Breastfeeding tips - 5 tips for a successful journey
7 August 2020 | Admin
Breastfeeding tips - 5 tips for a successful journey
With thanks to guest blogger Cara Shields for her wisdom and advice
Breastfeeding can be a tumultuous journey. But here are some top tips to help the journey be a little easier.
1: Knowledge is Power
Doing some research and arming yourself with as much information as you can, can give you the best chance at success. Sure, for some the latch is perfect and there are few issues - but for many, the journey can get off to a rocky start. The best way to deal with whatever happens is to have an idea what to expect and what is happening.
If can be helpful to join a breastfeeding group before you are due (and continue going once baby arrives). This will give you the opportunity to talk to some experts and other mothers about their experiences. Groups are run by the HSE, Cuidiu and La Leche League.
Your hospital may have a specific breastfeeding class you can join, or provide you with the option of meeting with a lactation consultant beforehand or while still in the hospital after birth.
Friends of Breastfeeding is a terrific organisation that can pair you with a specially training Breastfeeding Buddy who can offer personal support and guidance before the birth and throughout the journey.
There are also Breastfeeding Counsellors and Lactation Consultants that you can reach out to with questions and issues if they come up. It’s a good idea to have a list of these prepared in advance so you are ready if needed. Your health insurance may even cover some costs for a Lactation Consultant as well.
The more information you have, the more confident and relaxed you can be - and that can be the key to success.
But, don’t just fall down a rabbit hole of online mammy chat forums to get information and answers to your questions. Look up reliable sources or talk to a professional if you are having problems.
Some reliable websites, for trustworthy information are:
Kelly mom http://www.kellymom.com/
2: It shouldn’t be that sore.
A common misperception is that breastfeeding hurts and you need to just put up with it. That is wrong.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a few days at the start where there is some pain as your body adjusts, but anything beyond that - anything reaching unbearable, any cracking or bleeding - is not normal and not ok. It is not something to persevere through; but likely a problem with the latch that can be solved. Get support from a professional lactation consultant.
3: Everyone worries they don’t have enough milk.
Baby’s feeding all evening again and won’t let you put them down? Normal.
Just fed for two hours and 30 minutes later seems hungry again? Normal.
Breastfeeding is hugely demanding, especially at the start as you regulate your supply and you and your baby figure it out. Most likely you have more than enough milk for them and they are ensuring a continued supply or going through a growth spurts, or just looking for comfort.
To reach for formula at an early stage purely out of concern for low supply, may mean adequate supply is never reached. In those first weeks you should feed on demand and for as long as baby needs it.
If worried, lots of skin on skin can help increase supply too, and make sure to get plenty of water (like, lots and lots and lots!) and calories yourself. Clinically proven supplements such as Go-Lacta can aid supply as well.
If very worried, talk to a lactation consultant.
4: You don’t need lots of gear... but a few things can help
Nowadays, there is not an accessory you can’t get for breastfeeding... but how much do you really need?? Not much really.
Clothes - most things in your wardrobe will do! You don’t actually need a whole other set of clothes. The best OUOD (one up one down method) will do day in day out. If you don’t want to stretch out your current wardrobe, and want to ensure some coverage, a Breastvest can make any top or jumper you wear breastfeeding friendly.
Pump - don’t go investing if you aren’t sure you need it. Depending on your plan to feed, and how things go, you might not need a pump at all. Having a manual pump on hand could be a good plan in case it is needed at short notice. If you find you want to or need to pump more regularly, then an electric pump will be essential. The Haaka Manual Breastpump is an excellent invention which helps build a supply of milk when feeding, for very little extra effort or impact on supply.
Nipple-care - have a nipple cream ready to go. As mentioned, there will be some pain and tenderness those first few days (and maybe again as baby’s teeth come in!). If you do have problems that result in cracking or severe pain (the origin of which should be looked at right away with a professional) - Earthmother Silver Cups can be a lifesaver.
Nursing pads - not always needed, sometimes in the first few days, or sometimes for a full six months! If you are going to be using them though, reusable and washable pads can be very comfortable and discrete.
5: Every feed is great
Whether you feed for one day, three weeks, or 15 months - every drop of breast milk your baby gets is beneficial.
Those first feeds - and up until your milk comes in after around 72 hours - is called colostrum and is packed with antioxidants and antibodies that will have great health benefits for your baby for the rest of their life. It helps to line their stomach with good bacteria and starts helping their immune system right away.
While the World Health Organisation recommends exclusively breast feeding for six months, and to continue with food for up to two years, (https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2011/breastfeeding_20110115/en/), any amount of breast milk your baby gets will benefit them. If you decide to do it for a few days, months, or supplement with formula along the way - every drop they get counts!
While the benefits of breastfeeding are clear, there are many reasons women can’t or choose not to breastfeed. If you try and decide it’s not for you, if there are medical reasons that prevent you from doing it: that is ok. We are fortunate to live in a time where formula can provide for the nutritional needs of a baby too.
So, remember to relax and try to enjoy the convenience and bonding opportunity for as long as it lasts.
With thanks to Cara for her wonderful advice, we hope you get lots of great tips and reassurance from it.