This is a blog has been rolling around my head for the last few months, with the recent dispatches program, I thought it was a timely time to write it now.
I need to caveat this with:
- This is purely MY experience, as a mum to 3 breastfed babies, and a teacher who has worked with women postnatally. I am however no breastfeeding “expert”.
- I genuinely DON'T care if you breastfeed or not, I care if you have had the choice taken away, and I will continue to campaign for better support.
- This is not for the fourth trimester - See my top tips below
- I am hugely pro breastfeeding if a mum WANTS to do it. Breast is best for a baby, but NOT at the detriment to mums mental health.
Breastfeeding will not necessarily make your baby more intelligent, healthy, or give you a better bond. But breastmilk IS the ONLY food that is 100% designed for YOUR baby. YOUR body makes it especially for YOUR baby, and it is freaking awesome stuff. I am someone who opts for easy parenting! Breastmilk is less likely to cause you issues with colic & reflux, and when you get it established it is 100% easier than bottle feeding due to a lack of having to make and clean bottles, plus it is dirt cheap!
I truly believe if we supported women who want to establish routines, and who don’t want to be quite so “baby led”, we could impact our breastfeeding rates. I also think we need to help women understand baby’s cues and what baby is communicating to us, to help them to understand feeding cues over other cues.
There are so many reasons why your baby cries, understandably when you breastfeed you automatically presume its hunger, the boob sorts everything out! But it can lead to women not trusting in their bodies, baby seems to be constantly “hungry”, and mum feeling overwhelmed by a baby being permanently attached to them.
So, as I have said, this is purely MY experience, and MY journey.
There is this assumption, or presumption, that when you breastfeed a baby you have to let baby be in control, and you end up with a baby permanently attached to your boobs - “demand” feeding. I didn’t have this luxury, I had recently opened my business, had an 8yr and a 5yr, and really wasn’t able to sit down and breastfeed for hours on end. My 10 day Midwife sign off was carried out at work in a side room because I couldn’t be at home. Now whether I was right to be working so early, is a totally different debate, I was, I needed to be, and I WANTED to breastfeed.
Here are my top tips for breastfeeding and routine:
Use the 4th trimester to learn:
A baby under 3-4m doesn't have the ability to understand consequences of actions, they can’t be spoiled, they don’t understand when they cry a boob comes or they get picked up. They cry as a reflex to a physical need, it could be hunger, pain, over stimulation its your job to work out what your baby is communicating to you, and the 4th trimester is the time to learn.
Those first 3-5m are your time to learn, you need to learn who your little human is, and he needs to learn how to integrate his body in the outside world. Don’t try pushing anything strict or trying too hard in this time, it is fruitless and will make your miserable. You can’t develop bad habits (or if you do they are quickly broken).
Your milk supply is also establishing during this time. Your body will make the perfect amount of milk for your baby, so they will feed little and often. As the fourth trimester goes on you will begin to understand how baby's feeding cues differs from his tired or over stimulation cues. Your boobs are like factories not storehouses, we need to establish a happy balance where your body makes just the right amount of milk for your baby.
See a Lactation Consultant and get GOOD support:
See a properly qualified, and trained LACTATION consultant. Get baby's latch checked and if they have Tongue Tie get it cut.
You need to know you are starting off from a baseline where your baby is feeding efficiently. It DOES hurt when you first breastfeed, but knowing what is normal and what isn’t is important as pain is subjective, so get the latch checked!
The chance of developing PND increases by 50% for those mums who want to breastfeed and can’t, in most cases women who stop feeding do so through to lack of support.