Top Tips for Breastfeeding
7 breastfeeding tips to set you up for success
While you might think breastfeeding will be the easiest thing in the world, Jo Ryan, author of Babybliss (Harper Collins), says many women stop breastfeeding earlier than they’d like, or don’t even get started properly, because of some very common issues. ‘A lot of women are under the impression that breastfeeding comes naturally and, while it is a very natural thing to do, it often needs to be learnt by both mother and baby,’ she says. Here are her tips if breastfeeding isn’t working for you.
Don’t put up with pain
While breastfeeding might make you wince in the first few days, don’t put up with ongoing pain in the weeks and months that follow. ‘Correct attachment is the best way to avoid pain and, if you do have pain and it continues after about 20 sucks, then you need to take the baby off the breast and reattach them,’ says Jo. While nipple shields can be used to protect painful nipples (you can continue to feed while your nipples heal) seek some advice before throwing in the towel. ‘The best thing is to get some assistance, from a lactation consultant or your maternal and child health nurse, who can watch you feed your baby and ensure you’re attaching correctly,’ adds Jo.
Talk to friends
In the early days, and particularly if you’re a first-time parent, a support network is vital – if you can laugh about breast pads and leaky nipples with other mums, you’ll have someone to turn to if you run into problems. ‘A lot of women give up because they don’t have the support to get through the tough times,’ confirms Jo. ‘So I always encourage women, who want to breastfeed, to talk to friends or relatives or women in their mothers’ group who have breastfed successfully, and ask them how they did it and how they got past any problems. Ask for help that’s absolutely okay. It can be hard to get breastfeeding going well, so get as much help and support as you need.
Too much milk is putting baby off
Too much milk supply, particularly in the early days can also make breastfeeding more difficult that it should be. ‘Oversupply can be an issue, as babies tend to get frightened by a lot of milk shooting into their mouth and so they will pull off the breast,’ says Jo, advising mums to express off about 20ml from each breast before feeding. ‘You can also position your baby so they are sitting more upright when feeding and you can lean back slightly when feeding so the milk doesn’t flow so quickly into baby’s mouth.’
With so much on a new mum’s plate, keeping stress levels in check is vital for successful breastfeeding. ‘Milk supply can be affected by many things – primarily stress,’ reveals Jo. ‘So if you are feeling stressed or anxious, or are not getting enough sleep, it can affect breastfeeding. She says making sure you get regular rest is vital (sometimes easier said than done!), and to consider calling in help if you’re suffering from a serious lack of sleep.
Drink more water
Considering baby’s milk is produced by your own body, it’s vital to drink enough water to stay hydrated and eat a nutritious, breastfeeding diet. ‘If you’re not eating well or drinking enough water, your milk supply can drop,’ confirms Jo. ‘Drink plenty of water and eat good healthy meals and frequently. Breastfeeding can really dehydrate you so make sure you always have water on hand.’
Don’t let the workplace make you stop
Don’t feel pushed into giving up breastfeeding earlier than you’d like because you’re returning to the workplace. It is certainly possible to balance breastfeeding and work. ‘You can absolutely carry on breastfeeding when you return to work,’ advises Jo. ‘You can always express prior to returning to work to build up a nice supply in the freezer and then express while you are at work to maintain your supply. Most workplaces are breastfeeding mother-friendly these days. Alternatively you can wean your baby onto formula and just breastfeed morning and night.’
Don’t let your baby bite
As your infant grows, and first teeth start to appear, some babies start using mummy’s nipple as a teething ring while breastfeeding – ouch! ‘Biting can be a problem, but the best way to teach a baby not to bite is to take them off the breast as soon as they start to bite,’ says Jo. ‘Continue to do this or stop the feed if they continue biting, telling them why you’re removing the breast.’