Natural Birth Planning – Where does Breastfeeding fit in?

I have written many posts on natural birth planning as I believe it is the key to a successful birth experience. Having your mind and body on the same positive page will give you an amazing birth experience. Today, however, I wanted to talk about breastfeeding, I want you to try and think beyond the birth for a short time and take in some great breastfeeding hints and tips.

The women I teach have many questions on birth, but when it comes to breastfeeding they are really not as interested, this is just because the birth is first and foremost in their minds. I can totally understand, it is hard to get past the birth, it is all consuming.

To help you have an amazing first breastfeeding experience I have put a list together for you to educate yourself about what physically happens to your body and your baby’s during the first hour after birth. I concentrate on the first hour because it is the most significant feed of them all. See below to find out why.

  • Your baby’s whole body will change from receiving oxygen from the umbilical cord to using their lungs to breathe air
  • Birth your placenta – usually15-30mins and can be up to an hour
  • Oxytocin levels at their highest to encourages milk let-down
  • Strongest suck in baby at this time so the first feed will imprint on your baby’s brain and will have subsequent successful breastfeeds

Knowing what physically happens in the first hour after birth will help you really plan and prepare yourself for this event. It is an amazing time that you can look forward to, not worry about. Just remember not to worry about feeling awkward when you first feed, you are not an expert at this stage and you are bound to feel a little uncomfortable.

If you are birthing your baby in the hospital, birthing center or at home there are some simple, yet powerful ways to maximise yours and you baby’s experience. I have compiled a list of things to educate you on the workings of your baby and what you can do to encourage your baby’s natural instincts. This will in turn give your baby the right environment to feed successfully.

  1. Initiate skin-to-skin contact
  2. Early feeding cues – eg fist to mouth, tongue protruding in and out, massaging your breasts with their tiny, beautiful hands and turning and mouthing towards your breast and nipple area. Recognise these early feeding cues as your baby will feed better at this stage. Crying is a late feeding cue and will create a more stressful environment when feeding
  3. Try and keep handling of your baby to a minimum until the first feed is completed (partners allowed)
  4. Leave weighing and measuring until after your baby’s first feed
  5. Turn your baby towards you so their chest is facing yours gently guide your baby towards your breast by placing your hand between the shoulder blades allowing the head to tilt back so the chin comes in first to the breast

To really get the most out of skin-to-skin contact it would be beneficial to talk to your birth attendant and plan for this. You can take off your clothes when birth is imminent and ask your birth attendant to either place your baby gently on your chest or you or your partner could actually help with the birthing process and be the first to touch your baby and bring him/her to your chest in your own arms. This is an amazing feeling, you may not want this but then again it might give you something to think about!

If you are planning for a cesarean section then ski- to-skin contact can also be achieved. You can talk to your obstetrician and midwife about skin-to-skin contact and its importance. If this is something you really want then you must be persistent with your wishes and remind all staff during your cesarean section. Although there may be circumstances in which it is impossible for this to happen, most times babies arrive into the world with a big cry, and this beautiful noise will mean that your baby is breathing and ready to be placed on to the warmth and security of your chest.

I just wanted to talk briefly about your baby’s feeding habits in the first few days before your milk comes in. It is common for mothers to wonder if they have enough milk for their baby as they tend to cry often for a feed in the first few days. To give you a reason behind this will make it easier to manage. Newborns have a stomach the size of a marble in the first day, it then grows to the size of a larger marble and then to the size of a golf ball on the third day. If you think about this for a moment it does not take much to fill a baby’s stomach and even less time for them to empty it, therefore they are ready for another feed in only a few short hours, ranging from 1-3 hours. Knowing this fact will give you the insight to follow your baby’s cues and allow him/her to feed often. It is not spoiling if you give in to your baby’s needs, in fact, having their needs met will actually create a happier contented child.

I have one last point before your get back on to your Natural Birth Planning, I know, I am almost finished! If your baby seems to be feeding constantly for over an hour and not settling at all then you need to ask for help. It usually means your baby is attaching to the nipple and not to the breast surrounding the nipple. This will leave you with sore, painful nipples and an unsettled baby it also could delay your milk coming in. Positioning and attachment are crucial at this time and having help at each feed will create a wonderful, successful breastfeeding relationship. Below is a diagram of great attachment, have a look at it and then put it to the back of your brain so you can draw on it when the birth is over.


Now, I know you want to get back to Natural Birth Planning. If you would like some fantastic up to date information on natural birthing then take a look at my book “7 secrets to Natural Childbirth”. You will find wonderful information that will change the way you look at birth. If you are having a cesarean section you can find some great ways to relax and really turn your birth into the experience you want.

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tip about breastfeeding just before your go…..I know I am pushing it!! I advise you to look at your breasts, feel them and get to know them. Marvel in the fantastic job that they will do – give your beautiful baby the gift of breast milk. It will line your baby’s stomach with the strongest defence system that can never be replicated by something man-made. This wonderful gift of human breast milk will keep your baby healthy for the rest of their life.



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