Breastfeeding - where do I start?
And although it's a very natural thing to do, getting it right doesn't always come naturally and easily.
98 out of every 100 women are physiologically capable of breastfeeding! The facts are, many women stop breastfeeding simply because they don't receive the right help and support. REMEMBER - Don't give up! It will get better with time, and the right support.
How do I breastfeed?
Make sure that you get assistance from your midwives whilst you are still in hospital after the birth. They will show you the correct way to feed. If you experience problems, or have any concerns about breastfeeding, for whatever reason, seek help! There are many experienced specialists out there.
One of the most important factors for successful breastfeeding is correct attachment of your child to your breast. If your child is attached correctly, many common problems - such as sore, cracked and/or bleeding nipples - are much less likely to occur.
If you have concerns about breastfeeding, or you have a particular situation relating either to yourself or to your baby which makes breastfeeding more challenging, such as problems with supply, premature or hospitalised baby, allergies and facial abnormalities in your baby, amongst others, help is available from the the following sources:
- Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) - the ABA is a large community-based self-help group, recognised as a leading authority on breastfeeding management. The Association provides counselling and support services to the community and health sector throughout Australia. You will find a wealth of information for breastfeeding women on their website.
- Lactation Consultants & Clinics - Private lactation consultants offer specialist assistance for both common and more unusual breastfeeding concerns. Find your local Lactation Consultant in our directory.
- Local Child Health Clinics - local child & maternal health clinics operate nationally and have trained midwives who can help you with breastfeeding issues or provide advice free of charge.
- Chiropractors - some breastfeeding problems have been associated with spine missalignment caused during the birth process - you may notice your child only turning their head in one direction or favouring feeding on one side only. Chiropractors have had success in treating infants through gentle, painless, spinal adjustments. Find a local Chiropractor with special paediatric interest.
- Other mums - chat to other mums for advice, be it friends, relatives, or members of local mothers groups, although professional advice from the organisations above is always recommended.
- Other breastfeeding and feeding support groups - find details of additional breastfeeding support groups in our helplines and support groups directory.
What equipment will I need?
The only really essential items that you need are well-fitting maternity bras or breastfeeding clothes, but you may also want to purchase or hire some of the following:
- maternity bras & breastfeeding clothing
- basic bottlefeeding equipment (such as bottles and teats)
- breastmilk storage equipment
- feeding pillow
Many of these items are widely available from local general nursery stores, chemists and supermarkets. Our directory lists specialist online suppliers of a whole range of breastfeeding and feeding products.
Breast pumps are devices used to extract milk from the breast so that the baby can be fed breastmilk when the mother is not available. Pumping milk should be a painless process.
Electric pumps are popular if you will need to express often, but a cheaper, manual pump maybe all that you need if you only need to express for the occasional evening out or emergency supply. Breastpumps can be quite expensive items so if you are not sure if you'll need one or not, perhaps consider hiring one to see what type suits you best. For details of companies providing a hire service, go to our nursery equipment & breastpump hire page.
Online information about breastfeeding
The following online resources have masses of information, written by specialists, covering everything from 'how to breastfeed' to more unusual circumstances. Many have photographs and diagrams.
- a wealth of articles from the Australian Breastfeeding Association
- breastfeeding information from the Parenting & Child Health section of the Child & Youth Health website, CYH, South Australia
- range of articles, many including photos and diagrams from Medela
- a US site dedicated to breastfeeding - breastfeeding.com
Healthy nutrition for the breastfeeding mother
It is particularly important to eat a well balanced diet whilst breastfeeding and to ensure that you take sufficient fluids, especially during hot weather. To read about suggested nutritional guidelines for lactation, see the online guides below:
- breastfeeding information from the Parenting & Child Health section of the Child & Youth Health website
- what to eat when breastfeeding from the NHS, UK
- alcohol use by the breastfeeding mother from Medela
Baby Friendly Health Initiative
"The Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) is an international project that aims to give every baby the best start in life by creating a health care environment where breastfeeding is the norm and practices known to promote the health and well-being of all babies and their mothers are followed." We have identified hospitals which have been accredited by the BFHI in our maternity hospitals and midwife managed birthing centres directory listings.
|Having trouble breastfeeding? Pinky McKay, well-known author and internationally certified lactation consultant, has answered a series of questions as our online breastfeeding expert in our community forum. Read Pinky's answers to viewer questions online.