New Mum Survival Guide: Breastfeeding


Everything you need to know about breastfeeding

How soon after birth should I start breastfeeding and what is the best way to do it?

If mother and baby are well with no medical concerns, initiation of breastfeeding will start within an hour by placing the baby on mum’s chest, skin-to-skin after birth.

What do I do if baby won’t take my nipple? How do I help baby to attach properly?

Observing babies on their early hunger cues eases the latch. It is also important for mums to be comfortable with support pillows as babies are growing fast.

How many times a day can I expect to breastfeed? Will this change over the months?

On average, babies feed per demand for every two to three hours.  If the baby is not demanding, in every three hours, gently wake the baby up with the gentle touch or check the diaper. The touching or changing the diaper will wake the baby. Position the unswaddled baby against mum as mum’s body warmth will keep the baby warm. Frequency of feeding will get better because baby will adjust to mum’s volume accordingly.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough at each feed?

Dad’s job – to check the diapers. Output will show that baby is getting enough. From Day Four onwards, baby will pass urine at least six times and poop two to five times. As mum’s milk volume gets more established, baby will feed and poop more regularly and repeat the process again.

How many months can I expect to breastfeed for and how long will my body keep producing milk?

World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months (baby will receive breast milk only without any additional food or drink including water).  Start baby foods from six months onwards while continuing breastfeeding for up to two years and beyond.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

B– Best and ideal food for the baby

R– Reduces the chance of severe post-partum bleeding

E– Expedite the return of womb to pre-pregnancy size

A– Antibody rich colostrum protects the baby from infectious and chronic diseases

S– Security and comfort for both mum and baby

T– Temperature of breast milk is ideal, breastfeeding makes it convenient

F– Free and instant

E– Economical

E– Earth-friendly

D-Decreases the risk of women cancer

I– Increases mother’s metabolism

N-Nurtures and fulfills the child’s psycho-social and physical needs

G-Greatest milk of all!

What should I be eating during my breastfeeding months? Do I need to eat more or add anything special to my diet?

Mum’s diet should be balanced with a variety of food sources with no overeating. Whatever eaten will be in the breast milk. Therefore mums should have healthy choices of food. Food energies can help mums with broken sleep and heal post-delivery wound.

How do I mix breast milk and formula? Is that an option?

If mum is about to go to work or needs to run some errands, expressed breast milk is the best supplement for the baby. It is not necessary to mix with other milk. However, if formula is needed, feed baby with breast milk first then top it up with formula. This is because, if breast milk and formula combined and baby is unable to finish the milk, the precious breast milk will be wasted.

Under what medical/physical/emotional conditions would I be unable to breastfeed?

From World Health Organization, “Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.”

If I really hate breastfeeding, what do I do? Will I stop producing milk if I don’t breastfeed? Will my breasts hurt?

There is an option of expressing breast milk using the breast pump to collect the milk if one is unable to breastfeed directly. The breast will hurt if mum abruptly stops breastfeeding or expressing due to engorgement and may lead to plugged duct and possibly mastitis (infection of the breast). Weaning should be gradual. Babies demand in breastfeeding will be lesser after six months as baby starts eating baby foods.

Must I avoid alcohol?

Yes, as it will be in the breast milk as soon as mum ingested it. If mum has taken alcoholic drink, she needs to wait for at least three hours before breastfeeding or expressing milk.

Can I store my breast milk? What’s the best way to do it?

Guidelines from Health Promotion Board:

Storage of expressed breast milk(EBM) Recommended Storage Duration 
EBM at room temperature of 25°C        4 hours 
EBM in a cooler with ice pack at 15°C     24 hours
EBM freshly expressed and stored in the fridge at 4°C   48 hours
Frozen milk in 2 door fridge stored at -5°C to -15°C 3 – 6 months
Frozen milk in deep freezer at -20°c         6 – 12 months
Thawed breast milk stored in the fridge 24 hours at 4°C

Thawing Process

  1. Thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator or in a cup of warm water
  2. Use the breast milk immediately or within one hour
  3. Avoid boiling or heating breast milk in a microwave

Notes: Mothers should speak to the Doctor or Lactation Consultant if she encounters any problems with breastfeeding.

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