I remember being overwhelmed, stressed out, and desperate to breastfeed my first baby so maybe some of these tips can help you if that's where you are today in your journey. You got this!
1. Your milk doesn't come in on day 1, and most babies lose 7% of their birth weight in the first week
I wish I knew this earlier because it would have helped me cope when I had my first baby. You honestly don't need to stress if you haven't got much milk on the first day or two.
This is also why the second night is the pits. Baby is going to nurse and cry and nurse and cry and it's all normal because this process is how your milk comes in. Then you wake up with over full melons on day three.
To get through it, you need:
- supportive people around you.
2. Babies do not drink every 2-3 hours, they are not robots
Again this would have helped me soooo much to know this earlier. I was cruisey as when I had my son and breastfeeding was enjoyable, but when I had my daughter I was trying to wake her to eat if it had been 2 or 3 hours, and I was panicked when she seemed to eat a lot more than this during the day.
The reality is, just like people, babies are all different, and different things impact them. Also, nursing is more than feeding. It's also comfort, pain relief, and being close to mum. So frequent feeding is totally to be expected.
Also, when I think about it, sometimes I will have 3 hot drinks within the hour. Why wouldn't my baby do the same?
3. The best way to tell they are getting enough milk - you are changing a lot of nappies!
Because you can't count the millilitres when you breastfeed, you need other cues. Plenty of wet nappies and clear wee is the best way to know.
4. Inverted nipples are a thing - but they can be corrected
Some women have issues breastfeeding due to flat or inverted nipples. I was one (TMI but meh).
There are tools you can use to help draw the nipple out though, or over time they come out if you keep breastfeeding. Like the Unimom Nipple Formers.
5. From 6 months onwards, the amount you pump doesn't increase much - it may even decrease - instead the composition of your milk changes and your baby starts eating solids as well
I found this super interesting when I was pumping for work for my second daughter and also for my son.
I do think we can start to focus on our milk production a little too much when pumping for daycare, especially with hungry babies. More so if there is a daycare centre worker or a nan who is asking you to make more for your child.
Water and foods should start to supplement your milk as your baby gets older, so don't sweat if you aren't making more for your 9 month old. Instead, work with those who help you care for your child to support them in introducing foods while you keep breastfeeding as long as makes sense for your family and you.
On top of this, there's this amazing thing called "reverse cycling" you can start doing, where your child gets a "day's worth" of milk during the night while you're with them, and doesn't eat much at all during the day when they are away from you.
6. Mum's milk adjusts for the baby. A tandem feeder can make different milk for a newborn and a toddler.
This one just has me in awe. How amazing are our bodies? I have seen photos of this on Facebook and Insta where mums who tandem feed pump two bottles (one per side) and the colour and amount is totally different. It blows me away every time.
7. Breastmilk has antibodies and can fight bacteria
Speaking of photos on Facebook - I saw one where this scientist had placed drops of breastmilk into different cultures of bacteria in petri dishes. Small zones of protective areas developed around the milk droplets as the antibodies came into play.
Incredible. If you breastfeed for one day, or for one year, or offer donated milk, it's just "wow" how much you're giving to your child.
8. How long and whether you breastfeed is a choice
When I say this obviously I am excluding those who have had difficulties achieving breastfeeding goals and that is not my intent (I am so sorry).
However, I feel like it's something I learnt most with my third child. My first two babies, I felt this immense pressure to breastfeed them, and almost like I would be "less than" if I didn't breastfeed (which was very problematic when things did not go to plan with my eldest).
With my third I felt so much more confident about my choices, and that this was my body, and I could stop if it became hard, or inconvenient, or even if I just didn't want to breastfeed. That's an okay choice, and hugely personal.
I will always respect all decisions around breastfeeding. I will defend any one who choses not to breastfeed, as well as any one who choses to breastfeed. "Your Zoo, Your Monkies!" And equally: YOUR BODY.
9. Laid back breastfeeding = totally worth a google
I learnt about "biological nursing" pretty late. It's a form of breastfeeding which works with the biomechanics of your child instead of against them.
Basically the key is for you as the mum to get into a super duper comfy position, and then allow your child to "work" their way onto your breast. This involves them smashing their head around, using their little fists to pummel their way to the breast, and so on.
All the things that in the "traditional" holds cause them to not latch on, or cause you pain, when you are laid back, actually help a baby get onto the nipple and into a comfortable breastfeeding position which is quite natural.
It's actually really cool.
10. If you don't take photos of your baby at the breast you will regret it later
*Cries quietly.* I am lucky to have some photos of me and my son, but not many with my girls - if any - probably due to feeling shy. Don't make the same mistake.
The days are long, but the years are flying.