This blog is for all you beautiful mothers and mothers-to-be and touches on the realities of breastfeeding and gives some practical lactation tips.
The Wonder of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding, while a natural process, isn’t always straightforward and for many women, it’s not easy. While the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, this may not be achievable for everyone. Remember, each breastfeeding journey is personal and unique. Don’t let societal pressures define yours.
The Awkward Truths
Let’s talk about some truths that often get swept under the rug. Nipple discomfort! Talk to anyone who has been-there-done-that in the breastfeeding department and you’ll likely find this to be one of the first not-so-magical things they remember about the experience.
Cracked nipples are an unwelcome surprise for many new moms. In fact, a study published in the “Journal of Perinatal Education” found that nipple pain is one of the most common reasons mothers stop breastfeeding prematurely. The pain is real!
What can you do about it? It’s essential to ensure your baby is latching correctly – most discomfort stems from poor latching. So be sure to tap into the expertise of the maternity ward nurses while in hospital, they’re pros at helping new moms with this. Getting this right early on can make a world of difference. CompCare also offers a lactation consultation with a midwife as part of the maternity benefits on most of our plans.
Lanolin creams can ease the pain and you can also try nipple shield products as a short-term solution. Chat to your healthcare provider for advice about different approaches to find what works best for you.
The Stigma Around Not Breastfeeding
Despite all efforts, some moms might not be able to breastfeed, and that’s okay. You are no less of a mother if you’re unable to breastfeed. There are many reasons why breastfeeding might not work for some – from medical conditions to personal choices. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of societal stigma attached to this.
As long as your baby is getting love, care and good nourishment, that’s what truly matters. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Infant formulas today are well-formulated to provide necessary nutrients to your baby.
Supply and Demand
Not having enough milk is a common worry for many moms. Our bodies typically follow the ‘demand and supply’ rule. The more your baby nurses, the more milk your body produces. But sometimes, that’s not enough for hungry little humans.
Here are a few tips to help boost milk production:
Your body needs water to produce milk. Make sure to drink plenty throughout the day.
Easier said than done with a new born, but, your body needs to recover and rest to function efficiently. So prioritise sleeping when you can. Try napping when your baby is napping. Make the most of those days where you find yourself in your PJs all day!
- Oats – Oats is a source of iron, which is known to help boost milk supply. An oatmeal breakfast can be a great start to your day.
- Fenugreek – This has been used for centuries to increase milk production and can be used in your cooking or consumed as a tea or supplement.
- Brewer’s Yeast – Brewer’s yeast is packed with B vitamins, iron, protein, and minerals which can help increase energy levels and milk supply. Here’s a great lactation cookie recipe that’s quick, vegan and gluten free but most of all, delicious!
- Spinach and Leafy Greens – These are high in calcium and iron, both champions for milk production.
- Garlic – It not only enhances the flavour of your dishes but might also give your milk production a boost. It may change in taste of the milk and some babies may not be garlic fans.
- Almonds – High in protein and calcium. Many breastfeeding moms choose almonds as a healthy on the go snack.
- Fennel and Fennel Seeds – You can add it to your dishes, or drink it as a tea.
- Whole Grains – Foods like brown rice have been shown to stimulate milk production.
Creating a Calm Environment for Successful Breastfeeding
Tension can throw a spanner in the smooth process of milk production. Here are a few to help encourage a smoother experience:
- Unwind in the “Oxytocin Oasis” – Who knew a simple warm shower could turn into a private, relaxing retreat, stimulating the feel-good hormone oxytocin to ease your milk flow.
- The “Towel Technique” – No time for a shower? No worries! The warm towel wrap comes to your rescue. Just a few minutes with this gentle warmth, and your breasts are primed for nursing.
- Massage Magic – Stimulate milk flow with a gentle massage, creating a smoother path from the lobes to the nipple – your very own secret handshake with your body!
- Find your Zen – Don’t under estimate the power of a calm mindset when breastfeeding. Find your zen soothing music, a leisurely stroll outdoors, or a rejuvenating nap before nursing. These tranquillity tickets can give your breastfeeding session an edge.
Shelf Life of your Liquid Gold
Here’s a quick guide on how long your hard-earned breast milk will last when stored in different ways:
- Room-Temperature – Freshly expressed breast milk can hang out at room temperature for about four hours. Fresher is always better though.
- Fridge – Your milk can comfortably chill in the refrigerator for about four days. Mark your storage bags with dates to keep track!
- Freezer – If you’re stocking up, the freezer is your breast milk’s best friend! Generally, it can holiday in there for about six months. Pushing it to a year-long retreat is also acceptable, though it’s best used within six months.
Going Back to Work? Be a Breastfeeding Boss
- Start Early, Plan Ahead – Start expressing and storing breast milk a few weeks before you return to work. This way, your baby (and you!) can get used to the idea of bottle-feeding, and you can create a stash of milk.
- Talk to Your Employer – Discuss your breastfeeding needs with your employer. Ideally you’ll need regular breaks and a private, clean space where you can express milk.
- Invest in a Good Breast Pump – A high-quality, efficient breast pump is essential. If possible, a double electric breast pump will make pumping quicker and more efficient.
- Maintain Your Supply – Try to pump at the times your baby would usually feed to maintain your milk supply.
- Proper Storage – Make sure you have access to a fridge where you can store expressed milk safely during the day. If this isn’t possible, consider an insulated cooler bag.
- Comfort is Key – Carry nipple cream and breast pads to work to handle any discomfort or leakage.
- Be Patient with Yourself – Going back to work is a big change for you and your baby. There may be bumps along the way and you may feel overwhelmed, and that’s okay. With some planning and support, it’s entirely possible to continue providing your baby with the benefits of breast milk.
In the End…
Breastfeeding is a journey filled with unique challenges and beautiful moments. Every mom’s experience is her own, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach. So, whether you breastfeed your little one for two years, two months, or not at all, remember – you’re doing your best, and that’s what counts.
Here’s to empowering each other and celebrating motherhood!