The number one question I am asked from new mums is what are the most important things I can do to get breastfeeding right?
Learn as much as possible
Make it a priority to learn as much as you can. Breastfeeding is a natural process, but nevertheless a learned one. Most mums will say they are taken by surprise by how hard the early weeks are.
I recommend attending any classes you can, and use the internet and the countless videos on newborn feeding as your free study course on newborn feeding behaviour. You could also consider joining your local breastfeeding association group.
Eat well, drink enough water and care for yourself during pregnancy and after. Putting good things in your body means you have good resources to put out.
Don’t forget your emotional wellbeing too. Get your support team around you to keep up your spirits, encourage you and help with other tasks so you can concentrate on learning about your baby and feeding.
The first day
The first day, offer plenty of skin-on-skin contact with your baby and offer a feed ideally in the first hour and before baby is separated from you. Where this isn't possible, give yourself and baby the luxury of skin to skin contact when you can get together.
Feed as much as possible
Keep your baby with you and offer frequent feeds. Early feeding is all about frequency, giving lots of practice for baby and plenty of hormonal stimulation for you to create the best milk supply. Routine and spacing of feeds come later. Getting baby back to birth weight and off to a strong start is step one.
Be open to support. Realise that one size fits all advice doesn't apply. Look at advice as many different tools to try rather than a confounding blur.
Spend your time in hospital learning as much as you can and soaking up the knowledge, tips and insights of the midwives. Ask for assistance from your midwifery caregivers if things are tricky and you may be referred to a lactation consultant if you are experiencing complex breastfeeding issues.
Believe in yourself and your baby
Believe you can do it and believe baby can do it. Believe that how it starts off is not how it will be once established. Believe it is worth the investment and physical mastering.
See yourself feeding your three-month-old, cooing and smiling at you and latching on without thinking to inspire you during the hard moments.