Suppressing milk supply
In most cases, breastfeeding is stopped gradually as the child starts to eat food or drink from the bottle. Sometimes you need to stop abruptly, and a gradual slowdown is not possible. This could be if you or the child get sick or if there are complications with breastfeeding that make it too hard to continue.
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Some women have decided against breastfeeding, even before giving birth. As breast milk is made on-demand, milk production will slow down if the baby sucks less on the breast. If you have decided not to breastfeed already before delivery, you should simply ignore your breasts. If you don’t stimulate your breasts, milk production will cease. The breasts can still be tight and sore the first few days after giving birth but will then soon get soft again. It is normal to leak milk in the beginning, but this will stop within a short period of time.
When you want to suppress milk supply make sure to wear a firm bra such as a sports bra. Avoid wearing a wired bra as it may increase the risk of mastitis. If your breasts are tight and painful, you may need to take pain relief medication, for example, paracetamol or Ibuprofen. The tightness and pain normally ease after 3-5 days. If the pain is unbearable, you can try to release the pressure by filling a bowl or a basin with hot water and dipping your nipple in it. This will usually encourage some milk to come out, without stimulating the nipple. You can also take a hot shower and stroke your breasts without a hand express of the breast. If you still need to pump or hand express milk, stop just as the discomfort eases to ensure you don’t stimulate increased milk production.
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Getting the baby to latch on to the breast
It is important that the baby can latch on to the breast properly as this will reduce the risk of sore nipples, uncomfortable breastfeeding, engorgement, insufficient amounts of milk and slow weight gain in the baby.
The first days of breastfeeding
The breastfeeding pattern differs from child to child. Some babies sleep almost the entire first day after birth, while others want to feed straight away and often. Although your priority is not on yourself, make sure to sleep when the opportunity presents itself, eat well, and ensure that you get enough fluids.
Bleeding and discharge after giving birth
After giving birth, it’s normal for the mother to bleed, for up to eight weeks. Most of the bleeding is from where the placenta comes away from the wall of the uterus. This happens to all women, whether the birth was vaginal or by cesarean section.
The uterus will shrink back down to its normal size after delivery. The contractions are called postpartum pains, or simply afterpains, and are similar to period pain.