As every baby is different, every birth is different as is every woman’s breastfeeding journey. Your body has made the baby and that’s only half the job, the other is to feed and nourish them to help them grow and your breastmilk is the best formula for that. Breastfeeding is not easy for some women, so here are some tips to helps you out.
We’ve all heard that ‘breast is best’ but what does this actually mean.
Economically and Environmentally: You don’t have to buy formula, bottles, detergent, hot water, sterilizer etc.
Mentally: Research says that a breast fed baby is more likely to be smarter than those that don’t and will also develop motor skills quicker than others that aren’t breast fed.
Allergically: Studies show breast fed babies are less likely to develop allergies.
Specifically: Your baby is born from you. Your body knows and concocts the perfect breastmilk for your baby specifically for their needs. This is dependent on their age, growth, thirst, heat, nourishment and throughout illness too.
Medically: Breastfed babies are less likely to develop ear aches and infections, stomach viruses, asthma, the flu and diabetes.
Personally: Breastfeeding is the best and quickest way to get you back into shape. A lot of women don’t know this but breastfeeding is a natural birth control as your period doesn’t usually come back for at least 6 months. Breastfeeding contracts your uterus. Breastfeeding uses up an extra 300 – 500 calories a day, and that’s just by sitting there.
What to do to prepare for breastfeeding:
1. Make sure your wardrobe is ready to breastfeed. Although you will probably not be breastfeeding in public straight off the bat, it’s a good idea to have clothing and underwear ready for the task, even if you are just at home.
Hot tip: Ask your self a few questions like:
Am I comfortable without using a cover cloth?
Do I want an A-frame sling or a side sling bra?
Am I ok with showing my belly or do I want my clothing to be top opening?
2. Practice with a doll or a pillow (or a friends baby – as long as they are not hungry) the grip and hold required to feed your baby. Every body is different from arm lengths, torso lengths, baby lengths and overall preference for comfort. What works for someone, may not work for you. Try it out first.
Hot tip: This could even be one of the games at your baby shower. The more you people you tell and get involved in your breastfeeding journey, the more comfortable they will be also.
3. Test out your bras. When your milk first comes in, your breasts may be sore and engorged.
Hot tip: This is not the first time you want to be trying to unlatch your nursing clip, so try it out first.
4. Watch a few videos on youtube to see what it looks like, close up, and understand a good latch and a bad latch.
5. Before you have your baby, your midwife may ask if your colostrum is being produced. To get the flow happening, you may need to squeeze some out by gently milking your breast – not your nipple. Another chance to watch some youtube for how this is done correctly and with what pressure.
Hot tip: Practice at home after a warm shower
6. Prepare a breastfeeding corner in your lounge, or a few of them around the house. You could adorn them with snacks, water bottles, phone charger, books, magazines, notebook and pen, pillows, comfortable chair and soft lighting.
7. Be ready for disappointment: It takes 6 weeks for your milk to establish so take heed if it does take this much time to master the art. It is not something that all women just know, for some it is a learned skill. If you are unable to breastfeed, don’t become disheartened or discouraged.
8. Become a student: If breastfeeding is a skill then you can be taught. Find a friend, relative, midwife or lactation consultant to guide you through.
How to breastfeed:
1. Immediately after birth, if you can have skin-to-skin contact and just enjoy each others company.
Hot tip: Skin-to-skin and heart-to-heart for as long as you can. Focus on your baby as this is your time.
2. Bring your baby to your breast or let your baby come to your breast. Try not to bring your breast to your baby as this can result in bad habits forming. You may become uncomfortable very quickly and this can lead to muscle aches and pains and a stiff neck. Provide all the support you can for your baby so that their mouth is lined up with your nipple. Grab some pillows and move them around as much needed so that you stay as comfortable as possible.
Hot tip: Practice even when your baby is has been fed to achieve a comfortable position.
3. Support your baby’s body with a pillow or your arm. Make sure that you are comfortable if using your arm. If you keep their body and chin against your body, this is the best way to ensure a good latch. The first points of contact are to be the chin and bottom lip on your breast, not your nipple. The second point is the top lip on the other side of your breast, after a wide mouth latch for optimum sucking to ensure the nipple and most of the areola are encompassed by the baby’s mouth and throat. It can take a few goes with guesstimate timing, so be patient.
4. Once your baby is latched on, their chin should be buried into your breast and their nose free so they can breathe.
5. Your baby will start to suck with a few lighter sucks and then larger deeper sucks that you can see when they are actually swallowing. You may feel your milk be ‘let-down’ at this stage. This let-down feeling may also cause cramps in your uterus as breastfeeding helps your uterus contract after your baby is born.
6. Watch your baby not the clock. Take cues to find out when your baby is hungry and needs to be fed and also when they are full. They may start fidgeting, fall asleep, need to burp, be too hot or something completely different. You will soon learn to understand what your baby is trying to tell you. Try not to worry about your milk supply as the more your baby needs, the more you will make.
Hot Tip: Be confident and know that you are able to feed your baby. You have made them and this is also part of that. Enjoy this time as it doesn’t last forever.