You may be mum to a newborn, or you may have been breastfeeding for a while. It’s a commitment that is beneficial to your bub and it is always useful to consider these practical tips when breastfeeding.
Make sure to have a water bottle nearby throughout your day. You may prefer to stash one by your bedside, in the nursery and next to the couch. Breastfeeding is thirsty work and it is important to keep your own fluids up.
Pop a band on the wrist that is the side you breastfed on. That way when you do the next feed you know to switch to the other side. This will help you to keep track of the sides you are feeding on. It can be a very helpful reminder especially when you are hugely sleep deprived in the early days!
Make sure you have a place that is comfortable and relaxing for you to feed. You may have a special chair or some pillows surrounding you to help support you. It’s important to create a space that you can relax and feed bub in.
It is important to have support when you decide to breastfeed. It’s worth chatting to your partner in advance of the bub’s birth to talk about tackling the breastfeeding process together. This is particularly relevant if you have other children who will sometimes need your attention just as bub needs feeding.
Older brothers and sisters, particularly if they are toddlers, may be jealous of the time you spend breastfeeding bub. While you won’t always be able to tend to their needs try to keep them included. You may want to store a couple of their favourite books close at hand to read with them while you are feeding bub. Usually once they have been reassured they will be happier about occupying themselves during breastfeeding time.
If you are feeling unsure about breast feeding make sure to ask for help. Your health nurse or GP will usually be very experienced and be able to provide practical and helpful feedback. There are some fantastic lactation consultants who will be able to support you especially in the early days when it can all seem a bit overwhelming. If you’re worrying about bub’s weight gain or if you are at all concerned about them don’t hesitate to ask for advice.
In the early days bub will feed little and often. As a rule of thumb it will take about 20 minutes for them to empty one breast. You should aim to burp bub after this and offer them the other one. Once bub gets a bit bigger they will become much faster and more efficient at emptying your breasts of milk.
Some mums find their nipples get cracked and sore especially in the early days. To avoid this or to help if it occurs, try popping some lanolin cream on your nipples to reduce cracking and bleeding. It has no additives or preservatives so can be left on while feeding.
This is easier said than done sometimes. However, if you are trying to increase your milk supply or you want to store some breast milk for bub to have later then it is important to persevere. You may find that you aren’t producing a great deal of extra milk initially. This will usually improve. Whether you are using an electric pump, a handheld one or doing it manually you will find that you will become an expert at pumping very quickly.
If you are expressing, then do so at a quieter time of day when your breasts are full. This will usually be in the mornings. If you are expressing because you aren’t at home with bub then try to do it at the same time that you would normally be feeding them. By matching their regular schedule you will help reduce any supply loss.
Aim to store any expressed milk in the fridge as soon as you can after pumping. It can be safely stored in the fridge for up to 36 hours after being expressed. Make sure you discard any remaining milk after bub has been fed the expressed milk. If you are doing lots of expressing then it is worth labeling your bags with the date that the milk was expressed so that you can keep close track of what is in the fridge.
It’s sensible to freeze your breast milk in pretty small quantities like 80mls so as to reduce the chances of wasting it. Remember to only fill the breast milk freezer bags to about three quarters full. They will expand in the freezer. Clearly label the bag with the date that you expressed the breast milk and remember to use the oldest bag first. It can stay frozen in a normal freezer for between 3-6 months and 5-12 months in a deep freezer.
Once your little one starts growing some teeth there is a good chance they will have a go at biting you. When this occurs you need to gently remove your nipple from bub’s mouth and say: “No” gently and firmly. Take a short break from the nursing session and then resume it a couple of minutes later.
Many mums find it useful to keep track of their feeds using an app. That way you can track the time you fed, which breast you fed on and how long the feed lasted as well.
There will be times in the first few months where bub will go through some pretty big growth spurts. These usually occur when bub is about three weeks, six weeks, three months, six months and nine months of age. When these occur, you will find bub demands more frequent feeds as a result and may sometimes be harder to settle than usual. It’s important to be patient, to be kind to yourself and bub. They are undergoing huge leaps in size and development and need nourishment in order for this to occur.