Although breastfeeding may be deemed natural, it is also difficult for most first time mums in the beginning to get the hang of it. I know it was for me
I remember within the first few hours of my sons life the nurses had me attempt to latch him onto my breast and it felt so strange and I truly thought I would never get the hang of it.
Three months later, both my son and I have got this breastfeeding gig down pat and you will too over time.
This blog post may be a bit messy to read but I really wanted to sit down and share with you guys all my tips that I learnt from being a first time mum and the products that also aided in my breastfeeding journey.
So it goes without saying, but make sure you breastfeed your newborn as much as you can while you’re in the hospital! Why? Well because you are surrounded 24/7 by lactation consultants and nurses who are more than happy to guide you.
I can’t tell you how many times I asked the nurse to help me latch my son every time she came in to check on us. Literally every time.
The first few days that my son fed from my breast I remember feeling constantly worried that he wasn’t getting enough milk but now I know for sure that he was. The human body is truly magical and knows exactly how much milk to provide for your little one.
In saying that be sure to breastfeed as often as you can in the first week of your little ones life as this is the time where your body establishes how much it will need to produce from there on out.
Make sure you are prepared with plenty of nursing bras that are nice and big because your breast size will increase SIGNIFICANTLY during the third or fourth day as your milk begins to come in.
The first few days your breasts will produce something called colostrum which is the first form of milk that is yellow in colour and gives your baby all they need in their first days of life, so be prepared to have a few stained shirts leaving the hospital as well.
During the first week of breastfeeding my son I felt a slight pain in my nipples, although they weren’t cracked or bleeding ( thank god ,) I did struggle with the pain and so once they healed I used Earth Mama Organic Nipple Cream every day to soothe them, I also had purchased the Medela Nipple Shields just in case and although I never actually used them myself I have heard great reviews about them.
I also tried to let my breasts air dry as much as possible after each nursing session, but this was honestly hard to achieve because my breasts were leaking constantly.
Which leads me to my next topic … breast leakage.
Gone are the days where I can just whip on a bra and clothes and continue on with my day. Breast pads have literally become my best friend and I don’t put on a bra without them.
I actually began to use them in my last few months of pregnancy too as I found that my breasts would begin to leak spontaneously in preparation for breastfeeding.
I tried out both reusable and disposable breast pads and although I loved the idea of reusable ones I found that they just didn’t absorb the milk well enough and I still had leaks whereas the disposable ones never leaked and have a sticky side which sticks to your bra, therefore preventing it from moving around.
Also something that I never knew before breastfeeding myself is that your little one feeding from one breast will automatically stimulate the other breast to leak, so I learnt to pump from one breast while feeding him directly from the other or to use the Haakaa to collect the milk that was dropping.
I highly recommend doing one of these things because otherwise your milk is just getting absorbed by your breast pad and thats a waste for no reason at all.
The breast pump that I use is http://pumpables.co and it is seriously my all time favourite product that I have, there is not one day that goes by where I do not use it and it has saved me from a lot of problems. Ill explain later …
Not only is the Pumpables Genie Plus super quiet but it is small in size and so is great to take on the go when I feel like my breasts will get full on a long day out.
Speaking of breast pumps … did you know that you don’t have to take apart, wash and sterilise your breast pump after every single use? I found out after a month of doing exactly that, that instead you can just store it in a clean plastic bag and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours!
Now back to the Haakaa, it is a product that I discovered myself online and to be honest with you I use it very rarely but I wanted to share it with you because the idea is great it just doesn’t really work for me.
It works by drawing out your milk using suction while your little one feeds on your other breast, it’s made from silicone and is great for expressing milk discreetly and is super cheap. I however find that the suction is too strong for my breast and so I only use it on occasions.
Now one of the absolute main reasons I wanted to share this blog with you is because around the ten day mark of breastfeeding I found my breasts becoming really full and tender. At the time I had no idea what it was or what could happen if I didn’t release the milk and so I didn’t do anything because at that point in time I hadn’t introduced the pump yet so I just continued breastfeeding my little one like usual.
Needless to say my breasts became engorged because my son was only drinking a tiny amount of milk at that age and then it lead to the dreaded mastitis.
My breasts were incredibly sore to the touch and I couldn’t even bend down without yelping in pain, I STILL didn’t think it was too serious and so I got a warm compress, applied them to my breasts and went to sleep thinking it would get better by the time I woke up. Around two hours later I woke up with a severe fever, and the pain at this point was unbearable.
My husband spent the whole night by my side trying to reduce my fever and I had the most painful pumping session of my life to try and relieve my breasts of the milk.
So please if you take anything from this blog, pump pump and pump!
Also just for your knowledge, pumping and breastfeeding together will not prevent Aunt Flo ( aka your period ), from coming back. It is common knowledge that breastfeeding will prevent your period from returning for up to six months, however this is only if you’re EXCLUSIVELY breastfeeding. Just so you know … because I didn’t.
Now for more details on the actual feeding part itself … I’m not sure if you have heard of cluster feeding or not, but we experienced this with our little one around the one month mark.
He began to feed for very short amounts of time and then pull off the breast, became irritable and had very short naps in between these feeds.
This left me physically and emotionally drained ( even more than I already was ), and at times I felt I was doing something wrong because I didn’t understand why it was happening.
It also brought up one of my recent concerns which was whether I was producing enough milk for him or not. I know now that there is always milk in your breasts and they are never completely empty.
The only tip I can pass down to you that worked for me is making sure that I had a bottle of pumped breastmilk ready for his last feed before bedtime. This ensured that he was fully satisfied with a larger quantity of milk right before bed and so he would sleep for longer periods through the night.
I know that a few of you may have concerns about nipple confusion if you introduce the bottle too early on but thankfully this didn’t happen to us and he continued with both breast and bottle happily.
All I can say is don’t fear introducing the bottle to your little one just because you’re scared of nipple confusion because all babies are different and it may not necessarily happen to you.
There is so many scary things that you will come across during your research and although reading and learning beforehand is great just be sure to not let it affect you in any way negatively and to just go with your instinct.
I remember researching about tongue tie and having no idea what it was or what it would even look like and the stories I read were kind of terrifying. And although my son had a bit of tongue tie himself we dealt with it calmly and overcame it with persistent feeding and patience. So trust yourself Mama you got this!
Another thing that I was completely unaware of is that breastmilk has a term attached to it called foremilk and hindmilk. You’re probably like ‘ Ummm what is that?’.
Don’t worry I was also super confused when I first came across it during my crazy researching sessions before delivering.
But actually they are only terms that refer to whether we’re looking at milk at the start or end of a feed.
Foremilk is the clear, watery milk that appears at the beginning of a nursing session whereas hindmilk is the white, creamier milk which has a higher fat content and appears at the END of a feed.
So why am I going through all of this terminology with you? Well because it’s actually really important to ensure that you baby reaches to the hindmilk as this has the higher nutritional value and fat content to keep them fuller and satisfied for longer.
My little one used to and still does fall asleep on the breast while feeding and so I read that it can help to switch breasts in between feeds, however as I mentioned above that means that they will only be getting the foremilk which over time can lead to weight loss and fussiness. So for me I didn’t follow the advice of those articles and instead I stuck with keeping him on one breast until he was either full or I felt it was ’empty’.
And so how do I deal with him sleeping on the breast? Well my amazing midwife taught me that by gently stroking the side of the cheek down towards their chin you will stimulate them to continue sucking even while dozing off. Genius right?!
One last thing before I end this extremely long blog post is, How to boost your milk supply? My milk was pretty consistent until around the 2 month point when Aunt Flo decided to return and my milk supply dropped dramatically.
And so I began to incorporate fenugreek into my diet … Warning: If you take it every day or numerous times a day your armpits will smell of fenugreek.
I add one and a half tablespoons of fenugreek into water with four pieces of sliced ginger and l boil it so that the fenugreek can steep. I then put some more hot water to increase the quantity, along with a chamomile teabag and add honey to sweeten.
I also have rolled oats most mornings as this is said to also help with boosting milk supply. But the main thing that has seriously increased my milk supply is lactation cookies. They contain brewers yeast, flaxseed and oats which are the three most important ingredients and seriously it works!
If I have time and am not feeling too lazy I will make some myself with some chocolate chips and desiccated coconut but if I just can’t make the time then I turn to my ultimate favourite lactation cookies http://franjoskitchen.com
They are Australian made and have various flavours like fig and almond, chocolate chip and coconut. And if you don’t feel like cookies then you can have their lactation museli instead! Delicious and beneficial! Although they’re made in Australia they can also be purchased right here in Dubai from http://puresouth.ae
Pure South is a lovely cafe filled with various goodies that us Aussies here in Dubai are missing being so far away from home, and not only that they have a great cafe upstairs that has everything from breakfast to good old meat pies and sausage rolls.
Last but not least and this goes without saying, breastfeeding takes a lot out of you, literally, so hydrate yourself as much as you can.
I find it quite difficult to drink large amounts of water and so this one is still a challenge for me, but I try to keep a large bottle of water with me at all times so I can sip throughout the day.
So there it is my Breastfeeding Tips and Essentials Blog, I hope I covered everything and if you are a Mum yourself or a Mum to be and have any tips or tricks or even questions that you would like to share with me please do, I would love to hear your thoughts on it all.
And if you know anyone who may benefit from this then please share it with them. Because I feel like many topics that I have written about I had to learn the hard way because they don’t seem to be talked about online or amongst people.
Happy breastfeeding everyone!
Love Jessica Cairney.