The breastfeeding princess & essential boobie feeding tips
When Kate Middleton announced she was preggers a lot of people were wondering will she breastfeed or bottle feed? Kate did decide to breastfeed, which isn't a shock based on the history of royals who breastfed (including the queen,) but she didn't want to be the next big ambassador for the breastfeeding community.
I for one (spoken as a breastfeeding mum) was delighted with that choice- why you ask? It's nobodies business how you feed your baby but your own. There is already too much pressure on new mums to breastfeed and if they struggle some find it difficult to get the support they need to be able to carry on.
I heard a mum talking about how a health visitor had told her that giving her baby a bottle (after struggling with the boobie feeding) was like putting it under a cows udder - wait to go health visitor kick a lady when she's down and bring on PND why don't you.
We all know that breast is best but what is even better is a happy mum and some midwives and health visitors are forgetting this. In fact the number of women who start breastfeeding is actually quite high but it's the number of women still breast feeding at the six week check which is falling. My guess on this is that it is perceived to be really easy as it should be 'the most natural thing in the world' so if a new mum chooses to breastfeed and runs into difficulties they blame themselves and convince themselves that it is in someway their own fault - cue the tears, frustrations and guilt when actually it can be nothing to do with them at all. Breastfeeding can be hard work at the beginning but people are not aware of the problems so don't seek help to get them through the learning curve in the first few weeks.
A pregnant friend recently asked for my view on breastfeeding and I gave her a few pointers of things to watch out for which I will list below. She told me it was the most useful information she had been given through hours of web searching and it will will probably help her through the first few tough weeks so I thought I should share these:
Put in your notes that you want to b/f so do not give baby formula- if your baby needs feeding and you are unable to breastfeed, ask someone to show you how to express to give baby your milk in a cup . Once they give baby a bottle as a first feed it can be difficult to get b/f going as the suck is different.
Babies are usually tired after labour so may not be interested in feeding straight away- remember they only need 1 teaspoon as their stomachs are so small. Some midwives will try and push and force baby onto your boob- you can tell them to back off!! Make the most of this restful period as the next night you will be feeding for what feels like all night. If it doesn't happen on night two it will be night three it's just baby feeding to bring your milk in.
You can ask the midwives to check for a tongue tie, these can affect the latch and cause pain and cracked nipples when feeding but may not impact feeding at all, all babies are different.
When you feed baby for the first time it might click straight away and latch perfectly - fingers crossed for you! If it doesn't don't worry you’re not alone that's why there are so many support groups out there.
Take your time, make yourself comfy and yes ideally baby should open their mouths widely but some babies are knackered from the birth if they're not ready wait until they are. Try and ensure an hour’s skin to skin straight away- it helps with bonding and breastfeeding as the contact helps boost your milk. The young one didn't feed until 2hrs after he was born and even then I think he could have gone longer- remember 1 teaspoon!
If time is getting on and you feel like you need to feed baby and they are not interested because they are tired, strip them off and have skin to skin time, change the nappy, sit baby up and talk to him/her. They may quickly fall asleep again as its hard work being a baby so you might need to do this while they are very little if you feel they are not taking enough. But generally speaking babies will cry when hungry but sometimes forget what to do. They don't feed well when they are crying so offering a feed when they are showing cues to feed works best.
All babies are different some feed quickly within 5-10 mins on one boob only every 3-4 hrs whilst others take 30 mins on each boob and feed every two hours. Try and see it as your time with baby and not a chore, only you can do this special thing for your baby but daddy can help too. He can get baby for you and get you a drink, snack, book while you feed and even stay up and chat to you.
If you’re prepared you can make sure you’re comfy with plenty of water and snacks as b/f makes you thirty and hungry but don't worry your burning more calories so you can eat those chocolates and biscuits at 3am and not feel guilty.
With your milk will come tears for no reason but your hormones- you might want to prepare daddy so he knows it's normal. Also your boobs may go hard (rock solid) and be sore to touch this is normal and called engorged boobs and this is when you will love anyone who brings you Savoy cabbage! Put the cabbage in the fridge or freezer and put a leaf on our boobs inside your bra - it really does help but remember to take it out or change leaf if you pop out to the shops as when it warms up it smells of cabbage.
Your boobs may become lumpy too as your milk comes in this is normal and the lumps should settle after 24 hrs but it might be a good idea to massage the lumps in a warm shower and feed from the lumpy side to force the milk through as the lumps are blocked milk ducts. Feeding and or expressing will push the milk through dispersing the lumps, you need to watch for lumps or red patches as if the milk stays blocked the ducts may become inflamed causing mastitis. If you catch this early you won't need antibiotics and will skip the painful experience of infected milk ducts.
B/f shouldn't hurt if the latch is good- this may take some practice if it hurts use your little finger to 'delatch' baby and try again. If you do this continually your nipples may become sore and crack, this is when lansinoh will be your best friend as it keeps the nipple moist so it can heal. (It also works wonders on chapped hands and lips) if you have really sore nipples or blisters you can get gel gauze from the chemist which will help with the healing.
Some babies just can't find the latch, this is where nipple shields might work as it gives baby something to latch onto straight away drawing your nipple into the shield - I found the young one dribbled milk when he fed with them but it was a welcome break before his tongue tie was snipped. You can also use them to get your nipples a break if they're sore- it won't take all the pain away but will take the edge off to give you some rest.
They say not to give a dummy before 6 weeks as it may hinder b/f ,both my boys had one within three days, the young one wanted to suck without getting milk and would pull off the boob but would suck my finger for hours. The boy wanted to suck the boob all the time so he had a dummy as he was making me really sore and was always attached.
I also expressed when my milk came in as my boobs were so hard that the boys struggled to feed on them and quite frankly they were hurting too much to leave the milk in there. Expressed milk can be left in the fridge for 5 days or freezer for 6 months. Daddy can give some milk but you might want to pump at the same time to keep up your milk production with demand of baby.
Your milk at night time is higher in calories so it's super milk for babies, which is why they feed more at night.
Once you think you've got it baby will probably have a growth spurt- (around 10 days, 4-6 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks) they will sleep for longer and feed more frequently leaving you doubting whether your milk is good enough - it will be you just need to get through the day or two of increased feeds to increase your supply. The worst thing you can do is doubt yourself - trust your body it grew your baby and produced your miracle so it should be good at producing the milk to feed baby. Don't let others even health visitors make you doubt yourself either they are not lactation experts and have been known to give wrong advice, same goes for your GP. This is when the breastfeeding support network will be fab as they can give you the right advice.
Some babies develop thrush- not necessarily from you so this can be painful to feed for them so they will pull off and will make feeding painful- your GP can treat this.
Don't let this put you off, it's fab, it's free, readily available and always at the right temperature, trust yourself and have confidence to tell people to back off if you want. Find a good support network and you'll be fine and once you get past the first month your home free.
Don't believe the myth that formula fed babies sleep more it is just that a myth. Some babies are more demanding than others regardless of how they are fed. I know people who have stopped b/f as they think baby will sleep - they didn't and had to then deal with bottles, sterilising, warming bottles etc while baby is screaming.
Don't think that you have to b/f it is your choice to feed your baby how you want to so don't let anyone pressure you into anything you don't feel comfortable with boob or bottle.
This isn't to scare you but to make you aware of some pitfalls which can but not always occur- if you're prepared you know it's normal so will stop you blaming or doubting yourself.