Breastfeeding: the most common questions

To mark World Breastfeeding Week, Sioned Hilton, Medela UK’s Education Manager and in-house Lactation Consultant, offers her advice on your breastfeeding questions

How do I know my baby has the right latch?

The early days are vital to get breastfeeding established and milk production initiated. First of all, find a position that you are comfortable sitting in. The principles of nursing for any baby is a good latch – chin to breast, nipple to nose, nipple falls deep into the mouth, the lower lip curls out under the nipple and the upper lip thins and curls up a little. The suck will feel a little tender for the first few days on the nipple, listen and watch for a burst of sucks and the swallowing of milk. Also look at what is going on in your baby’s nappies, as this indicates the volume of milk going through their system, too.

Is there a reason one breast may produce more milk than the other?

Mums often find that one breast can produce more milk than the other and if you’re expressing, this becomes more apparent. There are several reasons why this might happen. For example, in the early weeks after birth when your breasts’ cells are primed for feeding, this is when storage capacity is determined, and is dependent on feeding patterns at the time. As long as your little one is content, steadily growing and you’re meeting their needs, there is nothing to worry about.

How long should I wait after baby is born to start expressing?

I would advise you take some time to get breastfeeding established before expressing. The early weeks with baby help you to initiate feeding, build your supply and get lots of practice. However, if you’re experiencing difficulties, your midwife may suggest you begin expressing to help initiate your supply.

What’s the best way to deal with biting during breastfeeds?

This is a tough one, as your baby is exploring how to move her tongue. Make sure the latch is deep – when she is sucking her tongue should come over her lower gum. It is usual to have a nip as they slip off the breast or get frustrated as the milk flow slows. Watch your baby and see when she does nip; anticipate this and take her off before she bites. Try to minimise your reaction as baby may interpret the shock as being pushed away, and the bite will stop your milk flow because the reflex will react to the pain.

Tips & tricks – Breastfeeding has been proven time and time again to be the best way to feed baby. However, it’s not always as easy. Here are my tips for preparing yourself…

  • Having a supportive, reassuring and caring network of friends and family around you is vital, if not essential. Try to find a local breastfeeding group with peer supporters.
  • Chatting with other breastfeeding mothers is a brilliant way to get advice and learn some new tips from those who have experienced breastfeeding and expressing first hand. In fact, in a survey by breastfeeding brand Medela, it was found that 76% of mums believed attending a breastfeeding group help to support them.
  • Know what to expect and have realistic expectations; you and your baby are both new to this and it will take time to get the hang of it.
  • Believe in yourself! The human body is amazing, so believing in your ability to grow a baby, give birth and feed your baby is key.