Hello to all my mum’s and mum’s to be!
For some breastfeeding can be a wonderful and joyous experience between mother and baby. Unfortunately for some mums and babies it is not always the case and some mothers can present with a range of different feeding difficulties, some within their control and others out of their control. So today I would like to touch on a few tips that could help create a more successful breastfeeding experience.
Now just a little disclaimer…
I may support women with breastfeeding but in no way do I feel it is the best “choice” for every mother. There are many reasons and complications for why it may be difficult for a mother to breastfeed and I also support and appreciate this. My intension is to support any mother through this journey even if that means they mix feed or formula feed. The most important thing is the baby gets fed somehow right?
To continue, my tips are based from personal experience and I am in no way advising mothers from a professional point. This is simply a mother to mother post. The above photo is of my daughter a few days old.
Yes breastfeeding is natural….our bodies automatically produce milk during pregnancy and after birth to feed the baby. This doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy just because we were designed to be walking, talking milk machines. Gathering as much information during pregnancy is the most essential tool to create a successful breastfeeding experience. Understanding the foundations of breastfeeding will help you understand what your body is capable of and what you and your baby need to do to help this process run smoothly. YouTube has endless amounts of breastfeeding videos and attending parent education classes will also touch on a few pointers. Trust me, once you understand how breastfeeding works you will understand how to make it work for you.
Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself to breastfeed, this will do you no good. I’m not saying to accept defeat if your struggling but maybe seek additional support from family and experts. We all want to do the best for our babies but just be mindful that as a mother you also have to put your own needs and feelings first. Others around you may also make you feel pressured to breastfeed or not to breastfeed, a polite reminder is that it is your choice to do what works for you and your baby don’t dwell on your decision too much just concentrate on the needs of yourself and your child.
Support, Support, Support
Now I mean this in many ways such as:
Getting as much support from the healthcare providers as possible. They are there to help with all your issues and concerns and they will work with you to try and fix any feeding issues you have.
Getting help with other children during feeding times will give you the chance to focus on feeding your baby and getting the right positioning and and attachment.
Also by having people around you who support your decisions and feeding methods will also make for a more relaxed experience.
For example: the mother in law that feels breastfeeding is gross and unnecessary because she never breastfed and all her children are fine….
Allow her to say her piece and simply remind her that that was “her” choice and “her” special experience with “her” baby and you respect that but this is your special experience with your baby and of she’s not willing to accept and respect your methods then fine, but you would appreciate if she kept her dislike for breastfeeding to herself, as you have every right to enjoy this experience without negativity and judgement.
Reality Vs Expectation
Some new mothers my have had an introduction to the world of breastfeeding due to family members or friends and see how easy it is to latch on the baby whilst out for a coffee , or multi – tasking around the house and expect that they can do the same. In the early days it may be a struggle.. the baby might not latch very well and your postioning may be a little off so doing multiple things at once could be a Loong way off yet.
Now lets be realistic…who said a breastfed baby is easier to night feed then bottle fed babies visa/versa? They are both a challenge! Regardless of your feeding method your still going to have to get up.. sit up, turn on a dim light and feed a screaming baby. There’s no difference.
Once you have mastered great attachment you can then try laying down on your side to breastfeed. I personally find this soo much easier at night times. But please remember co – sleeping is never advised so it’s best to place the baby back in the cot after the feed.
Try and remember to try and catch up on some sleep during the day. My baby is 8 months old and I still have a daytime nap! I turn into a right moody cow without one 🐮
You may hear that a breastfed baby doesn’t need to be winded. I have been unlucky enough to have THREE breastfed babies that have suffered from colic. Breastfed babies can get trapped wind, especially if there is a lot of crying before they latch on or they have a poor latch in general. Now can I add.. if you wind a breastfed baby after they breastfeed they will bring up wind just like a formula fed baby would, so I’ll leave you to decide…
CRACKED AND SORE NIPPLES
This is NOT normal!!! Back in the day mothers would tell each other this is normal and that it will be like this for a few days until the nipples toughens up….
Breastfeeding should not hurt or cause damage to the nipples..if it is then there’s something wrong with how the baby is attaching. The baby may also be tongue tied and need this reviewing. But don’t sit there and suffer praying for the day the pain ends because this can be a factor which can cause mothers to quit.
If you suspect that your baby may be tongue tied after gaining support for postioning and attachment then please attend your local breastfeeding cafe/ support group or lactation consultant for additional support. Lactation consultants will come and see you at home if you do not fancy going out but they do charge.
Tools to help:
Lanolin (cracked nipples)
Breastpump for engorgement
Expressing milk can be a life saver for mothers who want the baby to benefit from breastmilk but don’t actually want the baby attached to their breast every 2-3 hours. This avoids having to offer artifical milk and allows the mother to create and regulate her own milk supply.
E.g The more you pump the more milk you will create.
Pumping can also be used to relieve engorgement.
Pumping also give others the chance to be involved with feeding the new baby, which in turn can also give mum a break.
It is usually advised that you don’t introduce a bottle teat for the first 4 weeks as this may cause nipple confusion but again this is completely your choice. I personally feel that you can’t assume the baby will definatly stuggle until you try. But in saying that there are many parents that are anti bottle and may seek alternative feeding methods like, cupfeeding or finger feeding. Please don’t try these without getting a demonstration from a healthcare professional.
Feeding in public
Some mothers may feel comfortable to feed in public and others may not it just depends on you as an individual. If you are a self conscious mummy and don’t feel ready to feed openly in public here are a few tips I personally use to help me when I’m out.
1. I only go to places where I know there are feeding rooms. Mothercares in particular.
2. I use a really thin scalf to wrap around myself and just slightly over the baby’s cheek. (My son hates his head covered and he sweats buckets during a sitting) also babies can get too hot and overheat so I would use this more as a last resort again not over the head just around the boob and cheek.
3. Breastfeeding tops are super descrete.
4. If I really don’t want to breastfeed in public I breastfeed in my car.. I will never breastfeed in a toilet that’s just gross!!
5. I pay no attention to passerbyers what so ever, my concern is my baby feeding I’m not really in the mind frame for eye contact and a conversation on quantum physics during a sitting thanks lol.
These are just my tips for if you feel uncomfortable feeding in public. In my opinion here in the UK, women are appear more descrete and we all tend to huddle in feeding rooms or use shawls and scalves and I’ve never really known anyone to mind. In saying that; if you are fully comfortable to breastfeed in public then good for you my tips are only intended for those who maybe feeling a little anxious about public feeding but don’t want to resort to a bottle.
I am by no means saying that breastfeeding is easy but just relax! Regardless of your methods your baby will be fed and is loved by his mummy. I hear all to often when mums say they feel guilty for decisions they made during their journey but really don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Gain as much support and you can and try your best. It has taken me 3 children to finally exclusively breastfeed for 7months due to lack of self belief, lack of education and anxiety of public feeding. I don’t regret any of my decisions because at the time they all worked for me.
If you liked this post please like and comment I would love to hear some of your own experiences and some additional tips to help other breastfeeding mummies out there!