s no such thing! Just enjoy it for what it is

Good parenting happens when a family provide a stable, nurturing home environment and give the baby love. The truth is that the ‘perfect parent’ is a myth. Learn to be “good enough” and be kind to yourself. A baby will love their parents unconditionally.

A baby that is brought up in a loving and nurturing environment will become a confident and secure adult.

4 – Enjoy the moment as it’s such a special time

The first few days getting to know your new baby are very special and it is advisable to limit visitors in order to enjoy this time and not have to play host to a constant flow of visitors.  It is helpful to share this rule with friends and family before your baby is born.

Skin-to-skin cuddles are important for fathers too and research has shown that within fifteen minutes of holding a baby, human males experience raised levels of hormones associated with tolerance/trust (oxytocin), sensitivity to infants (cortisol) and brooding/lactation/bonding (prolactin).

5 – If breastfeeding and having trouble with latching, ask your health visitor for a breastfeeding consultant to visit. Also ask baby to be checked for tongue tie

In the early days the midwife will still be visiting or if they are unavailable the health visitor can support and advise. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help!

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