WHAT I WISH I KNEW ABOUT BREASTFEEDING
It’s no secret that breastfeeding can be a challenging journey for any mother, regardless of whether you’re a first timer or a pro! There’s so many factors that can determine how successful you and your baby are at breastfeeding, from learning to latch to how much milk you’re producing.
Despite the many challenges that can arise, it’s such a special time for a mama and baby to bond. Keep reading to learn a bit about the breastfeeding journey of one of the mamas from Cake Maternity.
I thought I was prepared for breastfeeding. Prior to the birth of my first child I read countless breastfeeding books and blogs, pored over the websites of breastfeeding groups and authorities as well as watching YouTube videos of how to latch a baby and different breastfeeding positions.
I had purchased ALL the breastfeeding things… Nipple creams and butters, breast pads, nipple shields, booby ice packs and gel pads, numerous nursing bras and clothing, a breast pump and nursing pillows (yes plural).
Fast forward to postpartum and I realised I had only prepared for the physical aspects of breastfeeding, nothing could have prepared me for the emotional rollercoaster breastfeeding entails.
The immense pressure of being solely responsible for nourishing and sustaining the life of this tiny baby was mind blowing. More so than during pregnancy, the importance of drinking enough water, as well as eating enough nourishing food was constantly at the forefront of my mind.
The Record Keeping
Recording of the start and end of all feedings, wet nappies, dirty nappies, naps… Detailing every movement your baby makes is relentless but so necessary so that in your sleep deprived state, you can answer all the questions your healthcare provider has pertaining to your tiny human.
Advice Can Be Contradictory
In the first day or two postpartum, I saw many midwives who would each show me a different position or technique. At the time I was so frustrated and wished they were all on the same page about the ‘optimum way to breastfeed’, I know now that breastfeeding is so unique to the baby and mother and you need to find what works best for the two of you.
I felt so guilty over the fact I didn’t love breastfeeding right away, that I would be relieved at the end of each feeding and I couldn’t envisage a day where breastfeeding would be effortless. Sure enough it did get easier, just as everyone said it would, latching became an afterthought, feedings became quicker and pain free, we found our groove.
Secrets to Successful Breastfeeding
If, like Louise, you’re struggling to get the hang of breastfeeding straight away, know that you’re not alone. Although breastfeeding is a completely natural act, this is the first time you and your baby have done it together, so it’s important not to be too hard on yourself.
There’s no one size fits all method to master breastfeeding, but there are a few tricks that can help you along your way. But also keep in mind, you may not get there and that’s okay! It’s totally up to you and your baby whether breastfeeding is for you.
Relax and Get Comfortable
One of the most important parts of breastfeeding is ensuring both you and your baby are comfortable. You’re going to be spending a huge amount of time holding your baby during the first 6-12 months of their life, so pick a comfy position that works for you and stick with it.
Enlist the Help of Your Partner
Sometimes in those first few weeks where your little bub is just eating, sleeping and pooping, it can feel like the majority of the work has to be done by mum (especially if you are breastfeeding) as newborns can spend hours upon hours per day feeding.
But to help master the art of breastfeeding, we suggest enlisting the help of your partner. During the night they could be on nappy duty after you finish breastfeeding. This will ensure that you don’t doze off while feeding and that you’re both feeling that equal share of new parent exhaustion.
Pay Attention to Your Diet
Believe it or not breastfeeding can burn more than 500 calories per day. That is that equivalent of a 45-60 minute workout class, insane right? However, since it doesn’t really feel like you are burning these calories, it can take a big toll on your body and your energy levels.
That’s why creating and maintaining a healthy diet is very important when you want to stay healthy and energised throughout those early, sleepless nights. Also remember to drink all of the water! Hydration is key.
Try Some Teas
One of HotTea Mama’s best selling teas is Milk’s Up – a breastfeeding tea. All of its ingredients have been chosen due to their use over millennia as natural galactagogues. A galactagogue in a herb or food that is believed to naturally support your milk supply. The majority of the evidence for this is anecdotal, but there is a growing amount of small-scale scientific research that shows that these ingredients really can support breastfeeding mums.
Fenugreek is a key part of the blend. In a 2018 meta-study of all the research done into fenugreek and breastfeeding, it showed that it did increase milk supply for the majority of women who took it. It also increased the fat content of the milk they produced. But why this happens is still a mystery! The seeds of these plants contain phytoestrogens which mimic your female hormone, oestrogen. This is why some believe that they can help support breastfeeding. However, no one is 100% sure.
Fennel is also high in phytoestrogens, and like fenugreek, has also been used for millennia to support lactation. Only a few studies exist looking at its efficacy, but they do show similar results to fennel, and as a result we included it in our blend too.
The other galactagogue ingredients in the blend are anise and nettle. These have been selected due to their long standing traditional use. The sweet and warming flavours of all these ingredients are balanced with rosemary and lemon verbena. So it is as delicious as possible, to help you through one of the most challenging aspects of motherhood.
Give Yourself Permission to be Less Than Perfect
This one is so important. During pregnancy so many mamas spend their time reading all of the breastfeeding literature, browsing forums, watching videos, all to prepare themselves for the most successful journey possible.
One of the realities of parenthood, though, is that it’s almost impossible to do everything perfectly! You’re going to make mistakes along the way but you will learn on the job. Over time, what seemed impossible will become second nature.
Ask For Help
There’s so many healthcare professionals out there whose job it is to help you. If you’re struggling to get the hand of feeding, we highly recommend reaching out to a lactation consultant to help you and bub find your groove.
Don’t Compare Your Journey to Others
Just as we are all unique, so are our breastfeeding journeys. Stay true to yourself and continue as long as it works for both you and your baby. Don’t listen to other people’s opinions.
Practice makes perfect, or at least that’s how the saying goes. In this case, being consistent and practicing your latch is the best way to go. It won’t happen overnight. For some, it can take months to get it down pat but once you do, it will easily become second nature for both you and your little one.
Good Nursing Bras
When that milk comes in 1-2 days after you give birth, you will feel it! Just when you thought your pregnancy boobs couldn’t get any bigger, they do, and they become very sensitive as they’re constantly filled with milk.
That’s why finding comfortable yet quality nursing bras is essential in your breastfeeding journey. There’s nothing worse than feeling an underwire digging into your skin or popping out the top of an ill fitting bra. A good quality, correctly fitting nursing bra should feel like you’re wearing nothing at all.
At Cake Maternity, we have a huge selection of high quality maternity and nursing bras for any style, size, or function. We’re just as passionate about supporting Mother Nature as we are about supporting mamas, so rest assured knowing each of our styles are Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified, meaning they’re safe for the environment, mum and bub.
Some of our favourites include our Tutti Frutti Nursing Bra which is a luxuriously soft and wire-free bamboo viscose bra that has delicate lace that’ll take you from day to night, pregnancy and beyond. Another favourite is our Croissant T-shirt Nursing Bra. This buttery soft flexi-wire nursing bra will hug you in all the right places, with its lightly contoured cups offering shape, comfort and support.
So there you have it! These are just a few tips that can help you master the art of breastfeeding. But remember, breastfeeding is not the be all and end all of becoming a mother and all that really matters is that you and your baby are happy and healthy.