I produced a handout for my hypnobirthing couples and thought it might be useful to post it here too.
Breastfeeding is wonderful but can be challenging. Seek advice and support without hesitation if you need it.
Here are my tips:
Emma’s Breastfeeding Top Tips
1.GET INFORMED - do as much research as possible whilst pregnant. Good books include:
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding- La Leche League
The Positive Breastfeeding Book - Amy Brown
Why Breastfeeding Matters - Charlotte Young
Good sources of online info include:
2. Find out when and where your local Breastfeeding Support Group is held. Have this on your fridge before baby arrives. Maybe even go along and say hello whilst pregnant - you will be very welcome.
3. Breastfeeding should NOT be painful. Your nipples do NOT need to toughen up. Any on-going pain or cracking is signalling a latch issue. Even if the appearance of the latch seems good, pain is not normal. Get some support. Resolving a latch issue promptly and effectively is paramount.
4. Have faith in your body. It is extremely rare for a mother to not be able to produce enough milk. The best indicators that your baby is getting what they need is the number of wet and soiled nappies they produce and steady weight gain. Your midwife will ask you about this when they visit. How much you can pump and the appearance of the milk is NOT representative of how much you are producing and the quality of your milk.
5. Feed responsively (or on demand). Whenever your baby signals that they are hungry, feed them. Rigid feeding schedules can have negative implications on supply and your baby’s wellbeing.
6. The only way to increase your supply is by milk being taken from the breast. The more the baby feeds the more milk you will make. It is a SUPPLY & DEMAND style system. There are no foods or supplements that are proven to improve supply.
7. Embrace cluster feeding. It can be exhausting but this is baby building your supply. It can occur at the time of a growth spurt and in those early days. Go with the flow and try to enjoy the cuddles.
8. Get your partner, friends and family on board. Divulge some of the amazing facts you have learnt about breastfeeding and its benefits. It is much better if they are supportive of your choice rather than quickly suggesting the use of formula milks.
9. Be kind to yourself. Yes, breastfeeding is completely natural but so is walking. We had to learn how to walk, you and your baby are learning how to breastfeed. Ask for help if you need it.
10. Avoid pumping in the first 6 weeks unless advised by a professional. It can cause over supply and problems such as mastitis.
11. Use of dummies in the early days should be carefully considered as they can mask feeding cues. Failure to feed responsively can adversely affect milk supply and baby’s weight gain.
12. Avoid formula top ups unless advised by a breastfeeding expert/trained healthcare professional. Top ups mean baby is not taking milk from the breast. This will reduce milk supply, (google ‘TOP UP TRAP’). There is no evidence that formula makes babies sleep better. In the newborn this can appear to be the case but it is thought to be as a result of formula milk being more difficult to digest.
13. There are plenty of ways for Dads and other family members to bond with the baby. They do not need to use a bottle to feed the baby in order to bond.
14. Have a look into ‘The Forth Trimester’. We often have unrealistic expectations from our newborn infants, particularly where sleep is concerned. Having a read about this might help you to understand their behaviours.
15. Unless you are completely comfortable with it, consider keeping visits from well-wishers short and sweet in the early days. As you learn this new skill you may find it is a bit of a ‘boob out’ ‘help from partner’ ‘few attempts to perfect the latch’ type scenario to begin with. Before you know it you’ll be feeding confidently and it will be no issue whatsoever.
16. The Lullaby Trust is a great place to get advice on safe sleeping arrangements.
17. For expressed milk remember the RULE of SIX. Milk can be kept at room temperature for 6 hours post expression. 6 days at the back of the fridge and 6 months in freezer. After baby has begun to drink from the bottle it must be discarded after an hour. kellymom.com has good guidance for handling and storing expressed milk.
18. The World Health Organisation advises exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and highlights the benefits of breastfeeding for 2 years and beyond. Be confident in your own choices about how long you wish to breastfeed for.
19. It is possible to breastfeed after a return to work. Your local breastfeeding group will be able to support you.
20. Get some photos of you feeding to treasure.