Ahhh breastfeeding! Just when you think all the confusion is over, post birth, out comes a bub who seems to want to be attached to your nipple ALL THE TIME.
The first days and weeks of breastfeeding your newborn, be it the first or fifth time, can be tough. It doesn’t matter whether bub takes to the breast like a pro or needs a little bit of extra help, it’s an exhausting, emotional process that takes time.
Preparation can be hugely helpful in setting you up for breastfeeding success. Many, many mothers (me included) didn’t give breastfeeding a second thought during pregnancy. In my case, I just assumed I’d show baby my boob and they’d get on with it. While that sometimes happens, it’s not always the case, and prior preparation can avoid a lot of issues and distress from occurring.
There is nothing a breastfeeding mother needs more than support (and we don’t just mean from a good bra, though that’s also important!) Sleep deprivation, hormones and the baby bubble can create the perfect storm of confusion and angst and a good support team should be right there to calm troubled waters and a stressed out mama. Family, including your partner (yes, men play a huge role in establishing breastfeeding) are the logical first points of call but don’t be afraid to have the number for a specialist Lactation Consultant on speed dial. Lactation Consultants are breastfeeding experts and the best people to call on for professional help and advice.
This may seem obvious but many women don’t realise or forget just how hungry breastfeeding can make them. Add to this a newborn (and sometimes various other children) and there are plenty of mamas who reach midmorning and realise that they haven’t eaten yet. A healthy diet and plenty of water is essential for a good milk supply and staying on top of your health. Baking and freezing a stack of healthy snacks prior to birth is a great idea, as is stocking up on a few packets of healthymixes (these Milk Pantry Choc Chip Lactation Cookie Mixes) that friends or relatives can whip up for you.
The first days and weeks of feeding can be painful. While extreme pain generally means that something isn’t right with baby’s latch, most women will feel a little bit tender. The very last thing you want is anything rubbing or irritating your nipples. Stock up on super soft breast pads (reusable are great as they can just be popped in the wash) and a lanolin based nipple balm or treatment product like Hydrogel Breast Discs to stop any soreness in its tracks.
You are going to spend a lot of time sitting down! Having a comfy place to sit down and feed, especially if you’re a bit battered and bruised from birth, is a God send and can be a lifesaver for your back and neck which will be getting a workout from constant feeding and carrying. Setting up a little breastfeeding station is a great way to make sure you’ve got everything to hand. Pick a supportive chair and stack up any breastfeeding pillows, some healthy snacks, a water bottle and some books or magazines (don’t forget the TV remote and your phone before you sit down). That way, when it’s time to feed, you can fill up your bottle, sit down and relax as much as possible.
Want more advice on setting up for breastfeeding success? Check out our breastfeeding resources here.