I have only been working for the UK Birth Centres for a few months but have been a midwife for well over 25 years and in that time I have realised that in Britain we have to overcome many social phobias that stand in the way of breast feeding being successful.
One such hindrance is the continued opposition to feeding in public in many parts of the country and until we adopt a 100% acceptance of breast feeding as a physiological norm and babies should be fed where ever and whenever they are hungry then we are hindering many women from feeding successfully.
I am in constant awe at just how amazing the process is! Like anything that seems so simple it can take a library full of books and a whole army of tutors for us to grasp the process. Just like driving a car, when you have been driving for a while you can complete a journey with ease and in safety but on arrival at your destination not have much memory of how you got there! So it is with breast feeding. It is a process of supply and demand and once the baby has latched on well and milks the lactiferous ducts then they will be rewarded with a wonderful whole food complete in every way in fact a bespoke milk containing human protein completely designed for the human baby .
There are now a multitude of studies that show that mothers and babies should be together, skin to skin (baby naked, not wrapped in a blanket), immediately after birth.
As far as breastfeeding is concerned babies who are kept skin to skin with the mother immediately after birth for at least an hour, are more likely to latch on without any help and more likely to do it correctly.
When a baby latches on well, the mother is less likely to be sore. In the first few days, the mother does not have a lot of milk, and a good latch is important to help the baby get the colostrum. If the baby does not latch on well, the mother may be sore, and if the baby does not get milk well, the baby will want to be on the breast for long periods of time worsening the soreness.
Skin to skin contact immediately after birth, which lasts for at least an hour has the following positive effects on the baby:
• more likely to latch on
• more likely to latch on well
• have more stable and normal skin temperatures
• have more stable and normal heart rates and blood pressures
• have higher blood sugars
• are less likely to cry
• are more likely to breastfeed exclusively longer
Make sure you and your baby have uninterrupted skin to skin following the birth.
It is often said that breast feeding is 10% technique and 90% in the mind. So much of the continued success of breast feeding is governed by the Mothers experience and expectations and for that we as the professionals who help to promote and maintain breast feeding must never lose sight of the importance that a Mother should be enjoying the process.