My Top Tips For Breastfeeding
Our bodies are simply amazing! Not only do we have the ability to grow an entire human, but we have the ability to continue to sustain life through breastfeeding long after our babes leave the womb.
In honour of The World Health Organisation Breastfeeding Week for 2018, I thought I would share a little bit about my journey, the benefits of breastfeeding and my tips for breastfeeding mothers. (* please note, this is simply my story and my personal advice and commentary, I pass no judgement on other mothers choices).
For me, when I found out I was pregnant, breastfeeding was just naturally something that I knew would be a part of my parenting journey in some way. Lots of people have opinions on breastfeeding, they set goals and have some rules around what what will and won’t do - my only approach was to keep an open mind and heart and to continue breastfeeding my baby as long as we were both happy. It turns out little baby #2 decided for us when it was time to halt! During my first pregnancy I did a lot (seriously, a lot!) of research - and this included research on breastfeeding. I think this absolutely helped, but for me, I really needed that ‘on the job training’! During my time in hospital I had 7 different midwives give me instructions on breastfeeding - it was overwhelming to say the least and they all had something different to say - which is a good thing and a bit of overload all at the same time! Each of them putting my baby in a different position and telling me my baby’s latch looked amazing… so why did all of my research say it shouldn’t hurt… but it kind of did - my instincts told me something wasn’t quite right. But onwards we went, we did some troubleshooting, sought some help and I will never forget day 10… the day of the 23 hour feed! But it has all been worth it.
Here are my breastfeeding musings…
It’s the great problem solver! I find breastfeeding to be incredibly helpful in so many situations, creating calm, promoting sleep (for baby and mamma!) and whole bunch of other things.
Its immune building and has so many other health benefits. Did you know that your breastmilk changes and adapts to precisely what your baby needs at a given time through communication with your baby’s saliva - incredible!
Watch your baby, not the clock. Sometimes your baby will feed very frequently, or seemingly be feeding all the time, other times they will go stretches of time without needing a feed. Demand feeding was my natural instinct. I was the Mamma at mothers group who had no idea how many times a day their baby ate or at what intervals because I never made note or kept a schedule. Their tummies are so tiny and they can digest fairly frequently, and plus, I don’t decide what times during the day I will eat or take a sip of water so I figured my baby might be the same (and as time goes by, your baby generally settles into their own rhythm/pattern). I found when there were lots of people around my baby would feed a lot and very frequently, which I later discovered is an instinctive response to stay close to Mamma, pretty amazing when you think about it.
Babies feed for hunger, thirst, comfort, attachment, pain relief and about 348,624 other reasons!
Cluster feeding is normal - this is a biologically normal process that happens in the early weeks and up to a couple of months of age (and sometimes during leaps, teething, illness and other times your baby requires it)
If it doesn’t feel right, it hurts, you are unsure about something or you just need reassurance and support - seek some help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I can not stress this enough! Mamma - Reach out for help! The solution to my initial problems was simply to roll up a cloth nappy and sit it under my breast - meaning that i could see my baby better, help her latch properly and to take the weight to enable her to feed effectively (she was small and my breasts became huge!) and at almost exactly 4 months old she decided she didn't require that assistance anymore.
People are going to tell you all sorts of things and pass comment and offer advice - trust your instincts, trust your baby, observe your baby, seek the help of a professional if you are unsure. This is your journey, together with your baby - not anyone else’s.
It’s a great opportunity to stop, take a breath, be fully present with your baby and be grateful. I really loved popping on a 10 minute guided meditation in those early days.
Eat well and stay well hydrated! Breastfeeding is calorie burning work! Lots of vegetables, protein and water is so important (plus you’ll feel so much better for it!).
Your partner plays a huge role in breastfeeding too. Often partners think that bottle feeding is necessary for them to also bond with baby (and maybe that’s something you want too), but there are many many other ways for that bonding to take place (bathing, skin-to-skin, reading and much more!) - breastfeeding is such a unique and precious gift for our babes. But make no mistake, the role of your partner in breastfeeding is so important for success. Partners can help by looking after you! Yes you! You are so important and you need to be well looked after! Making sure you are hydrated, comfortable, have healthy meals and snacks, taking care of other things whilst your hands are full - like cooking dinner during those cluster feeding days etc. I can’t remember the number of times I sat down, began feeding and realised my water bottle was out of arm's reach!
Your journey is your own. My best advice is always - you do you! Research, research, research and seek the help of a professional IBCLC.
- Louise A.
Written by Mumma Louise Allen, mother to 8-month old Hazel and pregnant with bub number 2 from Ballarat, Australia. She is a part of the baby luno Mum Diaries team and will be blogging regularly as she continues on her motherhood journey and we can't wait to follow.
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Photo credit to Ballarat Birth Support.