Getting started with breastfeeding: everything you need to know

Are you approaching your due date and have decided to breastfeed? Whether it’s your first child or you’ve already had experience of breastfeeding, you’re asking yourself a thousand questions. Because as everyone says, every breastfeeding experience is different. On the occasion of the launch of our Breastfeeding bar, we wanted to take stock of the subject with Estelle Drevault, a midwife trained in naturopathy. We have gathered her advice on how to get your breastfeeding off to a good start.

For a long time out of fashion, breastfeeding has been making a comeback in recent years. Especially since the attraction of young mothers for this natural and ancient gesture is supported by the latest scientific research. Indeed, it has been confirmed that breastfeeding is good for mothers and babies.

Above all, it is necessary to reassure mothers. Women’s bodies are made for breastfeeding. The baby will know how to suckle, it is a natural act. Here are the basic rules for successful breastfeeding:

Take advice from people trained in breastfeeding or from other mothers who have already breastfed
Take care of yourself, rest whenever you can
Eat well and drink plenty of fluids.
Whether you decide to breastfeed or not, whether you breastfeed for 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years, the main thing is to feed your child with love. If you choose to do so, feed your baby with love, he will feel it and that is what counts.

Breastfeeding may seem like the simplest and most natural act in the world. However, it is important to make sure that certain conditions are met:

1 Start breastfeeding well: Preparing for the baby’s arrival in the family

First of all, it is important to prepare the arrival of the baby in the family. Ask yourself the right questions: how can the family’s rhythm of life be adapted to the installation of the calm relationship between mother and child? Everyone needs to find their place: the father who makes sure that mother and baby are doing well. The brothers and sisters who see that their parents are happy, and who are happy to feel the love that their parents give to their little brother/sister, which reflects the love that they themselves have received.

The important question for the couple to ask themselves is: what space have we planned for the new baby in our life rhythm, in our leisure time? What means have we put in place so that his mother can feed him freely, with the minimum of constraints?

Preparing for breastfeeding

If there is no particular physical preparation to be made, it is possible to prepare the nipples at the end of pregnancy. To do this, apply gentle pressure on the aureole to let out some colostrum (the first milk, very rich in proteins and antibodies, secreted at the end of pregnancy). The most important thing if you want to prepare to breastfeed is to prepare to offer your body, to make it available for the newborn. This is the time to reconnect with your body, to accept it without reticence. Take advantage of the good weather to expose yourself to the sun and wind. Go for a swim!

At the maternity hospital: Setting up breastfeeding

Make sure that you are well surrounded, that you have informed the maternity ward staff of your birth plans and the role that the father will play… At birth, the nursing staff will place the newborn baby in your arms, warm and close to you. He will find your smell and the softness of your skin. This is the great start of your relationship, enjoy this unique moment!

The first feed

After a few minutes of recuperation, the child will start to suck on his finger or hand. Then he will start to approach the breast. This first feed is very important for the establishment of breastfeeding, but also for the exceptional energy and immune supply of the colostrum for the newborn.

But this first suckling is also important for the mother: it triggers the secretion of prolactin, the lactation hormone. The suckling also triggers another hormone, oxytocin, which will facilitate the flow of milk and increase the contractions of the uterus. This reaction will have the double benefit of facilitating the spontaneous elimination of the placenta, and also facilitating its return to a normal volume.

Take advantage of good advice

The principle in the first few days is to breastfeed every time the baby wakes up. Listen to the advice of mothers who have breastfed, but don’t listen to the advice of those around you, even the most benevolent. Relatives and friends who have not breastfed can only peddle preconceived ideas, more or less false. Husbands are not objective and should stick to their role of calm and comforting support.

During the next few days, take advantage of the presence of the nursing staff to be assisted. Do not be afraid to ask questions! You have a few days to get used to your newborn: take advantage of this! Ask them to be present at each feeding, try to recognise the signs of hunger yourself, ask them all the questions that worry you, the appearance of cracks on the nipple, the use of breastfeeding cushions, breast pumps, nursing bras, etc.

2 Setting up breastfeeding at home: the first month

To make it easier for you to return home, you can have a midwife monitor you and your baby at home. Your midwife will be able to accompany you according to your needs. She will also teach you to follow your intuition and listen to the signs your child gives you.

The breastfeeding position

Whether you are breastfeeding lying down or sitting in an armchair, the most important thing is to adopt a comfortable position, as you must leave your baby at the breast for at least 10 minutes per feed, to allow him to assimilate all the nutrients, as the composition of the milk varies during the feed. The breastfeeding position is not the same as that of a bottle-feeding baby. The infant should not have to turn his head. He should be facing the breast, snuggled up to you, his belly against yours. Do not hesitate to use breastfeeding pillows to support your back or your arm during feeding. There is no one best position for breastfeeding. Lying down or sitting up: you will find the position that suits you best, depending on the shape of your breast and your nipple, the way your milk is ejected and, of course, your baby’s well-being.

The duration of feeds

The principle of on-demand breastfeeding is that the baby is given time to become full. At the beginning, the feed will last at least 10 minutes, to ensure that the baby has assimilated all the nutrients. In practice, the duration depends on the needs of each child and the time of day. In fact, breastfeeding is not just about feeding your baby, it is also about giving him a drink and comforting him. Breastfeeding is also a moment of pleasure shared by mother and baby. By feeding your baby, you satisfy his senses, taste, smell, touch, etc.

The rhythm of feeds

Traditionally, mothers were advised to breastfeed at fixed times. Today, we listen to baby’s needs. This means: feedings on demand, day and night. Responding to a baby’s needs is not spoiling him or her, it is ensuring that the baby has the sense of security necessary for the formation of his or her personality. A baby can also be thirsty, which is common because we often tend to cover them up too much. This is why having your baby close to you at night makes it easier to latch on.

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3 Breastfeeding in everyday life

How to deal with the gaze of others? Many mothers are embarrassed to “put their breast out” to breastfeed in public. It is very easy to breastfeed discreetly. Consider bringing a cloth such as a veil or scarf, which will allow you to hide your breast easily.

What to eat when breastfeeding?

Mothers’ energy needs are very high during breastfeeding. It is therefore important to continue eating a healthy and balanced diet. By eating nuts (almonds, hazelnuts), you will be able to cope with the inevitable fatigue during this period. Plants such as fennel or fenugreek have a galactogenic effect and can be consumed in the form of herbal teas. Our Honey Almond Breastfeeding Bar combines tasty treats, high quality energy intake and lactation stimulation, thanks to fennel seeds.

Breastfeeding and going back to work

For many mothers, going back to work means the end of breastfeeding. However, it is perfectly possible to express milk at midday and store it until the evening. There are small breast pumps that are very practical and easy to store in a handbag.

How long to breastfeed?

The longer the better. During pregnancy, women stock up for 6 months of breastfeeding. After that, if you want to breastfeed for a long time, you just have to be careful not to lose too much weight.

To find out more, you can read the book L’allaitement, de la naissance au sevrage, by Dr Marie Thirion.

Article by Claude Didierjean-Jouveau of La Leche League:

La fabrique des mamans

La fabrique des mamans

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