Breastfeeding isn’t always easy and often comes with challenges

There’s no doubt that breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure your little one gets all the nutrients he needs to grow and thrive. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, because studies have proven that “if every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for his first six months, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two, about 800 000 child lives would be saved every year”.

But as wonderful as it is, breastfeeding isn’t always easy and often comes with challenges. The good news is, nowadays there’s plenty of support at hand.

We asked the experts for their answers to some of your most pressing baby-feeding questions …

1. How do I know my baby is latching correctly?

Whether you’re a first-time or second-time mom, you be unsure about how to start breastfeeding, says Johannesburg-based doula and childcare expert Magdeleen Möller.

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It’s important to take note of your baby’s lips when he latches, she says. The bottom lip should be out and right around your areola (the ring of pigmented skin around your nipple). You should also listen for your baby swallowing. Although it’ll take a few days for your milk to come in, once you have a good flow, your baby should get mouthfuls of milk with each suck and swallow well, she says. If you don’t hear your little one swallowing, he might not have latched correctly. Your whole nipple should be in his mouth with every feed.

Remember that breastfeeding is often uncomfortable, but should never be sore, says Magdeleen. If you’re experiencing pain with every feed, see a lactation consultant as soon as possible. “Lactation consultants study intensely for at least a year to qualify,” says Magdeleen. “They know a lot about breastfeeding and should be able to help with even the most difficult cases,” she adds.

Click through the gallery for five more baby-feeding tips …