We all know that breast is best and the large majority of pregnant women hope to be able to follow expert advice and breastfeed their babies. Unfortunately however, breastfeeding can be an uncomfortable and tricky experience and many are disappointed to have to move onto formula earlier than they would have liked. So to help you feel prepared, here's our Guide to Successful Breastfeeding for those wanting extra tips and facts about breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding provides numerous benefits for mother and baby. Research has shown that it can help protect mothers against breast and ovarian cancer, as well as weak bones in later life. It provides all the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months, and can also protect them against infections. But best of all, breastfeeding allows you and your baby to get physically and emotionally closer.
Preparation is key...
Do not leave it until baby is here to arm yourself with the tools of the trade, prepare for breastfeeding while you are still pregnant and have everything you need to hand. Here's your 'breastfeed with ease' shopping list:
Breast Pads - disposable or washable depending on your preference
Lansinoh Lanolin - a barrier cream to ease nipple soreness, good to slap on anyway as a preventative measure
Nursing Bras - buy 3 to start, you will be wearing them day and night as you will be sensitive and also want to secure your breast pads. We really recommend a stretch and recover style bra, until your size settles and you establish a nursing routine. Take a look at the Emma-Jane 361 Bra for an affordable solution.
Breastfeeding Tops - buy a few nursing vests to start off with that will be cross-functional, those that you can relax at home with and wear with a cardigan when out and about
Large Muslin Cloths - from mopping up sick, keeping covered when feeding to being a blanket for your newborn
Breast Shields - these help prevent sore nipples and collect leaking milk. Ah the joys of leaky boobs!
Have a breastfeeding focus group...
Get your friends/family members together that have breastfed, and pick their brains for tips and experience, even those that tried but soon failed will be a huge source of wisdom as they may have hindsight advice. When you come across breastfeeding concerns of your own when baby is born you can draw on these stories and know who to turn to for reassuring support.
The early days...
Your breasts will be extremely sensitive and sore at times as they undertake the task of feeding your newborn, prepare yourself for some periods of toe-curling feeds especially when your milk comes in after the third day and remember that your new baby may need to be given guidance too in terms of latching on, encouragement to feed etc. If your nipples are chapped or sore then using breast sheilds will help.
In the first couple of weeks after birth, be prepared to breastfeed frequently. Breastfeeding bras, vests and tops are an absolute godsend to allow quick access to the breast at a moment's notice and aid discretion in doing so in public.
Take care of yourself...
Breastfeeding can be hungry and thirsty work; so don't forget about feeding yourself. Have a supply of easy to reach snacks and drinks, and stock up on quick meals. As well as preparing sustenance, remember to prepare for unexpected visitors. Make sure you drink enough too.
Breastfeeding on the go...
Exposing your boobs in public can be a worry to new mums, it needn't be. There are a myriad of products to help make breastfeeding easy and discreet, the trick is having them close to hand when they are needed. When you are out and about you need to ensure that you have everything organised in order to nurse comfortably anywhere. As well as good quality nursing bras and breastfeeding tops, large muslin squares are great to cover up if you feel conscious, and most importantly remember you have nothing to feel uncomfortable about you are providing nourishment, love and comfort to your child.
Proper positioning of both mother and baby can help prevent sore nipples and insufficient milk supply. Make sure that the baby's head and body are facing the breast. Baby should come onto the breast chin-first, aiming the nipple to the roof of the mouth when the mouth is open wide. Your baby needs to take a good part of the areola tissue (darker in colour) into their mouth in order to be properly latched on. If you have flatter or inverted nipples then use a Latch Assist before feeding
Proper positioning (where the nipple goes deep into the baby's mouth and so is protected at the back of the mouth) can ease the pain of sore nipples and help ensure your baby is getting the proper amount of milk. Some mothers like to use a cushion to raise their babies to breast height; others use the natural nurturing approach of holding their babies diagonally across their bodies. The Rugby hold where the baby's legs lie alongside your hips can also be very comfortable.
Working and breastfeeding...
Since breastfeeding works on supply and demand, it will be important for you to pump and store your milk while at work if you cannot actually go to breastfeed your baby.
The most helpful thing here is a breast pump. A good quality breast pump will allow you to pump out milk so your baby can still be fed on your breast milk when you aren't around. You may need to pump during the day so talk with your employer and explain that you need a clean and private location and time in which to pump. Pretty soon you will be able to build up stock and retain your milk supply for as long as you want to continue breastfeeding.
If possible, you should start pumping and freezing your milk about a month before returning to work. This will give you a stock of milk for your baby. Plastic bags, such as Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags, are specially designed for freezing expressed breast milk.