One of the things I love most about being a lactation consultant is that I get to see small babies every day. I never cease to be amazed at how incredible and beautifully unique they all are. The other amazing thing is that babies come ready made with an instinct for breastfeeding. Nicola O’Byrne – RGN RCN IBCLC
We know that while in the womb babies grow and develop physically, but they also use those 9 months to learn and practice the skills that will enable them to breastfeed once they are born, such as hand movements, sucking skills, swallowing and rooting behaviour. They become familiar with your smell and the taste of your amniotic fluid. When they are born and placed in skin-to-skin contact on your chest, they are in a place that is familiar to them. They can feel your heartbeat, feel the warmth of your body and smell your milk.
It is this sense of smell that helps to trigger your baby’s instincts and allows them to find the breast. With a little bit of support and given time, most babies will ‘crawl’ to the breast and latch on themselves within the first hour after birth. Just Google ‘newborn breast crawl’ and you will no doubt find videos of babies exhibiting this amazing, instinctive behaviour. So if you’re planning to breastfeed, keeping your baby in skin-to-skin contact after you’ve given birth is the best start you both could get.
Trust in your baby’s instincts, as well as your own and think of this first hour after birth and your time to welcome your baby into the world. We know the mothers who hold their newborn babies skin-to-skin after birth have increased maternal behaviours, show more confidence in caring for their babies and breastfeed longer. Like many things in life, breastfeeding is a skill that is learned over time. Some women find it plain sailing from the start, while others are faced with common challenges. There is a breastfeeding solution for every breastfeeding problem.
Sometimes all it takes is a small adjustment, or reassurance that your instincts are right, or that what your baby is doing or you are feeling is ‘normal’. And sometimes mothers need more skilled help from a lactation consultant. Support and early help is the key to achieving your breastfeeding goals.
Breastfeeding classes are suitable for first time mothers or if it’s your second, or third baby! Most of the time, one consultation gets you and your baby breastfeeding beautifully and then you can ‘graduate’ onto support groups and out into the coffee shops! Breastfeeding your baby truly is a wonderful thing. It takes time to grow a baby and it takes time to learn to breastfeed.