It is never too early to start thinking about breastfeeding your baby.
Every parent wants the best for their baby and it is important to start right. Breast milk is the perfect nourishment for your baby.
Mothers should breastfeed their infant for as long as they feel comfortable with it. The recommendation is to breastfeed for at least 6 months, and if possible to continue till their infant is 2 years old.
Mothers can introduce appropriate forms of solids to infants anytime after 4 completed months, and before the end of 6 completed months. The aim of doing so would be to introduce the infant to new tastes, textures and the development of feeding skills. Milk should be the main source of nutrition for infants in the first year of life.
Between 1 year to 2 years of age, the toddler should be getting more and more of his/her calories from food rather than milk. By 2 years of age, the bulk of the toddler's calories should come from eating. Milk should still be a component of the toddler's diet - with the toddler drinking between 400-500 ml per day. If the toddler is drinking a lot more than 500 ml per day, there may be concerns that he/she is not eating enough.
antenatal classes : Experts will give you valuable tips on how to breastfeed, as well as answer your queries.
Read up on breastfeeding: Ask your doctor for information booklets on breastfeeding, borrow books from the library or research online. Books often feature step-by-step guides on how to latch on your baby and the different positions you can adopt.
Talk to other mums who have successfully breastfed: Having a strong support network is important as they will encourage you and share their experiences on how they overcome obstacles.
Get support from your spouse, family members or confinement nanny: Share with them your intention or decision to breastfeed. This is important as sometimes, anxious family members or others may stress you out by questioning you on the need to breastfeed. They may doubt if your baby has drunk enough or if you have adequate milk for your baby.
Inform your doctor and nurses that you intend to breastfeed exclusively:
Successful breastfeeding depends on early initiation and a good latch. Make sure your doctor and the nurses know that you do not want your baby to be given any formula milk. You can request for your baby to room-in 24 hours a day with you in the postnatal ward to facilitate breastfeeding.
You just need to have some knowledge and a bit of perseverance for breastfeeding. In the initial stage, you may wish to consider getting these:
Some items you may consider getting later on:
If you and your baby are well with no medical concerns, place your baby on your chest for at least an hour of skin-to-skin contact within five minutes after delivery. Your baby’s suckling reflex is most intense in the first hour after birth. Being close to each other after sharing the birth experience helps your baby to calm down, keeps him warm and encourages him to breastfeed. Guide baby when he shows signs of readiness to feed.
You are also encouraged to room-in 24 hours a day in the postnatal ward with your baby to promote bonding, facilitate breastfeeding and allow you to recognise the early feeding cues. Do not be afraid to seek help from the nurses or lactation consultants if you need to.
Observe for early feeding cues. Feed your baby when he does any of the following:
Suck > Swallow> Breathe (pause) rhythm
You can breastfeed sitting or lying down.
You can breastfeed in various positions. Pick a position that is comfortable for you.
1. Cradle hold is suitable when you and your baby are able to co-ordinate well and latch on easily. Support your baby’s head in the crook of your arm and hold buttocks with your hand with your baby’s face and body turned towards you.
2. Cross cradle hold is ideal for newborn, small or premature babies. It is also good for mothers with a short nipple. Support the back of the baby’s head and shoulder at the nape of neck using your palm and the baby’s body and buttock with your forearm.
3. Football hold is ideal for small babies, mothers with large breasts and short nipples or mothers who have undergone a caesarean section. Support your baby’s head and shoulder at the nape of neck with your palm and the baby’s body and buttock with your forearm. Tuck your baby under your arm so that the legs are behind you and the head is at your breast.
4. Lying down is ideal for mother after a caesarean section, forceps delivery or for feeding at night. Lie on your side with a pillow under your head and behind your back with the baby facing you.
If you have any problems, approach your hospital’s lactation consultants for help.
There is no need to stop breastfeeding just because you are returning to work. With a bit of planning, your baby can still be fully breastfed and receive the best nourishment.
Here are some tips to help you juggle with resuming work and the desire to continue to breastfeed:
If you have problems with lactation or are worried, speak to your doctor, lactation consultants or even mothers who have balanced breastfeeding and work.
You can express your breast milk manually by using your hands or with a manual or electrical breast pump.
How to express breast milk with a breast pump?
Breastfeeding may sound challenging initially, but once baby latches successfully, it is fulfilling and enjoyable. These are some common questions that you may have:
When your baby starts suckling, a hormone called oxytocin releases milk into the breast ducts causing it to flow towards the nipple. This is called the “let-down reflex”, which has a tingling or tightening sensation on the breast. If you are stressed, the let-down reflex can be inhibited. So, relax!
When you first start breastfeeding, your first milk is colostrum which is:
Mature breast milk consists of:
It is normal for mothers to worry that they may not have enough milk for their babies. Milk production occurs regardless of the mode of feeding. Frequent and effective milk removal is important to ensure a good supply. Hence,
If your baby has had enough,
This is known as “nipple confusion”, which occurs when a baby is offered both the breast and a bottle. Suckling from the breast and drinking from a bottle need different techniques. Some babies who have been fed expressed milk from a bottle at the start may refuse to latch directly. To avoid confusing your baby, feed exclusively from the breast where possible. If you need to express milk for various reasons, give him expressed milk in a cup, a spoon or from a syringe.
During growth spurts — around 2-6 weeks, 3 and 6 months of age — there will be an increased demand for nursing. The increased frequency of feeding will help to increase the milk supply to meet the baby’s needs. Do not worry; it only lasts for a few days.
Premature babies often have medical problems that require close monitoring in the hospital.
Mothers of premature babies can:
Babies who are not
breastfed are at greater risk for:
Mothers who do not breastfeed are at greater risk for:
You can breastfeed up to two years and beyond. Although your baby may be getting nutrients from other sources of food, breast milk is still an important form of nutrition. Breastfeed as long as you and your baby desire. You can continue to breastfeed even if you are pregnant again.
For contact details of hospital lactation consultant services and more, click
here to see Services, Support groups and Helplines (Pregnancy).
If you and your baby are well with no medical concerns, place your baby on your chest within five minutes after delivery for at least an hour of skin-to-skin contact. Guide baby when he shows signs of readiness to feed. Room-in 24 hours a day in the postnatal ward with your baby to promote bonding, facilitate breastfeeding and allow you to recognise the early feeding cues.
Ensure a good latch to ensure smooth flow of milk.
Make sure you have a well-balanced diet, limit caffeine intake and avoid alcohol and tobacco products. Get enough rest and sleep.
Feed your baby on demand. Allow him to suckle for as long as possible.
Avoid supplementary feeds as far as possible because your baby will have no desire to suckle to maintain the milk production and flow.
Avoid feeding from a bottle or using a pacifier in the first few weeks until breastfeeding is established as that will discourage the learning process of breastfeeding for your baby.
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This article was last reviewed on
24 Nov 2023
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