It is never too early to start thinking about breastfeeding your baby.
Breastfeeding positions and concerns
Every parent wants the best for their baby and it is important to start right. Breast milk is the perfect nourishment for your baby.
Why is breastfeeding best for my baby?
Why is breastfeeding best for me too?
Why is breastfeeding good for the family and the community?
How long should I breastfeed?
For optimal growth, development and health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommend exclusive breastfeeding (with no other food or drink) for the first 6 months (i.e. 180 days) of a baby's life. Mothers are encouraged to continue breastfeeding their children until they are 12 months old and thereafter as long as mutually desired, together with the timely introduction of solid food from 6 months of age.
How do I prepare for breastfeeding?
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.
What is required for 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:
When and how should I initiate breastfeeding?
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:
What are the signs of a good latch?
Suck > Swallow> Breathe (pause) rhythm
How should I position my baby to feed him?
You can breastfeed sitting or lying down.
You can breastfeed in various positions. Pick a position that is comfortable for you.
If you have any problems, approach your hospital’s lactation consultants for help.
Breastfeeding at work
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.
Expressing breast milk
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?
Storage of the expressed milk
Frequently asked questions on breastfeeding
Breastfeeding may sound challenging initially, but once baby latches successfully, it is fulfilling and enjoyable. These are some common questions that you may have:
Q: What is “let-down reflex”?
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!
Q: If milk production comes later, will my baby “starve” in the first few days?
When you first start breastfeeding, your first milk is colostrum which is:
Mature breast milk consists of:
Q: Will I have sufficient milk?
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,
Q: How do I know that my baby is getting enough milk?
If your baby has had enough,
Q: How long and how often do I feed my baby?
Q: If I latch my baby on and at times feed him expressed breast milk from a bottle, will it confuse him?
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.
Q: My baby gets hungry very quickly all of a sudden. Is it because I am not producing enough milk?
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.
Q: What about breastfeeding premature babies?
Premature babies often have medical problems that require close monitoring in the hospital.
Mothers of premature babies can:
Q: What are the risks of not breastfeeding?
Babies who are not breastfed are at greater risk for:
Mothers who do not breastfeed are at greater risk for:
Q: Can I breastfeed after six months?
You can breastfeed up to one year 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.
Tips for successful breastfeeding
Video: Breastfeeding Commonly Asked Questions
Find answers to some commonly asked questions about breastfeeding, together with tips to help you with your breastfeeding journey.
Contributed By: Health Promotion Board