By Faeza
07 August 2015

According to The World Health Organisation, if every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800 000 child lives would be saved every year1.

This month 1-7 August marks World Breastfeeding Week, and puts the spotlight on the importance of breast feeding your child. Breast milk contains all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life and is also filled with disease-fighting substances that help protect your baby from illnesses2.

“Getting your baby to breastfeed comfortably requires practice and patience,” says Marié Hattingh, Clinic Manager and Birth Basics Co-ordinator from Genesis Clinic. Below Hattingh shares useful tips to ease the process.

Research and practice

Before your baby arrives, read up on the process and take antenatal classes, many hospitals and birthing centres provide these.

Antenatal classes usually include ‘how to’ videos as well as allow people to rehearse with dolls to allow you to get comfortable with the process. Antenatal classes are also good for connecting with other new moms-to-be who can be an invaluable source of support should you have questions or problems.

Skin to skin

In the first few days, where possible lay your baby on your chest, tummy to tummy, undressed down to the diaper. Skin to skin contact at this time is known to stimulate these instincts, encouraging your baby to look for the breast and to start feeding, usually within an hour or two of birth3.

Get comfortable

Once you start breastfeeding, it’s important to do what feels good for you. Find a relaxed position that you can stay in for a while. There are numerous postures and these include: the reclined (usually about 45 degrees), the cradle and the cross-over hold to name a few5.

For support, it is recommended that you sit in a comfortable chair with armrests and use pillows to lend extra support to your back and arms.