I want to start this blog by saying that I believe “fed is best”. Whether you breastfeed, use formula or a mix, I support whichever way you feed your baby. This is my own personal experience with breastfeeding with tips that I wish I knew before having my baby.
I absolutely love being a mum! But adjusting to mum life isn’t easy. One of the biggest challenges I faced was breastfeeding.
I remember when my baby boy was only a few weeks old, someone close to me said, “oh isn’t breastfeeding the best thing in the world. It’s so easy.”
I almost burst into tears. She had no idea how tough I was finding breastfeeding. I felt like I was the only mum out there who was silently struggling. What seemed so easy and “natural”, actually wasn’t.
Parents always talk about the sleepless nights that you go through with a new baby. But no one had ever told me that breastfeeding was a learned skill. Latching, positioning, understanding your baby’s hunger and fullness cues, keeping your baby awake to feed; these are all skills that require practice for mum and bub. And not to mention that you are literally feeding around the clock for hours at a time. And it can be incredibly messy – hello leaking boobs and baby vomit!
Fast forward 10 months and I can tell you now, things are very different. Bub and I have bonded over the months and months of feeding and I now find breastfeeding easy, convenient and enjoyable. We both love it.
But what I want you to know is that it took patience and practice. I wish someone had given me these 6 breastfeeding tips that I’m about to share with you because they really helped me on my breastfeeding journey. And if you’re a new mum and you’re finding breastfeeding difficult, please know that you are not alone and help is available.
My 6 Breastfeeding Tips
Have Easy Nutritious Snacks On Hand – Breastmilk is a complete food containing all your baby’s nutritional needs for the first 6 months of life. It satisfies both hunger and thirst of your baby and increases your baby’s resistance to infection and disease. When you are breastfeeding, your body requires extra energy and nutrients including protein, calcium, iron, folate and vitamin A and C. So it is important that the food you eat provides enough fuel and nutrients for both you and your baby.
As a new mum though, I know it’s not just as easy as “eat a healthy balanced diet”. You’re busy, tired, haven’t showered for days and the last thing you want to do is spend all day in the kitchen preparing and cooking healthy food.
This is where having quick and easy snacks on hand ready to eat is helpful. Here are a few quick and easy snacks you can try that require little to no preparation and many you can eat while breastfeeding:
- Smoothies – smoothies are an excellent option because you can add so many different nutrient rich foods to them like seeds, nuts, veggies and fruit. They are quick and easy to make and you can drink them while breastfeeding. I have 5 nutritious smoothies in my recipe ebook here that are packed with nutrients that are essential during pregnancy. Click here to get them.
- Fresh fruit & dried fruit
- Nuts & seeds
- Homemade Banana Bread – get my Sticky Date Peanut Butter Banana Bread recipe here
- Small tin of tuna / salmon
- Small tin of beans
- Energy Balls – click here for my Apricot Energy Balls recipe and here for my Lamington Bliss Ball
Make A “Breastfeeding Supplies Basket” – In the early weeks, most babies need at least 8–10 feeds in 24 hours. These feeds can last anywhere from 1-2 hours plus, and once you start feeding, you don’t want to stop. I found it convenient to have a basket next to me full of all the supplies I need during a feed. In the basket I keep a water bottle, some healthy snacks, a burp cloth (or 10 because breastfeeding can get very messy), a muslin wrap and nipple balm. It’s important to look after your skin when breastfeeding. Lovekins have a beautiful Nipple Balm as part of their pregnancy range that is safe and toxic free for babies made with a natural and plant based formula. It is made with Kakadu Plum, Jojoba and Shea Butter to soothe tender and sore skin and provide comfort after each feed.
I also personally liked to keep my phone handy when feeding too. I love bonding with my baby while breastfeeding, but during the newborn stage and witching hour, his feeds would take more than 2 hours, so I also used this time to listen to a podcast and music or watch some Netflix and chill.
Trial Different Feeding Positions and Techniques – There’s no right or wrong way to hold and feed your baby. There are many different positions you can use and knowing a few different breastfeeding positions and techniques can be very helpful as each mum and baby will have their own preferred position to feed in. Some feeding positions include cradle hold, laid-back breastfeeding, rugby ball hold, upright breastfeeding, dangle feeding, side-lying just to name a few. Initially I was trying the cradle hold position, however I wasn’t working well for us. So I trialled and practiced a number of positions with bub until we found laid back breastfeeding with baby led attachment and it transformed our feeding. It was the best position for bub’s attachment, he was stable and supported and I was comfortable and able to relax. Don’t be afraid to trial different positions and techniques and find the best one for you and bub.
Learn Your Baby’s Hunger and Fullness Cues – When you first start your breastfeeding journey, it can help to look out for your signs that your baby is hungry.
Early hunger signs include your baby smacking or licking lips, opening and closing their mouth, or sucking on their lips, tongue, hands, fingers or fists.
Active hunger signs include baby fussing or breathing fast, rooting around on the chest of whoever is carrying them (which can be hilarious when it’s your partner); trying to position for breastfeeding by lying back, fidgeting or squirming a lot or clenching fingers or making a tight fist over the chest or tummy. Late hunger signs include your baby crying and/or moving their head frantically from side to side.
When it comes to fullness signals, some babies, including mine, detach abruptly from the breast and quit feeding suddenly when full. For other babies, it can be a gradual process as their sucking becomes slower and slower until they are full.
Keep Hydrated – Breastmilk is approximately 90% water, so it’s important that breastfeeding mumma's drink enough water to stay hydrated. Some mums find it handy to leave cups of water around the house or have your drink bottle at your feeding chair. The most useful strategy I found to keep hydrated was drinking ~500ml to 1 litre of water when I woke up in the morning followed by a few more large glasses of water every time I went into the kitchen.
Look After Yourself – Motherhood is a beautiful time but it is also a huge life shift and it’s important to look after yourself and your mental health. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to take some time out for yourself each day. Step out into the sunshine, go for a walk, grab a coffee with a friend, sit down and eat a meal by yourself, have a shower or spend a few minutes engaging in some self care by nourishing your body and skin with Lovekins Pregnancy range, that is also perfect for the postpartum. Just a few simple acts of self-care each day like this can really help you on your postpartum journey.
And remember to ask for help. I’ve personally never really been one to ask for help because I don’t want to burden others. But having a baby has made me realise that you need to ask for help and take it when it’s offered. If someone offers to cook you a meal or mind bubba, accept their generosity and say yes. Do it for yourself and for your baby. And if you are struggling, reach out to a family member, friend or a health professional.
Also, know that it’s ok to say no – within the first month of having your baby, everyone wants to visit. And while this is lovely, remember you don’t have to say yes to everyone. Having people constantly drop in to meet bub can become overwhelming and tiring, particularly when you are trying to get the hang of feeding and putting bubba to sleep. So remember it’s ok to say no too.
Beautiful advice from dietician and mother, Rebecca Gawthorne from @nourish_naturally