Lucy Muchiri of Eve’sMama is a consultant midwife and breastfeeding counselor. She provides answers to frequently asked questions about breastfeeding.
Q: When does a pregnant mum start producing breast milk?
A: During pregnancy, the hormone prolactin increases and is responsible for enlarging the breasts and milk formation. Milk formation happens by the sixth month of pregnancy. By the eighth month, most women have pre-milk also known as colostrum. Colostrum is the milk that the baby first takes after birth.
Fact: 95% of women have milk by the time their baby is born.
Q: Breast Size and Lactation: Which produces more milk the big bust or the smaller one and will my breasts go back to normal.
A: The fact is breast size does not determine milk production. Women with a smaller bust are assumed to have more milk. However, what they have is less storage so their breasts fill up faster as compared to those with a bigger bust. So no matter your breast size, you will have enough milk for your baby.
After breastfeeding your bust size may or may not go back to your pre-pregnancy size. Women with a smaller bust might actually end up a size smaller after breastfeeding. Exercising during your postnatal time will help you regain your pre-pregnancy size.
A: Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding. Initiate breastfeeding immediately after the birth or not more than two hours after birth. The initial days, feed on demand and avoid giving baby other foods. Avoid teats and soothers till baby has learnt to breast feed. Get as much help and support as you can.
Q: How does one prevent sore and cracked nipples?
A: Often referred to as the breastfeeding couple, sore and cracked nipples can make breastfeeding painful. A good place to start is while pregnant. Prepare your nipples for latching. Flat and inverted nipples predispose you to sore and cracked nipples.
A good position while breastfeeding is very important. Poor latching leads to poor letdown, poor letdown makes the baby suck hard and this causes soreness. Ensure the baby has a good latch and is always facing the breast.
After feeding your baby, release the suction from the baby before removing your breast. A good old golden practice is to apply milk around the nipple, it acts as a protector. Expose the breast to the air for a while to allow it to dry.
Q: How often should I breastfeed?
A: Before your milk supply is established, breastfeeding should be “on demand” (when your baby is hungry). Most babies at this time will feed every 1½ to 3 hours.
As you newborn baby grows, they will tend to breastfeed less frequently. They will be able to develop their own, more reliable schedule. Some babies will feed every 1½ hours, while others might go 2 or 3 hours between feeds.
It is important that you do not let your newborn baby go for more than 4 hours without feeding, even at night.
A: The most important thing for a good latch is Position. That means both you and your baby are comfortable. Use a breastfeeding support pillow as that always helps you achieve a comfortable position. Bring baby to you and make sure you are tummy-to-tummy with baby at all times with baby’s nose directly opposite the nipple. Hold the breast using a “C” or “U” hold. A nipple touch to baby’s upper lip stimulates them to open the mouth. Allow baby to latch on themselves.
A good latch will usually result in a deep pulling sensation in your breast. Baby’s bottom and top lip are flanged out like fish lips. The Chin is touching your breast and there are circular movements of baby’s jaw. You can here sucking and swallowing noises.”