Before you go getting all judgy on me, I’m not here to tell you that you must breastfeed your young. I’m going to give you a few simple tips from a trained breastfeeding peer supporter (Rural Public Health Organisation in Canterbury, NZ) to help you on your way if that is indeed your choice.
Because let’s face it, pictures depicting a serene earth Mother gently cradling her baby while she smiles warmly at him and he adoringly looks at her, aren’t all that helpful. Breastfeeding is a learned skill that both Mum and bubs need to master together. It can be challenging as you can’t sit down and explain it to your newborn over a beer at the pub, mores the pity. Anyway …
If you’re expecting a newborn into your life, congrats! There is nothing more exciting and quite frankly overwhelming. It’s fab if you have made the decision to breastfeed your new squishy bubba. In fact it’s important to have actually made the decision. Many just assume it will come naturally. It doesn’t to many. So you go in with your eyes wide open I have compiled a list based on my training and scenarios I have encountered over the years:
- Breastfeeding takes a village – create a support network. Talk to your partner about breastfeeding. My poor partner has endured many buckets of tears from me and our boys in our journey. He has been so supportive and I would have failed without his support. It’s important anyone you see frequently knows your plan. If you have other children, support to help with them is awesome, but not essential. You need food and water, and as many people that can deliver those to you the better! This is essential (see point 4). There are so many Facebook groups (and support groups (better than I expected them to be)) that can provide advice and let’s not forget people like me who can offer guidance too!
- Skin to skin – This is not some hippy (no disrespect intended to Hippy Mums) fad that is just about lovingly having your baby rest on your bare skin to keep you both warm. From a breastfeeding perspective, it helps your milk come in. If your baby is upset it’s a great way to calm your wee petal and a good way to keep your supply healthy. I didn’t realise this when my first was born and was just keen to get him in a cute wee onesie, with number two, he was clad in just a nappy more often than not.
- Feed, feed, feed – this is what I have learnt from my training. No good can come from a strict routine (unless it’s to feed bubs frequently (every three hours for example)). In the first six weeks, if your baby is awake, feed it. The first six weeks is critical to establishing a good supply. For anyone that’s been through cluster feeding (when your baby seems to want to feed all… the… time!), that’s your baby’s way of boosting your supply. Just go with it. Topping up isn’t the best idea, you never actually run out of milk. Ever.
- Eat and drink well. I was so tired with my first baby that I thought eating was a waste of time. Wrong! I know now, it reduced my supply. I also found it hard to drink as much water as I needed. This also didn’t help. With bubs number two I ate everything I saw and might as well have had a trough with a long straw attached beside me.
I could go on for pages and pages. This is just a few basic essentials. Some mum’s will have problems that can’t be solved or some may decide it’s just not for them. However, if you are having pain or experiencing trouble with latching (why don’t babies just come pre-programmed to just be awesome at this!!????). Feel free to use our ‘Contact Us’ link and ask me. I will point you in the right direction.