The first few hours after birth are very important for the start of your breastfeeding relationship because the rooting and sucking reflexes are especially pronounced at this time. The breastfeeding relationship gets off to the best start if the baby is placed naked on the mother’s tummy after birth and stays there until he or she sucks at the breast. Sometimes babies may move towards the breast (breast crawl) by themselves and take it without being helped by anyone.
If this is not possible to place baby on the mother’s tummy straight after giving birth, it can be done at a later time. Lay your naked baby directly on your naked breast (kangaroo care) for a few hours. This will encourage milk production and help to establish your relationship with baby.
When the milk comes in
The milk comes in gradually between the 2nd and 4th day after birth (sometimes on the 6th or 7th day too, and not until the 10th to 14th day in women with premature babies) marking the change from first milk to mature breast milk. The breasts become warmer, bigger and full. The amount of milk increases. This process is often accompanied by swelling of the inner glands which makes the breasts hard and painful. It is possible to prevent swelling of the breast glands by breastfeeding frequently from birth onwards and giving your breasts short, gentle massages. If you still experience pain when the milk comes in despite of this, try follow some of these methods to assist in making it easier for your baby to latch on:
- Empty each breast regularly by putting your baby to the breast frequently or by expressing, e.g. with a Carum electric breastpump.
- A short pumping session before a feed can relieve the tension so that the baby can take the breast more easily.
- If the areolar region is very swollen, reverse pressure softening can help; this involves gently pressing the nipple area inwards toward the ribs with the tips of your fingers (Reverse pressure softening method).
- Cold compresses after breastfeeds – using the Temperature Pack for example – can also be helpful.
Article adapted from ardo-medical.com