RD Breastfeeding – what do you want to know?

Our health visitor tackles your queries and questions on breastfeeding

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Q: I’m breastfeeding and find that I’m leaking milk. Is this normal and what can I do about it?

A: Leaking milk shows lactation is going well. Some mums leak a lot while others never do. Either way, it’s not a direct indication of too much milk and is due to the hormone oxytocin, present when the letdown reflex stimulates milk release. Leaking generally settles down in the first few months, though not always. Allowing your baby frequent, unrestricted feeds might help. You could also apply firm pressure to the breast if you feel the tingle of the letdown reflex. You can do this discretely in public if you cross your arms across your chest and hug yourself or press your forearms against your chest.

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If you’re at home, collect excess milk to freeze and use later. Use breast pads and choose tops with busy prints to provide camouflage.

Q: I tried to breastfeed my son but didn’t have enough milk. I want to feed my second baby, due in four weeks. Could the same thing happen?

A: It’s unusual for a mum to be unable to breastfeed due to insufficient milk production. But perceived insufficiency is one of the most common reasons for giving up. At least your first experience has made you aware of the potential pitfalls.

Breastfeeding works on simple supply and demand. The more your baby goes to the breast, the more you’ll produce. Little ones have growth spurts, leading to a few days of constant feeding. This means your milk supply will be boosted,  and isn’t a sign that you’re not producing enough.

Talk to your midwife and a breastfeeding counsellor before you give birth. This is a different baby and you’re a more experienced mum now. There’s an excellent chance of success.

Q: My baby is now 5 weeks old and my mum says I should only breastfeed her every three hours. She definitely feeds more often than that, and is gaining weight well. What should I do?

A: After 5 weeks of successful breastfeeding, you’re the expert on what your baby needs. Feeding on demand ensures a good supply of milk, as demonstrated by her healthy weight gain. In the early days it’s normal for babies to have 8 to 12 breastfeeds in a 24 hours period. Keep it up for now, and she’ll continue to bloom.

Q: My 3 week old baby often brings up some milk after a feed. Why is he sick?

A: It’s worrying when babies vomit, as it can be the first sign that they’re unwell. But for some little ones, ‘regurgitating’ or ‘posseting’ small amounts of milk is just their way.

Babies have very small tummies, which act as a reservoir for milk. If your newborn keeps feeding once his tummy’ full, the extra milk has no where to go other than up! As long as he’s growing well, and being sick doesn’t go hand in hand with any other symptoms, it’s nothing to worry about.

Q: Can I overfeed my son formula? He drinks the recommended amount but still seems to want more.

A: Breastfeeding mums often envy those who bottlefeed and know exactly how much milk a baby has or should have. But, as you know, babies rarely follow recommendations! You know your little one best – offer him more milk if you feel he needs it. Monitor his weight at the baby clinic, and just enjoy watching him thrive.

Q: I stopped breastfeeding my first baby after a few days as I felt I didn’t have enough milk. But I really want to breastfeed with my new baby. Could it happen again?

A: Thinking you could have insufficient milk is a common reason for becoming disheartened with breastfeeding. However, only a tiny number of women don’t have enough milk for their babies, and most women can breastfeed for as long as they want.

Far from your first time having a negative influence on feeding again, this time you’ll be better prepared. It can take 2 to 4 weeks to master breastfeeding. The following will make successful breastfeeding more likely:

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  • Offer your baby your breast as soon as she is born
  • Have plenty of skin-to-skin contact with her in the early months of her life
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help learning to attach her to the breast if you need it
  • Exclusively breastfeed when your baby ants and for as long as she wants.10-12 times a day is normal at first.
  • Talk to your midwife and health visitor before the birth. They can advise you on technique.
  • Join a local breastfeeding support group

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