Beginners Guide to Breastfeeding

What are the benefits of breastfeeding? How long should you wait between feeds? All is answered in this easy-to-read beginners guide to breastfeeding!

When I first started breastfeeding in the hospital after I had Kiiara, it was a bit of a learning curve for the both of us even though I did it before with Aurora.

Every baby is different and they have to learn how to latch on correctly otherwise you could end up with very sore nipples and a very ‘hangry’ baby!

I’ve written some useful tips that can help you on your way to breastfeeding your new baby.

Tip 1: Don’t rush it. It always helps to do skin-to-skin with baby when they are first born – that way you acquire a bond and will make it easier for you later.

Tip 2: Try to relax. Baby will sense your frustration and it will make it more difficult for the both of you.

Tip 3: Don’t forget to always ask for help if you need it – That’s what the midwives are there for. No matter how many times you need it, don’t feel like you’re wasting their time – after all it is part of their job!

Tip 4: When you and baby manage to get the latch right, you should feel comfortable feeding and be able to see and hear your baby swallowing. If you feel uncomfortable, break the latch by placing your finger in your baby’s mouth and slowly remove your nipple and try again.

Tip 5: Make sure you have plenty of snacks and drinks close-by because baby can need feeding for quite a while in the beginning, especially if they are anything like Kiiara!

Tip 6: If you are going out and feel like you can’t feed in public, you can always use a breast pump so that you can express ready to put in a bottle if that would make you feel more comfortable (using a breast pump rather than formula will prevent your milk from drying out too). Just go for it!

Alternatively you could get a breastfeeding cover which I’ve used before when feeding Aurora.

There are also some breastfeeding-friendly cafes around, but baby will need feeding when he/she gets hungry so don’t be afraid to just give your baby a feed when he/she requests it.

You may encounter some judgemental people around, but don’t let them put you off! It’s a natural process and it’s nothing to be ashamed of!

Many mum’s are beginning to choose breastfeeding as their source of baby’s milk – it’s a fairly common thing to do nowadays, so don’t feel like you are all alone in this.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has many benefits, for example after you have your baby it can reduce the time you bleed for, and it keeps your periods at bay for longer (in my eyes that’s a bonus!).

Here’s a few other benefits that might sway your decision to breastfeed your child:

  • You lose your baby weight quicker
  • It reduces your chance of getting cervical and ovarian cancer
  • Quality bonding time between you and your baby
  • Save yourself money not having to buy formula milk
  • Save time not having to get up in the middle of the night to make bottles
  • Your baby will receive better immunity from illnesses

Support from your partner

Getting support from your partner is always important, but if you don’t have a partner, support from your friends and family is equally as important.

Even if its just to talk to them about your experience, or just a general rant on how sore your nipples are or how tired you are, it can make all the difference!

Your partner or family/friends could also support you in the early stages by helping with housework or helping with the other children (if you have any).

It was a Godsend having my partners’ dad around for the first week when we brought Kiiara home. It was especially helpful in the first few days when my milk first came in because Kiiara needed feeding every 20 minutes or so.

If you have a partner and you are worried about them bonding with your baby because you spend most of the day with baby breastfeeding him/her, try not to worry too much as there are alternative ways he/she can bond with them.

For example

  • Cuddles,
  • Changing those smelly nappies,
  • Bathing baby,
  • Talking to baby,
  • And also if you *express, they could feed baby too!

My partner also sings to Kiiara to calm her down. She seems to enjoy it but i’m not sure whether that’s because she’s humoured by his singing or whether she’s genuinely enjoying it!

   *Expressing is when you pump from your breast to release the milk. You can do that if you need to go out and aren’t comfortable feeding in public.

Knowing When Baby Needs Feeding

There are little cues to look out for to know when baby needs feeding other than the obvious crying.

Things to look out for include:

  • Trying to eat their own hands/ putting their hands in their mouths,
  • Head rotates around looking for the breast.

If you were wondering about how long you need to wait between feeds, generally a breastfed baby should be fed on-demand, but don’t go any longer than 4 hours without him/her being fed.

If you have other children like me, sometimes it can be quite difficult to feed on-demand as you have to deal with them all, so its okay for your baby, when she/he’s a little older, to have a bit of a cry before you can get over to them to feed.

You could also try multi-tasking (like I’ve managed to accomplish with much practice) by putting him/her on the breast whilst doing other simple tasks.

Don’t over exert yourself though by doing heavy handed or dangerous tasks – you don’t want to harm your baby whilst you’re feeding them!

Winding a Breastfed Baby

Winding a breastfed baby is the same as winding a formula-fed baby, but they will usually have less wind to bring up.

It can also depend on the baby itself. Aurora was never a gassy baby, nor a sicky baby either but Kiiara is totally different even though they have both been breastfed.

I swear Kiiara was meant to be a boy because she farts and burps like a man and she’s also a very sicky baby. It’s amazing how different they both are to each other despite having the same dad!

Does Breastfeeding Protect You Against Pregnancy?

It’s the ultimate question some people ask shortly after having a baby when they look to the benefits of breastfeeding.

Well the answer to that is a yes and a no. It can be used as a form of contraception for a short while, but only if you breastfeed full-time, and it’s only 98% effective so there’s still is a good chance you could get pregnant.

You need to meet these requirements if you want to use it as a contraception:

  • Breastfeeding on-demand day and night
  • You haven’t got your periods back
  • You don’t express too often for baby to feed from a bottle
  • No use of dummies (as it may confuse baby and put them off feeding from your breast)

To be on the safe side, I would recommend using other forms of contraception if you don’t fancy becoming pregnant again anytime soon.

I used breastfeeding and had charted my cycle for a while after I had Aurora. It worked quite well up until I got my periods back and then one month, my cycle altered so I was unable to figure out I was fertile. Next thing I knew I was pregnant with Kiiara!

Best thing to remember is that you have got this! Nobody is perfect and it takes practice no matter how long you breastfeed for – Be proud of yourself for trying because YOU DID IT!

Let your partner, friend or family support you through it and at the end of it all, you’ll feel great knowing that you have accomplished it.

Hope you the best of luck through your breastfeeding days!

If you need any more help or advice, or even just a general chat about my experiences, please don’t hesitate to contact me!


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Author: Zoe

Hi! I'm Zoe Williams. I am a mum of 4 children and I am in a happy relationship with my partner Liam. I like reading, writing and various other activities. I like spending time with the kids and now I am here to blog about it.

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