Helen Borg is a senior midwife and infant feeding specialist who heads up the drop-in breastfeeding clinic at Mater Dei hospital. As mentioned in the series intro, Helen will cover common issues that can arise when feeding your newborn, giving professional advice and reassurance to help make your journey run smooth.
Q. What are your best burping tips and techniques?
It’s important to note that not all breastfed babies necessarily have to burp. Many do, especially with fast flows or overfeeders, and generally bottle fed babies will need to be burped at the end of their feed.
Some babies burp better sitting up. For this, you sit them on your knee, put their chin into your hand, and lean them forward a little bit. Then you tap and run the baby’s back. In addition you can move their whole body gently one way and then the other so you encourage the air to bubble up.
Another technique is to put the baby on your shoulder so he is upright, with his tummy pressed a little on you and, again, gently tap and rub their back.
If that doesn’t work, whilst standing up, try putting your hand under the baby’s chin and your other hand under his bum. You don’t rub or pat here, instead just gently rock the baby backwards and forwards and then walk around a bit, which also moves the baby around. Because this is a bit of a foetal position, the burp tends to happen on its own (even for a cranky baby, this position sometimes helps to calm them down).
If none of these techniques are working for you, you might want to try putting the baby down straight after the feed without burping initially. In this way, you’re allowing a bit of digestive movement to happen, which will cause the air bubbles to come up more easily. While they’re lying down they will find it difficult to burp without spitting up, but if you monitor them, you will notice that they will become fidgety when the air is ready to come out, at this point, pick them up and begin burping them, the air should come up more easily.
If the baby does end up burping and spitting up while lying on his back, don’t panic. They will make so much noise that you will be alerted to it instantly. We do need to get away from the idea that if a baby lies on his back there’s a risk they will inhale whatever they’ve spit up. There’s actually more of a risk if the baby is laying propped up on his side because then if they spit up and the milk puddles on the plastic mattress cover, their face is actually laying in it, which is more dangerous.
When it comes to spare equipment for new mums, the breastfeeding clinic relies on donations, so if you have any of the following that you no longer need, you can drop them off at the clinic where they will be gratefully received.
-Milk storage bags or containers