Breastfeeding Older Babies
Emma Howard discusses the topic of breastfeeding, like how to breastfeed an older baby.
Emma Howard: Hello! I'm Emma Howard and we're talking about breastfeeding here on the Baby Channel. With me is Heather Welford who is an NCT Breastfeeding Counselor and next to you we've got Tara and four-and-a-half-month-old Ruby who is just latched on, she couldn't quite wait for us. Well, she is enjoying it. She is also pulling up, you're at that stage where she's fidgeting.
Tara Wilkinson: Yes, very much so.
Emma Howard: Actually, I talked to Heather about the stage that we're watching here. This is a baby who is disparate to breastfed. She is also pulling off and looking around. This is a new stage, isn't it?
Heather Welford: It is. Older babies can sometimes be distractable and we kept Ruby waiting. She got a little bit agitated, so she is going to need to calm down a little bit from that moment where she was agitating to be fed.
Emma Howard: That's quite true, isn't it? When babies are upset, they don't feed well. It sounds really obvious and when you're rushing about with a new baby and you've left them to go do something else and they get upset, you almost have to have that calming, here we go, a fine example of it, there's no point carrying on, is that?
Heather Welford: No.
Emma Howard: Calm her down, then put her back again. Well, Ruby, you're demonstrating this musically for us.
Tara Wilkinson: She is also tired.
Emma Howard: I thought she is. This is right pose, isn't it? Tara is doing fantastically here.
Heather Welford: She is, she is responding. She is probably not even consciously thinking about it, are you?
Tara Wilkinson: No.
Heather Welford: By now four-and-a-half months, they are tuned into one another and Ruby can communicate with Tara really effectively and Tara knows what to do. She just takes her off, calms her down and she is shushing her, nice and gently in area there, that's nice. Getting to a stage where she could probably put her back on again. She is ready to get stuck in on the feed again.
Emma Howard: And the fidgeting can happen after how many weeks? Is it quite focused in the beginning?
Heather Welford: Well, you can get babies stopping and starting even as newborns, they can get themselves very wound up because they want to feed, they haven't quite yet learned how to put all those instincts into place. A feed of a newborn might last an hour, off and on, off and on, not quite really getting it together.
Emma Howard: All babies and mums are different, aren't they? So breasts sort of letdown at different rates. So, I mean, what was going on that?
Heather Welford: That's right. Each mother and baby is a unique partnership and if both got to learn how to breastfeed effectively and happily and different things will happen in the birth that might influence the feeding experience. Mothers do breastfeed really lactate milk at different rates. That's why following any book or anybody's advice absolutely slavishly isn't going to help anybody because your baby might not fit that particular pattern, if you know your baby.
Emma Howard: That's what you want in the beginning, you want to be told exactly what to do and when to do it, because there is so much to take on board. It's quite hard message to take on really, isn't it, that you were an individual and social baby.
Heather Welford: Yeah and being patient, being candid yourself, accepting that everything isn't going to fall in place on the first day. That will help you in paying attention to positioning and attachment. If it hurts, get help with getting the baby on in a way that isn't painful for you and just not expecting to get everything right from day one because for most people it doesn't happen like that.
Emma Howard: No. I mean, did Tara have that experience? Tara, Ruby is your first? Isn't she?
Tara Wilkinson: Yes, she is.
Emma Howard: You seem to be working very well together as a team now. I know that she is overtired and you're very, very, automatically knowing how to calm her down. But when you started and just before she was born, you were quite worried about breastfeeding, weren't you?
Tara Wilkinson: Yeah, I was, a lot of my friends already had children and obviously trying to breastfed and quite a few of them had a lot of difficulties with it and they gave up, sort of ten days, two weeks after.
Emma Howard: Did you think that that might be you as well?
Tara Wilkinson: I just thought, obviously, it doesn't work for everybody and you're told that it's the most natural thing and you think, obviously, it's going to work. Then you hear about lots of other people who -- that milk didn't come in or that nipples weren't good enough.
Emma Howard: That's what women are often told. It is awful to say it, because it's one of those deeply emotional things. This is your baby. You should be feeding your baby and when your baby arrives, it doesn't all come together.
Tara Wilkinson: That's right. I really wanted to breastfeed. I didn't have the birth I wanted, I liked to have a water birth and that didn't happen. I was thinking, oh, I just hope I can do this breastfeeding, because I know that it's meant to be the best thing for her.
Emma Howard: So you were determined.
Tara Wilkinson: I was. I was really determined. When I went home I had few difficulties and I phoned up a helpline that I'd been given.
Emma Howard: The NCT, of course, have a helpline that you can ring the number off, certainly.
Heather Welford: Yes, there is help for people who have problems and somebody came to see you?
Tara Wilkinson: Yes.
Emma Howard: So somebody came to the house, fantastic!
Tara Wilkinson: Yeah, it was lovely and I was lying on the settees, I couldn't move at all and trying to get her to feed and you're very worried when they're so little, if they're taking enough milk. I phoned up this helpline and a lady came, Claire Davis. She came on the next day and just observed me feeding Ruby.
Emma Howard: Seeing if she was in the right position.
Tara Wilkinson: Yes and just made tiny little adjustments and that just made all the difference. Also, you're told that it shouldn't hurt you and it was hurting a lot. I think, I'm not doing it right, and you do get worried, especially if you don't know.
Emma Howard: I remember those feelings of myself, that it's not supposed to happen. It was absolutely killing me. I'm thinking how do I get this right? Why don't we just pull this further, let's talk about position. What position should the baby be in and we'll see if Ruby can demonstrate to us in a minute. Let's make sure she is little happier, she is getting there. What's the ideal position?
Heather Welford: Well, there is no one position that fits all. The crucial thing is where the breast and the nipple is in the baby's mouth. The baby can be hanging from the chandelier or you could have the baby in the arms or lying down or whatever, the crucial thing is what's going on in this area.
Emma Howard: Right.
Heather Welford: We find when we help mothers with positioning and attachment, what is sometimes happening is that the nipple is going in and being pushed out by the tongue, so the nipple and the breast need to be in the top third of the mouth where the dome of the palate makes a nice big space. That means that the baby can draw in a lot of breast. The nipple goes down the back of the throat and isn't being compressed by the tongue against the hard palate.
Emma Howard: Should we see, do you think that Ruby would want to go now or do you think that should we try? Can you talk us through this? We can't do this on the Baby Channel, where can you, let's see if we can have -- can you talk us through this positioning and, of course, there's fantastic nursing bras also they come down.
Tara Wilkinson: Yes, very handy.
Heather Welford: Oh! She is turning and she knows what's happening, because she's done this many, many hundreds of times.
Emma Howard: She makes an eager anticipation. You're going to go on for us, really?
Heather Welford: Is she going to open her mouth wide. She will do it. Yeah, nice wide mouth and sucking in there.
Emma Howard: Her mouth should be coming in a lot of areola, the dark patch around the nipple.
Heather Welford: This varies because women's areola different in size. If you've got areola of this size -- some people have, you're never going to get it all in the baby's mouth. It's really making sure that she's got a good mouthful of breast, some of which will indeed be covered by the discoloration of the areola. I can see that she's -- she's come up again. She's listening about a bit. She knows what to do. We don't need to be too worried about a baby.
Emma Howard: In fact, that's fun in Ruby's case, she's quite confident, isn't she?
Heather Welford: Yeah. She knows she can come off and she knows how to get on again really quickly. And she is too distracted, she's listening, very typical of a baby of this age.
Emma Howard: But it's interesting what you say about women's areola being different sizes, because if you are told where the mouth should cover it in your visit, again, it makes you feel that you're failing. You particularly had a problem with that Tara, didn't you, because if you're coloring your beautiful red hair and your freckles, you were told that you'd be susceptible so to nipples.
Tara Wilkinson: It would be more painful because of my coloring and that makes you very anxious.
Emma Howard: Not a great start.
Tara Wilkinson: No.
Emma Howard: This is a complete method, isn't that Heather?
Heather Welford: Yeah, it is. I'm simply coloring to Tara and all those years ago, I was told exactly the same thing. What makes the difference is not your coloring but how the baby is positioned and attached. And you can have very dark skin and dark hair, you can still be so, if the baby is nipping the nipple between her tongue and the hard palate.
It doesn't matter what color of your skin is, the skin is going to break down because the nipple's skin is very fragile, because it's thin, it's got to transmit a lot of nerve sensations to the brain to tell the brain to start letting-down the milk. So if it's in the wrong position, it's very friable. But if it's in the right position, down the back of the baby's throat, the baby has a big mouthful of breast and can start sucking and swallowing and the nipple will not be compressed.
Emma Howard: Well, thank you very much for bringing Ruby, Tara to demonstrate some of that. Heather, you and I would be talking about positioning later on as well. But for the moment, thank you very much all three of you.
Breastfeeding Older Babies
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