Helpful Tips for Breastfeeding Mothers
Being a mother is something most women dream of from a young age and the years leading up to this time we create plans to how we want this journey to play out. We have an idea of what age we want to have kids, sometimes it happens earlier or for others it doesn't happen so easily. We create a "birth plan" for how we want the birth to take place but you ask any mother, the birth never goes exactly to plan whether the baby decides to come earlier or later than the due date or you end up having a c-section when you wanted a natural birth. Then once you have your bundle of joy in your arms we think that because breastfeeding is such a natural process between a mother and a baby that it happens with ease but again this is something that can again not always goes to plan for some women.
The best advice that we can give is to have an open mind. Make your plans, be excited and strive to achieve your desires but be lenient. Babies come with a whole lot of unexpected surprises and your new journey is about adapting to what suits you both best. There isn't one right way to do anything in parenting. We take our journey and we make it our own and work with what we are given but it does help to be prepared for all the curve balls that are thrown at you. So, here are some helpful tips with breastfeeding in which may help prepare you for the most amazing journey of your life.
We hope you've decided to at least give breastfeeding a go. Even if you only nurse your baby for a few days or weeks, that early milk, called colostrum, provides an important source of antibodies to protect against diseases as Baby's own immune system develops during the first year.
Did you know that breastfeeding is beneficial for you mummies too?
- It helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and reduces post-delivery bleeding.
- It makes it easier to lose those pregnancy weight (you burn up to 500 extra calories a day nursing).
- It may reduce your risk of postpartum depression and breast and ovarian cancer.
- It can delay the return of your period (although you should still use some form of birth control when you resume intercourse).
- It saves money (no formula!).
- It's quick and easy for both yourself and the baby when he or she is unsettled. No fussing round making formula or sterilizing bottles.
BREASTFEEDING IS A LEARNED PROCESS. NO ONE (NOT EVEN BABIES) ARE BORN KNOWING HOW TO DO IT. DON'T BE TO HARD ON YOURSELF IF NURSING DOESN'T HAPPEN WITH EASE. PERSEVERE AND ASK FOR HELP WHEN NEEDED.
To improve your chance of success:
- Try to breastfeed within the first hour of birth. This helps your uterus contract and provides that valuable colostrum.
- Prepare for your milk to come in. This occurs on about the third or fourth day after birth. You'll know it's happened because your breasts suddenly increase several cup sizes!
- Have a midwife or lactation consultant check how Baby latches on while you're still in the hospital. While it might be uncomfortable when Baby latches on, it shouldn't be painful. If it hurts badly enough to make you grimace every time, then you may not have the right position.
- Plan to breastfeed about 8 to 12 times in every 24-hour period. Your baby is good at giving hunger signals: rooting around searching for your nipple; putting his hand in his mouth; and looking increasingly alert. Always feed on demand. You can never over feed a breastfeeding baby.
- Try not to introduce a bottle or other nipples, including pacifiers, until breastfeeding is well established. The thrusting motion required to nurse is different from that required to suck a nipple, and Baby could get confused.
- Stay hydrated! Water is the staple for good health and while breastfeeding a mother’s body can be more sensitive to dehydration. This means that it is important for mums to keep up their water intake throughout the day, especially during feeding times, so be sure to keep a bottle nearby at all times. It is not always easy, but it is worth the effort as dehydration can make you feel tired and you certainly don’t need that! A good way to check your hydration level is by looking at the color of your urine. If it’s clear or light colored, you are probably sufficiently hydrated. Check out our range of funky drink bottles designed especially for breastfeeding mothers with a helpful reminder to “Drink up mummy!”.
- Nurse in a calm environment to help your milk let down. After a while, all it will take for your milk to let down is unhooking your bra for your baby, or even just hearing any infant cry and you will get to know the feeling of your let down too. So when it's about to hit, get that baby on there or duck for cover because its going to start spraying.
Common Breastfeeding Challenges
Here are the most common breastfeeding-related problems and how you can avoid them:
- Sore and cracked nipples. Check the position of the baby when she latches on; smooth lanolin over your nipples after each nursing session; and let your nipples air dry after each nursing session. Also, alternate which breast you start on for each session. You should also not hear any clicking or sucking sound. If you do, the baby isn't positioned right. Bring Baby closer to you, and hold his head firmly so his mouth covers as much of the areola as possible.
- Engorgement (overly full breasts) or blocked milk duct. Warm compresses, letting warm water run over your breasts in the shower, or laying cabbage leaves on your breasts can help relieve some of the pressure but be sure not to leave it on for longer that 10mins as this can dry up your milk. You can also try hand expressing some milk between feeds but only enough to ease the discomfort expressing more could promote your body to produce more than needed.
- Mastitis or breast infection. If you feel like you have the flu and one breast is red, hot and sore, you probably have mastitis. Get in touch with your midwife or GP immediately. In the meantime, keep nursing and/or pumping on that side as much as you can, even though it hurts. To prevent mastitis, make sure you empty your breasts regularly. If you do take antibiotics, add a probiotic (good bacteria such as lactobacillus) supplement, or eat a container of live culture yogurt every day, to help prevent the next complication: thrush.
- Thrush. Thrush is a fungal infection that can form on the breast and be passed between your breast and the baby's mouth. Overly moist breasts, sore or cracked nipples, following a diet high in sugar or yeasty foods or taking antibiotics, birth control pills or steroids can all throw your body's natural yeast levels out of control and lead to thrush. Symptoms are very sore nipples, achy or painful breasts or pink, flaky, shiny, itchy or cracked nipples.Your baby may have little white spots in her mouth, or a diaper rash that won't heal. You will need to treat both your breasts and the baby's mouth with a prescription antifungal or with the over-the-counter anti-fungal gentian violet. To prevent thrush, air-dry your nipples, use nipple pads in your bra, wear a clean bra every day, and reduce the amount of sugar and yeasty products in your diet.
- Tongue tie. Tongue -tie is a medical condition that affects many people, and has special implications for the breastfed baby. The medical term for the condition known as tongue-tie is “ankyloglossia”. It results when the frenulum (the band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is too short and tight, causing the movement of the tongue to be restricted. In order to extract milk from the breast, the baby needs to move his tongue forward to cup the nipple and areola, drawing it back in his mouth and pressing the tissue against the roof of his mouth. The tongue plays an important role in breastfeeding, and if the baby’s frenulum is so short that his tongue can’t extend over the lower gum, he may end up compressing the breast tissue between his gums while he nurses, which can cause nipple soreness or damage. Contact your midwife, plunket consultant or GP if you have any concerns.
Tips to help increase your supply:
- Breastfeeding is a basic supply-and-demand activity. The more you nurse, the more milk your body makes. Feed baby whenever they demand and let them continue sucking even when you feel that your breasts are empty.
- After every feed try pumping or hand expressing for a little longer to trick your body into thinking it needs to make more (related to point above).
- Being dehydrated can affect your milk supply so be sure to keep a bottle around always and drink as much as possible throughout your day. “More water = More milk”. Check out our range of water bottles designed specially for breastfeeding mothers.
- Galactagogues (a food or drug that promotes or increases the flow of a mother's milk) aka The Lactation Stations nutritious product range of Lactation treats. Our goodies are packed with natural ingredients containing essential nutrients which are needed throughout breastfeeding and ideal to helping to boost your milk supply. Head over to our store to check out our range and grab yourself some.
- Rest – It’s easier said than done when you’re a mum but your body is working overtime to produce milk for your body so be sure to rest when you can to save some energy for your “milk making superpowers”.
Before you fret about your milk supply know that if you are exclusively breastfeeding (i.e. your baby is consuming nothing but your breastmilk) around the clock (day and night) and your baby is gaining weight, whether he/she is in the 99th or 1st percentile in weight compared to other babies, then you have you a full milk supply suited perfectly for your little one so our treats are simply a tasty, nutritious reward for you through your busy day and let’s be honest at night too. Remember, breastfeeding is a basic supply-and-demand activity. The more you nurse, the more milk your body makes. If you are concerned please consult with your midwife, GP or contact your local lactation consultant which can be found at http://www.nzlca.org.nz/find.html.