Confused by different advice on breastfeeding your baby? Health visitor Annette Maloney answers your questions...
Q: I’ve been breastfeeding at home for the first few weeks but now I’m going out more I feel nervous about breastfeeding in public. How can I feel more at ease?
A: It can feel scary when you practise your new skill of breastfeeding in public for the first time, but don’t feel embarrassed – your baby has a right to a feed. Until you get your confidence up, plan in advance where you’re going to breastfeed and make sure you will be able to find breastfeeding facilities.
Bigger shops will have a designated area, while restaurants and cafes where you see young families gathering will probably be breastfeeding friendly. If you ask establishments where you can breastfeed, don’t be fobbed off with the toilet.
Wear easy-access clothes, such as a feeding bra that you can open and close one-handed and look for somewhere to sit away from prying eyes if that’ll help you relax.
Draping a scarf or baby blanket over your shoulder will also give you added privacy. But in reality, when your baby is feeding it’ll just look as if he’s having a cuddle.
Q: I’m going back to work soon, so I want to cut down on my 8-month-old’s breastfeeds by using a bottle. Any tips?
A: We all know breast is best for your baby, but if you want to change your baby’s diet before you head back to work, or spend time away from your baby, it’s a good idea to do it gradually to give you both time to adapt. Try offering a formula feed when your baby isn’t too hungry and is fairly relaxed – mornings are a good time.
Using formula milk will affect the amount of breast milk you produce, so you’ll need to keep your supply up if you still want to breastfeed. To help with this, lots of mums breastfeed before and after work and use formula milk during the day.
Some babies take a little time to get used to new feeding routines, so you’ll need to be calm and persistent. Talk it through with your nursery or childminder, who can work with you to establish a new feeding pattern for your little one.
Q: My 6-month-old baby has started biting my boob when he breastfeeds. How can I stop him?
A: It could be that your baby is teething, which means his gums will be swollen and sore and that’s why he’s beginning to chew or bite when feeding.
Try offering a cool teething toy, chilled carrot or slither of cucumber before you put him on the breast to reduce any sensitivity in his gums. Most babies quickly get the message that biting isn’t a good idea when a startled mum removes him quickly from the breast.
To get him off safely and with as little pain as possible, pull him in close and partially block his nose by putting your finger over one nostril. He’ll remove his mouth to breathe.
Most biting occurs when the feed’s coming to an end, so if you can predict this you can get away in time. Giving lots of positive attention when the feed goes well with no biting will also teach your baby to stop.
Q: When I’m breastfeeding my 7-month-old baby he keeps coming off the breast and struggles to finish a feed. What can I do?
A: There might be a few things going on. At this stage babies are very interested in what’s happening around them and are easily distracted.
Try feeding him away from the TV or other children for a bit. Pop into a quiet room and face the wall, so he has no option but to focus on feeding and maintain eye contact with him to keep his attention.
It could be that now he’s on a weaning diet his feeds are shorter, because it’s all he needs at this stage of his growth.
You might also have got more relaxed about your attachment technique, so check he’s opening his mouth wide enough, can tilt his head and swallows properly.
As long as he has regular wet nappies, and keeps to his usual bowel habits, you probably don’t need to worry. See how it goes for a week or so and if you’re still worried, visit your local breastfeeding support group.
To read more expert tips from Annette Maloney get a copy of Practical Parenting & Pregnancy magazine and find out about fantastic subscription offers.
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