Anya baby & breastfeeding app logo - a lower case letter a with a baby's face with a tuft of hair with the word anya in lower case to the right

What is breastfeeding?

April 11, 2023

Breastfeeding means to give a baby its milk directly from its mother, literally ‘feeding from the breast’. This might include breastmilk feeding, where human milk is given by bottle. 

Contrary to popular belief, milk is not something that only appears after the baby is born; during pregnancy, the breasts adapt to start producing a baby’s first milk, called colostrum. This is actually available from around 20 weeks or so but is held back by the hormones of pregnancy.

Breastfeeding your baby is the perfect start to life and parenting for both of you. Your body is so well designed to produce milk that is perfectly suited to your baby. It is also exactly what the body is expecting to do once your baby is born. 

So what do you need to know to get off to the best start? 

  • During pregnancy you can begin to harvest colostrum from around 36 or 37 weeks pregnant, provided expressing is not likely to add to known risks. 

You can talk to your healthcare provider or midwife if you’re considered a high-risk pregnancy or if you know you’re likely to deliver your baby sooner than this point. Harvesting colostrum is usually done by hand (that’s right, no pump needed at this stage!) and collected in small, 1mL feeding syringes, which then need to be labelled and stored in the freezer until your baby arrives. 

Do have a look at our article ‘Antenatal Colostrum Banking’ in the appfor more information.

Breastfeeding is supply and demand: if baby is put to the breast frequently, and is latching effectively, then there is usually no grounds to suspect that they will not be able to access the milk they need. There is lots of information about this in the Anya app. 

The simplest way to assess input is output: look at the baby’s nappies, and weight gain. Again, there is lots of useful information and support available for concerned parents within the Anya app.

  • Breastfeeding should not be painful. If it hurts, something is going on that isn’t exactly right and this usually means a few tweaks to the positioning of your baby

Take a look at the LatchAid interactive 3D animation videos in the Anya app and become a pro at knowing how to bring your baby to the breast painfree. 

When it comes to items designed to prevent or heal pain with breastfeeding, again there are a few things to be aware of. It might also help to read the article ‘Breastfeeing Myths’ in the app. 

Sometimes it can be helpful to bounce your thoughts off others so why not come along to one of our community channels and ask other parents which items they bought that only went on to collect dust at the back of the cupboard! 

Related case studies