Breastfeeding hints and tips
We’ve all heard that breastfeeding gives a baby the best possible start.
Throughout pregnancy and antenatal, GPs, midwives, NCT classes and general society will tell a mum-to-be that breast milk is the best way to feed a newborn baby.
As well as helping with an extra bond between mum and baby, breast milk is perfectly balanced in protein, carbohydrates, fat, and calcium. It’s the ideal diet that a baby needs to grow and put on weight until they are old enough to start experimenting with solid foods.
Every parent is entitled to make their own mind up about how they feed their baby and there are a number of considerations as to why people start, continue or stop breastfeeding.
So, why do mums breastfeed?
Breast milk is considered to be the most nutritious feeding option, due to the milk being rich in antibodies that can help little ones fend off infections and bugs. Breast milk is easily digestible and can help to reduce colic if a baby is suffering.
There is also research by The Lullaby Trust that suggests that breastfeeding can help to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
The benefits are evidently fantastic for babies, but what about for mum, are there any benefits for her? Well, the answer is yes. Breastfeeding is thought to help to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, assist with weight loss, and delay the return of periods for a little longer. It can also mean one less thing to do, as milk is ‘on tap’, meaning no washing or sterilising of bottles.
It is not always that easy though.
Why doesn’t breastfeeding always work?
There are a number of reasons why breastfeeding feels harder for some families.
Issues brought about by problems with milk supply, poor latch, mastitis (where the woman’s breast tissue becomes painful and inflamed), anxiety, or feelings of being self-conscious about feeding in public can affect a mum’s experience of breastfeeding.
From a more practical point of view, some mums choose to bottle-feed so that they can share the feeding with a partner, have time to recover from birth, or to simply allow them to take a break for work or self-care.
There should be no judgement or feelings of ‘failure’ associated with how a baby is fed – a baby’s nutrition is the most important thing.
Tips for breastfeeding mums
If you’re reading this and trying to persevere, but struggling with breastfeeding, here are our top tips.
• Try to remain calm. Babies pick up on anxiety and if they are already stressed, it won’t help the situation.
• Use nipple shields. Sore, cracked nipples can be very painful, so use the shields to continue feeding whilst any soreness heals.
• Apply lanolin cream. This is liquid gold for sore nipples – it is baby safe and well worth the money to help with healing.
• Invest in a good nursing bra. Find one that provides the right support, is comfortable, and easily opens for nursing.
• Wear nipple pads. These can absorb leakage but they also add a layer between sore nipples and clothing.
• Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water – hydration is really important to milk production and to prevent headaches.
• Massage lumps. Hand-expressing a little whilst in a hot shower can reduce some of the fullness and those lumps to prevent the build up of blocked ducts.
Breastfeeding support is out there.
For one-to-one help, reach out to health visitors and midwives. For more general queries, look in your red books for details of local helplines, clinics, drop-ins, cafes and centres.
For more information on breastfeeding help and support from the NHS website.