Five things I learnt as a new mum breastfeeding
This blog is written by midwife Aliza from Bumpnbub.
Despite being a midwife and knowing breastfeeding would present challenges, I had no idea it would be so painful, messy, and challenging. However, I found comfort in knowing that breastfeeding calmed my baby, helped put her to sleep, and, most importantly, provided her with the essential nutrients that only breastmilk can provide.
1. Breastfeeding is physically and mentally challenging
Although biologically normal, it doesn’t always come naturally. Understanding what a correct latch involves and what it looks like is time-consuming and uncomfortable. Between breastfeeding, nappy changes, and trying to take a shower myself, I always felt it was time to breastfeed again - it was hard.
As time passed, breastfeeding got easier; but those first 4-6 weeks were tough.
2. Nipple pain is real
One of the most common reasons mothers stops breastfeeding is persistent nipple pain. In addition, over 50% of mothers who experience nipple pain in the first month postpartum don’t seek help. New mums need to inspect their nipples for damage post-feed and seek professional help if they are experiencing nipple pain.
The Lovekins Nipple Balm was a lifesaver; formulated with a blend of Kakadu Plum, Jojoba and Shea Butter; it helped to soothe and hydrate the irritated skin around my nipple area, which helped alleviate pain and discomfort.
Side note: you can also use it as a lip balm!
3. Not all breastfeeding positions work
Ask your midwife to show you different breastfeeding positions, work on one or two until it feels right, and then explore other places if need be.
The most common positions are a laid-back reclined position, cradle or cross-cradle hold, football hold and side-lying. Gather everything you might need while breastfeeding (such as a drink bottle and snacks), then find a comfortable position since you will often be breastfeeding for a while.
4. It is very time-consuming
It can sometimes feel like all you do is breastfeed despite being a wonderful experience.
The first month postpartum is about building breastmilk supply, and supply equals demand. Thus, the more I breastfed my baby in the early days, the more milk my body made. I had to watch my baby’s cues and breastfeed her whenever she was hungry, for as long as she wanted to ensure my supply was plentiful. This way, her needs regulated my breastmilk supply.
So, whilst time-consuming, reminding myself that my breastmilk is crucial in supporting her growth and development helped the time pass tremendously.
5. How amazing my body is!
I have more appreciation for my body after giving birth than ever. Growing a baby is one thing, and since having my little girl, my body has wholly regulated her needs.
My body supplies all the nutrients, fats, protein, vitamins and minerals my baby needs for at least these first six months of life. The breastmilk I produce protects my baby against infections and helps her digestive system.
Finally, the composition of breastmilk changes when she is sick, as more antibodies and infection-fighting cells are present to support their immune system.
How amazing is that!