Baby is finally here, we think that the hard part is done but quickly comes the questions about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding? If you choose to breastfeed, how does it work in practice? When does the lactation happen? Is it instinctive? Is it painful? Will there be enough milk? On the occasion of the Swiss Breastfeeding Week, in collaboration with Jolly Mama – organic yummy snacks for young mothers, we will give you tips and advice on everything you need to know about breastfeeding and the lactation process.
What exactly is lactation?
At the end of pregnancy, but mainly at birth, the body naturally produces what is called colostrum, a thick, yellow liquid full of micronutrients. The colostrum will, even before you start feeding your child, meet its primary needs. It will then be transformed into thicker milk, richer in lactose. This stage is called lactation.
When does it happen?
Whether you had a natural delivery or a c- section, whether you decide to breastfeed or not, you will experience lactation. It is conditioned by the drop in your postpartum hormones, but another hormone comes in handy, it’s called prolactin. This is what makes breastfeeding possible.
It takes an average of 3 to 4 days (5-6 days at the latest) after your delivery for your milk to come in. We strongly suggest you ask a lactation consultant or a midwife to help you through this process.
What are the signs of lactation?
It varies greatly from one woman to another. Generally, some women’s breasts swell and are tense, while others will not feel anything. Don’t worry, your milk won’t come out by itself or squirt out (smile). Your baby will stimulate the breast while feeding him and that will generate the oxytocin production, which will cause the milk to come out. What a wonderful natural process isn’t it!
How to relieve possible pain related to lactation?
This is going to sound a little strange but the more your child nurses, the less pain you will feel (smile). In the first few weeks, it’s normal for your baby to nurse 12, 15 or more times a day. The more you breastfeed on demand, the less likely you are to get engorged, and the easier it will be for your breastfeeding to settle into place. Each time you nurse, your breasts will be drained and less sensitive. To help your child nurse if your breasts are tense, pinch them to make them easier to hold in the mouth or massage them beforehand.
To relieve pain, several “tips” are suggested, such as :
Cold compresses or wipes (that you will have put in the refrigerator) to be slipped into your bra to favour a better drainage and reduce oedemas.
- Silver cups that you can find in pharmacies. They are worn between feedings and have a healing effect when you have nipple cracks. They are made of solid silver which has bactericidal and healing properties. Or the famous breastfeeding shells.
- A hot shower to relieve tense breasts. Run hot water over your breasts or soak them in a bowl of hot water while massaging them to drain them.
- Green cabbage leaves by pressing them well beforehand to release their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and place them on your breasts for about twenty minutes.
- Specific gestures/massages. Ask a midwife or lactation consultant to show you the procedure.
But most of the time, having your baby nurse is the best way to prevent or relieve engorgement!
How to stimulate the lactation?
First of all, don’t look at your watch and try to relax as much as possible. Immediately after birth, your child will be put on you. Instinctively, it will look for your breast attracted by their smell identical to that of amniotic fluid.
During the first weeks, it is important to let your child nurse on demand because only he knows how much milk he needs. Do not set specific goals such as having 3-4 hours breaks between feedings. Trust your child. Know that it is completely normal in the first few days to breastfeed every hour or two. The more your child drinks, the more milk you will produce. Your child is not only nursing to feed himself, but also to feel protected by being with you.
How long does each feed last?
There is no rule, but we advise you to let your child nurse as much as he wants. For some, 20 minutes will do it, while for others it can take up to 45 minutes per breast. Before giving him the second one, wait until he lets go of the first one spontaneously. You can start with the other breast at the next feed. During the first weeks, a baby can, on average, suckle 8 to 12 times in 24 hours, or even more.
Just because your baby is still nursing does not mean that you are not producing enough milk or that he is having trouble sucking. You can be sure that he is getting enough milk if he wets his diapers between 5 to 7 times a day.
During growth peaks (between the ages of 2-3 weeks, at 6 weeks and at 3 months) your child will need to take in a lot of milk. Let him do so, without paying attention to timing and frequency.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help!
Breastfeeding can be easy for some and complicated for others. If you want to breastfeed but it doesn’t work or is painful, ask for help! Above all, don’t be alone. Surround yourself with a midwife or lactation consultant who will be able to advise you by checking that your position is optimal while breastfeeding (if not, painful cracks may appear) but also by making sure that your child is able to take it properly. Some people may have a problem with the brakes, i.e. a tongue that is too attached to the palate and does not allow the tongue to move properly.
MotherStories is there for you if you want to talk or be advised. Our network of specialists can help you find the contact of a midwife or lactation specialist close to you but especially recommended by mothers in the community.
As a young mother, taking care of yourself is fundamental! You need to create a calm environment that is propitious to breastfeeding. It is important to know that stress can block the production of oxytocin, which has an influence on the milk ejection reflex. Try to gently make your entourage understand that you need to be alone with your baby, especially during the first few days. Pamper yourself and don’t put pressure on yourself by comparing yourself to other moms or by setting too high and ambitious goals. Be forgiving and caring.
We wish you all a serene and fulfilling breastfeeding.
We mentioned Jolly Mama in the introduction with whom we collaborated on the occasion of the Swiss Breastfeeding Week. This brand of organic and healthy snacks for young mothers (but also pregnant women) is an ideal companion during your breastfeeding adventure. They are enriched with fenugreek, among other things, to help your lactation. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals and are delicious.
Discover without further hesitation the Jolly Mama website, a real gold mine of information, and practical advice related to breastfeeding.