If you’ve decided that you want to breast feed your baby but something goes wrong in the early days it can be really frustrating trying to get back on track. Sometimes you can’t get a latch and it doesn’t seem like baby is feeding well.
I’m not a breast feeding expert so I sent out some feelers to my ‘ladies in the know’ and the responses I got back were quick, thorough and brilliant! So if you or someone you know is finding it tough but really wants to breast feed, here are a few bits of advice:
1. Get support in the early days.
From the midwives, health visitors and support staff while you’re still in hospital to friends and mums who have done it before. If you’re not quite getting it when you’re in hospital then it will be even harder when you get home, your breasts are tight with milk and you can’t stop crying (when those hormones rush in). A friend of mine stayed in for two nights after her first baby just to make sure she had it sorted and she’s now fully breast fed two beautiful girls for 13 months each.
2. Skin to skin.
This is back to basics for babies. They are born with an instinct to search out your boobs and to suckle. It’s a two way process. You want to feed them, they want to feed. Getting naked with your baby not only feels good but stimulates their early instincts. So if a C-section or time away from mum with bottles has interfered with their instincts, lots of time skin to skin can help their little systems figure it all out again.
If you are tight with milk (bullet boobs) gentle massage in a warm bath can really help to relieve the pressure. Bathing in salt baths can help soften boobs – it’s also great for gently cleansing your lady parts.
Like massage, relieving your breasts of milk can help with the engorgement, ease pain, make boobs easier for babies to get their chops around and can also help keep up your milk supply (keep the milk in bags or bottles for future feeds). If you don’t have a pump you can do this manually but you can hire pumps from the hospital or from Bababoom.
5. Sleep and rest
When you sleep, your milk supply will increase. There’s a good reason why in simpler times women wouldn’t leave the house after child birth. Some cultures still have a month of complete rest for mums. When baby sleeps, you need to sleep. Chores can wait (or be outsourced).
6. Food and drink
Eat to recover and to ensure a constant milk supply. Now is not the time to diet. You need plenty of protein, ideally red meat to recover from labour and birth and plenty of good fats in your diet. Send partners or good intentioned relatives out to the shops on your behalf and get them to work in the kitchen.
7. Get specialist help
If you are still struggling it’s time to call in the Cavalry. And do it sooner rather than later. Here are some great local resources to call on.
Breast feeding support phone lines: 03001000212 or 03001000210
Local (West Essex) breast feeding counsellors Jo Eley on 01279 698625 or Philippa Hyams on 0208 522 3217.
Bosom Buddies, a breast feeding support group held in St Margarets every Friday from 11-12.30. Get advice from other mums, health visitors, midwives and specialist breast feeding counsellors.
NCT breastfeeding counsellors. NCT Helpline: 0300 330 0700.
Local independent midwife Becky also offers one to one breastfeeding support. Contact Becky via Bababoom.
With thanks to:
Zara Kaplan, Sandra Clayson and Becky at Bababoom