Our Lactation Consultant, Sarah shares some tips on how to prepare to breastfeed.
So many people say they were well prepared for labour and birth (as much as you can be…) but underestimated the journey after bubs arrival. Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things on earth but not easy for most mums and babies when they start. It is a learnt skill that requires practice, patience, some knowledge, and, most importantly, confidence.
I hope these tips help!
- Be prepared! While you are pregnant, you have more time and a less foggy brain than after bub is born. Babies want to drink within an hour or so after being born, so there is not much time to learn then. I suggest that you educate yourself by attending a breastfeeding workshop with a Lactation Consultant. The main goals of antenatal education are to:
- Get excited and confident
- Have realistic expectations of breastfeeding and baby behaviour
- Gain an understanding of what’s expected and some basic troubleshooting
At MAMA, we offer individual sessions (3x 45 min or one session of 2 hours) and group classes. You can check them out here.
2. Antenatal Hand Expressing. A great skill to learn while you are still pregnant, to get used to working with your breasts, and if you can harvest some of the incredible colostrum, you have a kind of packed lunchbox just in case. I would highly recommend practising this with your Midwife or Lactation Consultant before the baby is born, after 36-37 weeks pregnancy if you have an all-clear from your Health Care Provider. You can also purchase colostrum kits, to help with storage and collection.
3. To buy or not to buy. I wouldn’t invest too much in products before the baby is born, to be honest, because you never know what you’ll need. It depends on your unique situation. Sometimes you don’t need much at all, and sometimes some products can be a game-changer. You might need a hospital grade pump and bottles, and maybe a portable breast pump when your milk supply is established, and you want to take it to work / on holiday /etc. A Haakaa pump can be useful to collect your letdown, and Silverettes (silver cups) can be a lifesaver for damaged nipples. I like the QIARA probiotics, especially helpful when you had antibiotics during labour or in the postpartum period or if you have blocked ducts or mastitis. Our fav Lactation Cookies are the ones from Franjos. Know where you can buy things (even save it on your wish list, so you only have to click ‘order’ should you need the products). MAMA sells all of those products in our retail store. We have the Hospital Grade Spectra breast pump (which you can buy or rent) and the Portable always on stock.
4. Meal prep! In the lead up to your due date, and whilst you are on maternity leave, I always suggest you cook double portions of easy to freeze meals, so when you have a busy day when the baby is born, you have a nice and healthy dinner on the table in no time. Also, make and freeze some bliss balls (the ideal night snack when you are breastfeeding). You burn more than 600 extra calories a day when you are breastfeeding; did you know that? So even if you eat a bit extra, you are likely to lose your pregnancy kilos quickly.
5. Practice different breastfeeding positions. When the baby is born, practice with the positions: Laidback / semi-reclined and side laying (sooo comfortable!).
Some tips for laid back feeding:
– Recline into a comfortable position; you don’t need to be lying down flat
– Relax your shoulders
– It can be good to have a pillow available to support your arms/elbows
– Place baby on your chest
– You can use your arms to keep baby centred and heading towards the nipple and stop rolling off you
– You can use your Hand to shape your breast if needed to make the areola easily accessible for your baby Book in a consultation to learn more about this or ask your midwife
6. Check the latch. I love following principles (the acronym is CHIN)
Close: keep baby close to your body, chest to chest/tummy to tummy, ‘wear your baby as a belt around your body, try to avoid hands in between you and your baby (hands on each side of your breast is usually easiest).
Head free: support baby’s body, neck, shoulder blades, and avoid holding baby’s back of his head so they can freely move their head backwards and follow their reflexes to take a deep latch.
Inline: Check if baby is lying in a straight line without their neck being twisted (drink something with your neck twisted to notice the difference).
Nose to nipple: It’s easier to feed when their chin is a bit upwards, so the nipple points to their nose. Imagine taking a big bite from an apple with your chin on your chest compared to your chin up.
7. Resources. Have some resources up your sleeve should you need them. The Australian Breastfeeding Association is a great resource, check out their website and you can call them 24/7: 1800 686 268. Really! Day and night!
Other great websites to check out are:
Other great websites to check out are:
8. If you have any pain, discomfort or worries when you are feeding – ask for help! Your midwife/lactation consultant (etc.) can make such a difference by observing a feed, check your breasts and nipples, babies mouth, etc.! You don’t have to do it by yourself; we are here to help!! MAMA has a team of wonderful Lactation Consultants you can see via zoom, in clinic or in your own home! You can find out more information here.