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Breast-feeding your baby will give him/her all the food and drink needed for the first 6 months. It's your baby's full menu for the day!! There are many good reasons to breast-feed which are great for your baby and you.
Some Good Reasons....
- It is ready when your baby wants it, anytime, anywhere.
- Breast-feeding can help protect your baby against many infections such as chest and ear infections.
- Your baby is less likely to suffer from diarrhoea or an upset tummy
- It reduces the risk of childhood eczema and also diabetes in later life.
- It helps you get back into shape sooner after the birth
- It can reduce your risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
- Its free!
Thinking about it?
Most women can breast feed if they want to. In the first few months babies will probably breast feed very often and not necessarily in a regular routine. This can be difficult for some mothers to cope with and they can find it tiring and demanding. This time will pass and your baby will settle, but you may need some help in the early weeks so that you can focus on the baby.
You can breast feed your baby at anytime but some women are embarrassed to do so in public. There may not always be a private place for you to feed your baby. By wearing the right type of clothes it is possible to feed very discreetly without people noticing. A top that pulls up is much easier to manage than a shirt that must be opened down the front. Deciding to give breast-feeding a try to see how you and your baby get on, will allow you to find out how it will be for you and your baby.
Your breasts will start producing breast-milk after your baby is born (you may even notice a little fluid leaking in the later stage of pregnancy). In the first day or two the fluid is not actually milk, it is called colostrum. This contains a lot of nutrients and health benefits for your baby. The real milk will follow in a couple of days.
Breast-feeding is a skill that may need to be learned. While you are in the hospital the staff will show you how to put the baby to your breast properly. It may take a while for you to relax and get it right. Try to give it some time as it does become much easier.
Immediately after your baby is born he will be placed on your chest in skin-to-skin contact with you for his first cuddle. Some babies are very alert and happy to suck shortly after they are born. Your midwife will help you to give your first breastfeed as early as possible after giving birth. With a little help the first feed usually goes well and is a great confidence boost for both mother and baby.
Some useful tips for breast-feeding
- Having your baby with you at all times while you are in the hospital will help you learn your baby's way of 'asking' for a feed or a cuddle etc.
- Correct positioning and attachment of your baby for breastfeeding will ensure that he gets plenty of breast milk and you will avoid getting sore nipples.
- Frequent baby-led or demand feeding will also ensure that your milk supply is good. Your midwife will help you to get it right from the start.
- Breastfed babies need only breast milk for the first 6 months.
- If your nipples get a little sore, don't worry, but do ask for guidance from your midwife or public health nurse and usually it can be rectified quite easily.
- It may help to identify before you leave hospital, who is going to be there to help you if you get into difficulty. A friend or family member who successfully breastfed would only be too glad to help if you need advice.
- If you do not know anyone, it might help to attend a breastfeeding support group in the early stages to build your confidence and talk to other mums about breastfeeding. www.breastfeeding.ie gives details of the breastfeeding supports in your area.
- After you have got used to feeding you can sometimes use a breast pump (sold in most chemists or baby shops) to express milk from your breast. The breastmilk can be stored in the fridge or freezer to be bottle fed at another time. This means other people can sometimes feed the baby if you need a break.