October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. When a baby is born with Down syndrome it is important that families get the individual support they need when it comes to their feeding choice. Inclusion is so important and that starts right from a baby being born.
For families that want to breastfeed they can often face negativity right from the offset. Many parents report being told by medical professional that babies with Down syndrome cannot breastfeed or ‘probably won’t be able to’, which along with not being correct, can be hurtful and damaging to the breastfeeding relationship.
At Positive About Down Syndrome we offer lots of support to medical professionals in the form of our training and awareness sessions to make recommendations on best practice for supporting the families we work with.
Tips to help you breastfeed your baby with Down syndrome
If you are planning to breastfeed your baby with Down syndrome here are my 5 top tips!
- Reach out to your local support groups and read through our resources at Positive About Down syndrome.
- Make sure that you are given the Down syndrome specific insert for your baby’s red book. It includes an adjusted growth chart for your baby which is important to have so that weight is tracked accurately. There may be unnecessary concerns over weight gain if the typical growth chart is used.
- If you baby is struggling with breastfeeding, look at the basics first. It’s important to have good position and attachment like you would with any baby.
- Babies with Down syndrome can often have low muscle tone. Supporting their body is very important and that can be with cushions or pillow if necessary. There is also a position called the ‘dancer hold’ which can help with low muscle tone around the jaw.
- Have lots of skin to skin with your baby. As well as helping with the breastfeeding relationship it can also help with bonding and maternal well-being and support positive mental health.
This year we have also produced a Guide to Breastfeeding a Baby With Down syndrome. The guide aims to provide families with lots of information that will help them along their breastfeeding journey and allow them to see representative and inclusive images.