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What can I do to make breastfeeding easier for me and my baby?

Regardless of whether you choose to bottle feed or breast feed, there is no disputing the fact that your milk is the best food for your baby

However, like most things in life breastfeeding isn't always a garden of roses. Indeed for some women, it can be nothing short of a nightmare. But even these most problematic cases can benefit greatly from a little help and advice...

Get comfortable
It's paramount that you get yourself in a comfortable position before you begin feeding otherwise you will be counting the seconds until your little cherub has filled her tummy. Whether you prefer to feed sitting up or lying down, you must always remember to support your back. Never bend over to lower your breast to your baby, always bring your baby up to your breast. This not only prevents back pain but it also helps avoid damage to your nipples.

Not just the nipple
Your baby can only get to your lovely milk if she takes the areola into her mouth as well as the nipple. Sucking on the nipple alone will actually close the milk ducts, causing your baby to suck harder, and leaving you with very sore breasts.

When she wants, not when you want
It's important for your baby's growth and development to allow her to feed when she wants to, not just when it's suitable for you. Unlike adults, she wont eat unless she feels hungry so if she wants to suckle, let her.

Sore nipples
Painful nipples are one of the main reasons why some women prefer to bottle feed rather than breastfeed. Although nipple pain when breast feeding cannot always be avoided, it can be helped by following some simple advice. Firstly, as previously mentioned, don't allow your baby to suck directly on the nipple. Secondly, wash your nipples regularly but don't use soap which can strip away their natural lubrication. Thirdly, allow your nipples to dry naturally after washing, as towel drying can cause irritation. And finally, make use of nipple creams - they really do work.

One of the common problems of breastfeeding is mastitis (inflammation of the breast causing swelling, redness, tenderness and sometimes significant pain). This condition can be avoided by addressing engorgement in a prompt manner. If your milk isn't getting a chance to come out, it will gradually get thicker and eventually clog the ducts. It is also beneficial to breastfeed frequently and to avoid restricting the length of feedings. And finally avoid sleeping on your stomach to prevent your breasts becoming compressed against the mattress.

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