Q: I’ve just found out that I’m 5 weeks pregnant with my third child and am still breastfeeding my second child. Can breastfeeding harm my unborn child?
A: If you’re feeling fine and are happy to continue, there is no reason to stop – in fact some women breastfeed throughout their pregnancies and feed both baby and older child simultaneously. Just be careful about your nutritional intake, a good diet is always important during pregnancy; but especially so while pregnant and breastfeeding. Eat a variety of healthy foods and don’t just rely on nutritional supplements. If you continue to breastfeed after the first trimester you will certainly need more calories and more calcium than the average pregnant woman.
Some babies wean themselves off the breast because the pregnancy hormones can cause a reduction in milk supply and may also change the taste. However, if your toddler is still breastfeeding when your new baby is born and you don’t fancy tandem feeding allow your new baby to feed first. Your older child may manifest feelings of jealously when the new baby feeds. This is normal. Tandem breastfeeding can be stressful, and is not for everyone. Be sure to ask for the help you need, once your new baby is born. Your partner may be thrilled to begin taking on a much more active role with your older child, while you are busy with the new baby.
Q: I am expecting my first baby this September and am looking forward to breastfeeding. My concern is that I have inverted nipples – is there anything I can do to help correct this problem?
A: About one third of mums will experience some degree of inversion, but as the skin changes and becomes more elastic during pregnancy, only about 10% will still have some inversion by the time their baby is born. Flat or inverted nipples may make it more difficult for your baby to nurse, but it should not cause too many problems during breastfeeding. Because your baby forms a teat, not just from the nipple, but also from the surrounding breast tissue, most inverted or flat nipples will not cause problems during breastfeeding. Some types of flat or inverted nipples will cause problems, however, and there are some steps you can take to correct the problem both before and after the baby is born. How much difficulty a flat or inverted nipples presents to a nursing baby depends on the degree of inversion as well as the baby herself. For a baby to nurse effectively, she must be able to grasp the nipple and stretch it forward and upwards against the roof of her mouth. If you have a strong, healthy, full-term, vigorous nurser, she may be able to draw out the nipple with relative ease.
- Breastfeeding tips from our health visitor
- How to breastfeed your baby
- Mum’s story – why breast is best
You may want to use a treatment that is available in the form of a product called the Niplette. This is a relatively cheap device invented by a plastic surgeon. It looks like a transparent nipple-shaped cup with a syringe attached. By following the instructions and using the device for 2 to 3 months, preferably before or in the first 6 months of your pregnancy, your nipples will be prepared for feeding. After your baby is born, you can use a breast pump to draw out a flat or inverted nipple immediately before putting your baby on the breast. Usually, after the first few nursings, the baby’s vigorous sucking will help the tissues protrude and your baby will become better at grasping and drawing the nipple into her mouth as she gets bigger and stronger. This said, the best advice is still to consult your midwife or lactation consultant.
Q: Even after feeding, my baby is crying a lot. Why is this? I find it really hard to know the cause.
A: Crying is normal for a baby. It is their first communication tool and many babies cry an average of one to two hours a day. Newborns are helpless, so this is the only language they have to invite you to respond to their needs. Some babies do seem to cry more, making it difficult to comfort them. This can create anxiety in new parents and this in turn can project itself back to baby.
Some reasons for crying:
- Hunger. Baby’s feeding needs may change week by week so offer her more milk.
- Physical comfort. Most babies like to feel safe and warm so they may dose contentedly in your arms before they are put in their cot.
- Trapped wind. By holding her upright you may be able to help relieve this. You may hear a welcome burp.
- Dirty nappy. Some babies dislike having a dirt nappy while others don’t mind at all. Have a quick feel, and change the nappy if needed.
- Too hot or too cold. Newborn are not very good at keeping an even temperature. Check if she appears red or hot or does she look pale and feel cold? Adjust clothing and room temperature accordingly.
- Over stimulation. For any newborn, loud noises, bright lights or laughing can be too much. In time, baby will get used to these sounds.
- Boredom. Interaction and play are all part of learning. If she has been wide awake in her cot for some time, pick her up and gently talk to her.
Although hearing a newborn cry can be distressing, over time you will become tuned in to your baby’s crying and even the specific reasons for it. Learn to trust your instinct in knowing what is wrong and how to soothe your baby.