For millions of years, mothers across the world have breastfed their children. Mother and child forge a unique bond during that wonderful, intimate time. Breastfeeding is the most natural, organic and comprehensive form of nutrition for your baby. Good preparation increases your chances of breastfeeding successfully.However, if you search for information on breastfeeding, you may soon end up in a ‘breast milk maze’. Not to worry. We’re to help you and answer all your questions.
During your pregnancy, your body is already setting up its own little factory. Your body is preparing to breastfeed. After you’ve given birth, your breasts will start to produce milk for the first time. This milk is called the ‘colostrum’ and is rich in proteins and antibodies that help your baby develop its immune system. Your breasts may start secreting a little milk during pregnancy, but milk production starts properly once your baby is born. The composition of your breast milk changes in line with your baby’s development. Mother Nature makes sure your breastfeeding perfectly aligns with your baby’s needs. For the next six months, you can offer your baby everything he or she needs in order to grow and develop. Even when you experiment with other foods after that, breast milk will still be a key source of nutrition for your little one.
Breast milk contains exactly the correct amounts of nutrients your baby needs to support their growth and development. Your breast milk is rich in proteins, good bacteria and antibodies that protect against diseases and allergies. It gives your baby’s immune system a real boost. Besides healthy nutrition, breastfeeding will also create a feeling of security, connection and trust. Hormones are released that will help your baby cope with stress. Your baby will also benefit from breast milk in the future, as children who have been breastfed are less likely to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. And we haven’t even mentioned the benefits for mothers yet. Breast milk is always readily available, and at the right temperature too. It’s very convenient as you don’t have to get out of bed during the night to prepare a bottle. Breastfeeding also helps the uterus recover faster and helps you return to your pre-pregnancy weight more quickly.
And, last but not least: breastfeeding is completely free!
A newborn baby has a number of natural feeding reflexes. From the moment your baby is with you, he or she will explore and get to know you. After your baby is born, try to give your baby uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact for at least an hour by lying him or her naked on your bare chest. Your baby will search for your breast and will be able to have their first feed while latched onto the breast during skin-to-skin contact. Try to use your baby’s feeding reflexes as best as possible. If it doesn’t go smoothly straight away, don’t worry! Just remember: practice makes perfect. Take your time. After all, you’re both learning how to do this.
During the first few days, your nipples may be a little sensitive while the baby is sucking on your breast. If this pain persists, the nipple and areola may not be deep enough in the baby’s mouth. Latching your baby on again may help. Don’t worry! Practice makes perfect. If you are in constant pain while feeding and it’s not becoming any more comfortable, it may be wise to seek breastfeeding support.
You have latched your baby on well if:
If you don’t manage to feed your baby straight away, start pumping as soon as possible. That way, you can start breastfeeding as soon as possible and help keep your milk flowing. If your baby drinks from your breast, a ‘let-down reflex’ will be triggered automatically. The milk is sent from all areas of the breast to the nipple. It can take practice to stimulate that reflex while pumping. If you are pumping in order to initiate milk production, you should be pumping at least eight times every 24 hours. If you are pumping before going to work or before a day out, you can start pumping at the times your baby would usually be fed.
All mothers and babies are different. For some, breastfeeding goes without a hitch and for others, it can take a little longer to master the art of breastfeeding. Some people require a little extra help. If you have any questions or concerns, our experts are here to help you.
You can always fall back on your maternity nurse during your postnatal period. Each team of maternity nurses at our Borstvoeding Expertisecentrum has a qualified Breastfeeding Coach who, alongside her work as a maternity nurse, is the main point of contact for colleagues and your midwife for breastfeeding-related questions during and around your postnatal period. Our Breastfeeding Coaches are also supported by our Lactation Expert.Not sure whether your baby is latching on properly? The maternity nurse will help you and give you information, tips and advice. If you can’t manage it together, a Lactation Consultant is always on hand to provide support.
Sometimes, breastfeeding does not go to plan. Many different problems may arise, such as your baby refusing to latch onto your breast, pain during feeds, delayed development and uncertainty about whether your baby is feeding properly. In these and all other cases, you can request support from a Lactation Consultant. These consultants are specially trained and can give you advice and support with a wide range of breastfeeding problems. Our Borstvoeding Expertisecentrum [‘Breastfeeding Expertise Centre’], offers lactation counselling during pregnancy and during and after the postnatal period. Not a Kraamzorg Het Groene Kruis client? No problem – you can still contact the Borstvoeding Expertisecentrum.
To find out more about how to initiate breastfeeding after giving birth, sign up for a breastfeeding information session. Partners are more than welcome to join! These sessions are provided by Breastfeeding Coaches from Het Groene Kruis, who explain how to start breastfeeding. There’s also plenty of opportunity to ask questions. Go to our calendar for a summary of all our courses.