This month’s advice piece if for mums who plan to or are considering breastfeeding. We asked Orla Dorgan from Lactation Talk to give us some tips around what she considers are essentials for breastfeeding.
Well, we have the most important part – breasts that produce milk. You might think we don’t need anything else. But there are a few tips I give to make the start of your breastfeeding journey easier.
Antenatal Breastfeeding Class
I would say this is pretty essential unless you are very familiar with breastfeeding and how it all works. Taking a class gives you an enormous amount of knowledge, confidence and excitement to start your journey. Mums who don’t take a class often regret this, as they say, they didn’t know what to expect or what to do or that they thought it would be natural. You learn all about milk production and how it works, how often baby feeds, how do you know when they are hungry and when they are full. You need to know is baby getting enough milk and what are the best holds or breastfeeding positions to help baby latch on and so much more. This gives you tonnes of confidence to know what to expect. Remember when you were learning to drive, you took lessons first to know what to do, it is the same with breastfeeding. It is natural but a learned skill.
Multi-mam Compresses or a Balm
These can be handy to have near you, as when our milk supply transitions from Colostrum to milk around day 3-5, babies can feed for longer and the nipples can become sensitive. This is normal but breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful. When babies have growth spurts around day 10, 3 weeks and 6 weeks, babies can feed for longer and more frequently at the breast and again, nipples may become sensitive. They are a muscle and need care. Applying some balm pre feeds can help give an extra layer to the nipple and a multi-mam compress after a breastfeed is soothing and even better when just out of fridge.
A good nursing bra is essential as breasts will need support in these weeks and months when breastfeeding. They will increase in size and fluctuate throughout the day – fuller and larger pre feeds and softer and smaller post feeds. Bra size may change throughout pregnancy. A good time to get measured is around a month before delivery, so around 8 months. The size at this time will be similar to what they will be 6-8 weeks post partum. After this, breasts may change in size and may need to be measured again. Underwired bras are not recommended so, they need to be specific nursing bras. Night nursing bras are great for overnight as they are soft and have easy access for breastfeeding and to hold nursing pads if leaking breastmilk. Thy joys of motherhood!
Many Mums leak breastmilk when breastfeeding and many other mothers don’t. You won’t know until you start our breastfeeding journey. Leaking breastmilk or not leaking breastmilk is not a sign of how good or not so good your milk supply. It means. If you do need to use breastpads, change them regularly as they can harbour bacteria if not. You have an option of disposable breastpads or reusable breastpads which are often made of cotton and so soft. The only downside is they can be bulky but you can use a mixture of both if you wish. The reusable breastpads when finished can be used as your facial cleansers!
Plenty of water and snacks
You burn up to an extra 500 calories a day when breastfeeding. Wow, I hear you say. This is equivalent to 30 mins running, cycling, swimming or any exercise. So, have water near you before you it down to feed, you could be there for 20-40 mins in those early days. Eating regularly is important to keep your energy levels up and body fuelled. Snacks that are handy are anything with protein, bananas, oats or chocolate or anything you like. Remember you are a busy breastfeeding Mum, there is no time for cooking or baking up fancy snacks or meals. Eating regularly will help you. Even better if someone does it for you. It’s the best gift you can get, food!
Any Other Top Tips
Take the 1st 6 weeks as a time to get to know your baby. We can often be wishing this time away as it is a busy time and full on. We can want to have loads of visitors or be out and about. There is loads of time for that. Having a new baby is so special and you really want to enjoy this time and rest and relax. Birth is massive and you have just become a Mum, be it for your 1st baby or 3rd baby. Take this a time to get to know baby and it is baby’s way of saying “slow down mum and spend time with me”. Skin to Skin is such a lovely way to connect with baby in these early weeks and I recommend lots of it. And if baby is separated from you in these early weeks, it is never too late to start skin to skin and for dad to partake here too.
I hope these to tips help you on your breastfeeding journey and make it an enjoyable experience. Breastfeeding is so rewarding for both Mum, baby and family and having the right support can make all of this happen. Knowing to reach out for help and who to reach out to for help, can really help you on your breastfeeding journey too.