Thursday 14 June 2012

Breastfeeding Tips

For this week’s Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt the topic is mum to mum sharing.

Breastfeeding is a beautiful experience and words can’t really describe how it feels to feed your baby with milk that your own body has made.  Even though there are many beautiful benefits to breastfeeding and it is an enjoyable experience it is hard work especially in the first few days and weeks when you are recovering from the birth and breastfeeding is not always a calm issue free experience.

Every woman’s experience with breastfeeding is different.  Every breastfeeding journey is different.  Even though every woman who has breastfed will have their own personal experience they can understand and empathise with other women.  Especially when new to breastfeeding another woman’s pearls of wisdom about breastfeeding can be invaluable advice to a new mum at the start of her breastfeeding experience.

During my own breastfeeding journey in the first few weeks I felt a little out of my depth, paddling madly to keep afloat and carry on breastfeeding.  From the first time little man latched on to my breast and began feeding I loved breastfeeding but there were a few ‘rough’ patches where I found myself struggling and unsure if my relationship with breastfeeding would continue.  Before I knew it those early days where gone, in a blink of very sleep deprived eyes I had struggled through those moments of uncertainty and difficulties and I felt confident in breastfeeding and could truly enjoy the experience without any dark shadows spoiling those beautiful moments with little man. 

I would like to impart a few of my own pearls of wisdom about breastfeeding.  These ‘top tips’ helped make my own experience easier -

Take one day at a time.
Don’t put added pressure on yourself at the very beginning to ‘succeed’ at breastfeeding by forcing yourself to have a goal of feeding for a long period of time.  I think it’s good to want to and hope to breastfeed for a certain amount of time or to plan to breastfeed until your little one self-weans but until you are confident and happy with breastfeeding I think by giving yourself goals that you may not achieve you can make yourself feel pressure, guilt and frustration.   Give yourself small goals that are easily achievable.  Be proud of yourself for every single day that you breastfeed and before you know it 1 day will turn into 7 days then into 30 etc.

It’s all about the latch.
A good or bad latch affects breastfeeding; it affects both mum and baby.  By not having a good latch your baby will not be feeding efficiently and may not be getting the nourishment they need.  Also a bad latch can cause your nipples to get sore and cracked which doesn’t help make the experience enjoyable.  Getting a good latch will ensure baby can feed efficiently, suckling properly and getting a good flow of milk which not only ensures baby is satisfied but also lessens the risk of engorgement as baby can empty the breast.   A good latch also helps minimise the chance of sore, irritated and cracked nipples.  If you are having problems with your baby’s latch seek help from your health visitor, a breastfeeding counsellor or breastfeeding groups.

Be prepared and get comfy.
Create a breastfeeding nest with everything you want to hand during a feed.  Have pillows, drinks, snacks, phone, TV remote, laptop/tablet, book etc. in easy reach so that you don’t have to disturb a feed as everything you need is there ready and waiting for when you want it.  Breastfeeding a newborn and feeding on demand is time consuming and you will spend many an hour sat feeding your bundle of joy so get comfy!! 

Don’t say no to help.
Breastfeeding especially in the early days is very time consuming.  I felt like I was chained to the sofa, sat hours on end breastfeeding and for the first time in my life watching day time TV.  To begin with I struggled with this, feeling like I was being lazy with lots of other things to do but I soon came to realise that it was a full time job looking after and breastfeeding a newborn and other, less important jobs could wait.  To begin with when family and friends offered to help I felt bad sitting there doing nothing whilst they wanted to do jobs for me and would refuse but I soon came to realise I was doing my own job and if they offered I was stupid for refusing and their help was much appreciated.

Get help and support.
Breastfeeding can be daunting and there is nothing wrong with needing help, advice and support.  You can get advice and support from your health visitor, breastfeeding counsellors, breastfeeding groups and helplines.  Having someone who has breastfed and can understand what you are going through gives you a source of advice and having someone to talk to can help keep you sane.

During the first few months of little man’s life we went through a patch where he wasn’t gaining enough weight according to the ‘charts’.  I felt like a terrible mum and thought my milk even though the supply was abundant must not be nourishing enough and that I should give up.  With the help and support from Lee and my health visitor I persevered and did not make any rash decisions.  Lee was my rock and he really gave me the support and encouragement I needed.  Our health visitor is lovely and she gave me so much advice and support, instead of making me worry about his weight she always reassured and encouraged me.  Instead of being negative about where he was on the charts she said she was not worried about it as she could clearly see his was thriving and that he has plenty of wet and dirty nappies and that ‘health professionals’ sometimes looked too much at charts and not at the individual baby.  She said that how generally breastfed babies are leaner than formula fed babies and that they can grow slower and that I should not worry too much about the chart.  Their help and advice was invaluable to me at that time, I felt like a worthless, failure of a mum but by taking the time to consider things I carried on with breastfeeding and before I knew it he was gaining weight and thriving even more as a healthy little boy.

Look after yourself.
In the midst of being a new mum, being so busy breastfeeding a newborn and looking after your baby it can be easy to forget to look after yourself.  It is important to make sure you are nourished and hydrated so that you are in good health to be the source of nourishment for your baby.  Eat little and often throughout the day, even have a small snack in the night when you are up feeding little one and keep drinking plenty throughout the day to keep hydrated.

Get yourself a slave.
If you have a partner let them be your slave.  Get them to help make sure you are kept nourished and hydrated, let them cook for you and get you drinks.  Let them run around getting you what you need/want whilst you sit there like a queen breastfeeding your little baby.  Okay maybe not treat them like a complete slave with whips and chains but do allow them to help you even if it is to give you a break from baby, get you drinks and cook for you or prepare snacks that you can easily grab during the day whilst they are out working.  I believe without Lee’s help and support my breastfeeding experience would have come to an end early on.  Whilst it’s good that they help and support you make sure you encourage them to bond with baby by doing other things such as changing nappies, bathing, playing and if you to choose to later on feed baby with expressed breastmilk.  Use the time they are bonding with baby to have some much need ‘me’ time.

Positions, positions, positions.
There are lots of positions you can feed your baby in, from the traditional arm cradle, to the rugby hold to lying down plus others and I think it’s good to mix it up and try a few different positions.  I particularly found lying down to feed great during the night to conserve my energy and it was lovely to snuggle together lying down as he fed.  You can get advice and support on different positions from breastfeeding counsellors and other mums at breastfeeding groups.

Soothe soreness.
Luckily I have never experienced thrush or mastitis whilst breastfeeding but in the first few days of breastfeeding I did get slightly sore nipples.  I found Lansinoh cream superb.  I always found it really helped to rub a bit of breastmilk on my nipples at the end of a feed and let it dry naturally.

Be flexible.
Before your little bundle of love arrives you may have a vision of how you things will go but be prepared to be flexible as your little baby might have plans that differ to yours.  I imagined that I would be able to get the housework done whilst little man slept but he had a different plan and was not a baby who slept often and when he did it wasn’t for very long.  As such jobs were left undone and I had to adapt and that’s when a baby sling came to my rescue.

Invest in a baby sling.
During the first few days I found if he wasn’t breastfeeding (and he was breastfeeding lots and lots) he wanted snuggles and to be close to me and I found I never had a ‘free’ pair of hands to be able to do anything.  Thankfully my mum bought me a sling and it became invaluable to me and helped me do things and keep sane.  I loved having my little baby contently close to me whilst I could do things, it kept him happy and allowed me to do things.  I used a sling all the time, it helped me hang out his cloth nappies to dry, do the food shop without struggling with a big trolley, do the washing up etc.

Don’t be embarrassed.
Breastfeeding can cause embarrassment for some people.  Breastfeeding in public can cause embarrassment for some.  Also leaky boobs and squirting boobs is also a side effect of breastfeeding that can cause embarrassment.  Try to remember it is only natural and sometimes can’t be helped, I soaked through my tops once or twice but to me it wasn’t a big deal.  I often unintentionally squirted milk everywhere and it got to be that Lee would kindly laugh at me and say ‘you’re squirting everywhere again babe’.

Enjoy the time.
Enjoy precious cuddles with your little baby.  Enjoy the time together, bonding as you breastfeed.  Relax and enjoy, try not to worry too much about succeeding at breastfeeding.  Even though it is tiring waking up in the night for feeds, enjoy the time you have together breastfeeding whilst the house is quiet.  Before you know it those times of breastfeeding for long periods of time, gazing down at your little one will be gone and all you will have left is memories so whilst you are experiencing it enjoy this precious time together.

These are just the little things that helped me through our breastfeeding journey. 

To read more about the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt visit the facebook page or page on Boobie Milk's blog.  I hope you enjoy reading lots of posts about breastfeeding from the other lovely bloggers taking part, a few of which are –

Life Happens So Smile
Mummys Little Peeps 
Breast 4 Babies 
My Gorgeous Boys 
Mixed Bag Of All Sorts

As well as bloggers helping this campaign a host of breastfeeding companies are also supporting the campaign and have provided some great prizes for the main prize as well as other competitions happening throughout the month.  One of the companies is Cariad Mam who sell gorgeous maternity and nursing bras.

Use the rafflecopter below to enter the grand prize of over £500 worth of breastfeeding goodies for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. join a breastfeeding support group. The help and support you receive is invaluable.

  2. Scattymumofboys18 June 2012 at 09:54

    I love the term breastfeeding nest :) 
    I agree that a definite Top Tip is to take one day at a time and too much pressure can actually make it harder to breastfeed.

  3. Try to relax yourself and make sure you are not rushed and have plenty of time.

  4. breastfeeding is the best thing i have ever done. My son was born 3 months premature and although it was a struggle with determination and perseverance on both of our parts we got there. He is now 16 months old and still going strong. I have no plans to stop yet as it is what's best for him and me and it is what nature intended. x

  5. breastfeeding is the best thing i have ever done. My son was born 3 months premature and although it was a struggle with determination and perseverance on both of our parts we got there. He is now 16 months old and still going strong. I have no plans to stop yet as it is what's best for him and me and it is what nature intended. x