Monday, 12 November 2018

10 tips for breastfeeding mums

Breastfeeding Dot in the woods

If you're planning on breastfeeding your baby, or if you've just started on your journey and are looking for some tips, you've come to the right place. A little bit about me and my journey - our journey started 4 years ago with my first child. Despite all our attempts, breastfeeding didn't happen to us - there were no support groups where I lived, I didn't know about Facebook support groups etc. I pumped every 2 hrs for 6 weeks until I couldn't pump so much as a drop.

Then 2 years later, I fell pregnant with my 2nd child. This time I was determined to make it happen. Thankfully, the day he was born, he latched and we successfully fed. For the first couple/few weeks we combination fed (I'd say he was 95% breastfed, with 1-2 formula top ups a day), since then we dropped the top ups and at 15 months we're still going strong. I've learned a lot on this journey, both first hand, and from reading the wonderful messages and advice in the support groups I'm in. So without further ado, here are my tips for breastfeeding mums.

1. Possibly the most important tip, your breastmilk IS enough for your baby. As long as they are having plenty of wet and dirty nappies, then you're making enough milk for them. 

2. If they're feeding around the clock, and you feel like they're not getting enough - they're cluster feeding and upping your supply. Think of it like they're putting their orders in for milk for the next day or so - breastfeeding is about supply and demand - so when they're on the breast constantly, they're putting their orders in, it's not necessarily about quenching that thirst.

3. Positioning can have a massive impact on the comfort of breastfeeding - if they're slightly too high up on your arm, it could cause a shallow latch, which is painful. Another indication of a shallow latch is having lipstick shaped nipples after a feed. Always try to get face to face support for help with positioning, either from a breastfeeding/peer-to-peer support worker, or a lactation consultant. 

4. Try not to pump during the first 6 weeks if you can as it could give you an oversupply (remember the supply and demand thing?). If you need to pump for relief (or if you have blocked ducts/mastitis etc), then try to just pump enough for relief.

5. Join the Facebook support groups Breastfeeding Yummy Mummies and UK parenting and breastfeeding support - there's an amazing wealth of knowledge in there - personally, they've saved our journey more than once.

6. Keep hydrated! Get a pack of bottled water, keep it next to the sofa, and get a good Netflix series - you're going to become very well acquainted with the sofa over the next couple months, so make sure the essentials are close by. Not being well enough hydrated *can* have an effect on your supply, so keeping hydrated is important.

7. Get yourself some Lansinoh nipple cream, and apply it pretty generously to your nipples after each feed - it'll really help take the edge off any discomfort and dryness/cracking.

8. Don't bother with breastfeeding cookies, or drinks, or any other things that are trying to sell you food/drink to up your supply. Things like oats to up your supply has recently been debunked. The only proven way to help up your supply (after the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding), is removal of milk (that means pumping/expressing). 

9. Feed on demand, your baby will let you know when they're hungry, which will probably be most of the time at the beginning :) However, in those early days, try not to let your baby go more than 5 hrs without a feed, their blood sugars can drop low if they go too long without a feed. If they're having trouble staying awake for feeds (we had a nightmare with this!), try stripping them down to the nappy before a feed, change their nappy, stroke their arms/feet/cheeks etc to rouse them as they dose off on the breast. As they get older it won't be so much of an issue as they'll naturally be more alert.

10. You've got this, you CAN do this. And you know what? In a few weeks you'll be really glad you stuck with it, not just for your baby and all the benefits that come with breastfeeding, but because after those first few tough weeks, it gets much easier. 

If you've reached this point, and you're considering introducing formula, obviously that's completely your decision to make and should be free of judgement from anyone - you know what's best for your baby. Just ask yourself a couple questions - why do you want to introduce it? If it's because you don't think they're getting enough milk from you - as long as they have lots of wet and dirty nappies then they're getting enough milk. If it's because you're not pumping as much, well pumping isn't an indication of supply - some breasts don't respond well to pumping. And lastly, if you're thinking of introducing formula to help them sleep better at night, please read this first.


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