Obviously, there are untold benefits to breastfeeding.
Your midwife, your mum and every man and his dog will proclaim the benefits of breastfeeding while you're pregnant. You might even fit in one of two camps: DETERMINED to breastfeed, or simply willing to give it a go (and what happens, happens.)
Then, ‘the event’ happens, aka the arrival of your little one. A cute but slightly squished newborn is placed on your boob and suddenly you’re filled with fear.
Everyone said that it’s the most natural thing in the world but you might be struggling.
I’m here to admit what some won’t – Breastfeeding is bloody difficult work in the beginning for some of us but don’t despair, it gets better.
Here are some breastfeeding tips and tricks to help you on your journey.
** disclaimer ** This article is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice.
The first three days
• The first type of milk your body will produce after having a baby is called colostrum. It’s thick and yellow and SO IMPORTANT. • Newborn baby’s stomachs are about the size of a marble. • If they don’t latch straight away, you can hand-express into a special syringe. • It might take a few days for your milk to come in. Trust me, when it does, you’ll know. • Breastfeeding helps your womb contract back to its original size after labour. When you first start, you might get cramps in your uterus as baby latches on (it definitely curled my toes!) • If you’re having trouble establishing feeding, you might be kept in the hospital. Don’t despair, they have lactation experts on hand to help guide you through. Ask for help if you need it. • You’ll need to eat a bit more than you usually would. You’re a human life support machine now. • The more you feed your baby, the more milk you produce. • BUT, your milk can dry up quite quickly in the beginning if you’re not feeding regularly. • Nose to nipple may become your mantra.
The first three months
• * BOOB HACK * Cracked nipples? Nipple cream is brilliant, but rubbing breastmilk on the affected area works as well. • Try to make sure baby gets equal time on both breasts. This is for their benefit (milk wise) and for yours as well (so you don’t go lopsided in later life). • Because you can’t monitor how much milk your baby is getting, weight gain is a good indicator that you’re on the right track. • Try to avoid dummies until breastfeeding is established as this can get confusing for small babies. • Nursing bras make life more comfortable when you’re whipping them out three times an hour. • If you’re in pain during feeding (despite having a good latch), or your baby can’t latch and keeps falling off the breast, consider speaking to your midwife or GP about the possibility of a tongue tie. • There are loads of free apps for tracking breastfeeding, nappy changes etc – I constantly forgot during the early days and didn’t know which way was up. • There is public and free support for breastfeeding mums, (aka breastfeeding cafes). Sometimes it helps to talk to someone. • If your boobs feel hot or swollen, you might have mastitis. You’ll need antibiotics if that is the case. • * BOOB HACK * A warm compress on your boobs can help ease the swelling. • Don’t be afraid of the breast-pump! Sometimes new mum’s need a break, plus feeding baby is a great bonding exercise for new dads. (But remember to sterilise if you use bottles.)
Although breastfeeding can be gruelling in the beginning, trust me, those milky night time cuddles? Knowing your baby is getting the best start? It’s worth it. Trust me.