How can you best prepare for a successful breastfeeding journey?

By Aliza Carr  29 June 2021 

Today on the blog, we have midwife Aliza Carr from Bumpnbub talking about breastfeeding and the best ways a family can prepare. 

Breastfeeding can be a daunting task, especially for a first-time mum.

SUPPORT:

One of the best ways you can prepare for a successful breastfeeding (BF) journey is to have the support of your partner, and those closest to you.

If your partner is aware that you want to BF and understands the importance of BF and the process, he/she can support and encourage you, especially on those tough days. Often partners can feel helpless in the early days when you are feeding bub a lot, so I encourage you and your partner to read ‘The Breastfeeding Partnership’ on the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) website, which outlines how your partner can best support you while BF and feel included in the partnership of parenthood. 

PREPARATION is the key; what do you and your partner need to know?

As for most big events in life, it is easier to prepare when you have prior knowledge and understanding. The same goes for pregnancy, childbirth, and BF; antenatal education is the key.

ABA encourages Mama’s-to-be to learn about BF before your baby arrives, making you knowledgeable and empowered for when bub is born and more likely to identify any problems that may arise. Your midwife or health care provider should discuss the importance of BF with you and your partner in the antenatal period, and assist you to prepare for how you want to feed your baby.

Antenatal classes are also a great way to learn valuable information, and the ABA also runs a ‘Breastfeeding Education Class’ and support groups for pregnant and BF Mamas. Being aware of where to find reliable resources is also important, the first place I suggest is the resources page in your pregnancy health record, or through your hospital’s website. 

A couple of my key resources;

What is normal in the early days? 

  • Colostrum is present in your breast from mid to late pregnancy and following birth for around 3 days. Your body producing more colostrum is due to hormonal changes and your baby suckling at the breast, therefore frequent feeds lead to a quicker increase in milk supply and a fed happy bub ?.
  • Milk ‘comes in’ and fills your breasts around day 3 or 4 (70-90 hours) after your baby is born, and your breasts will become very firm. You may then notice a change in your baby’s suck and swallow pattern while BF, baby will take deeper slower sucks and you may also hear gulping and swallowing of your milk! ABA also has information on what to do if you have too much milk or engorgement. Most hospitals and birth centres will also have a lactation consultant, take advantage of this if you need to mama. 
  • Maintaining breastmilk supply is reliant on frequent suckling, removal of your breastmilk, and regulation of hormones (prolactin and oxytocin). Supply = demand: the amount of breastmilk that you produce is determined by how often your baby feeds, known as the supply and demand theory. The more milk that is removed from your breast, the more that is produced, therefore you make exactly the right amount of milk for your baby and their appetite/needs. 
    Remember Mama, BF will make you very thirsty and also requires you to intake more calories into your daily nutrition, so always have a water bottle and snacks next to you when BF.

CONCERNS about breastfeeding or your baby’s latch? 

Know you can always ask for assistance from a midwife or lactation consultant (LC). The midwife that is looking after you and your baby on the postnatal ward will be able to check bub’s latch and provide practical assistance with your BF journey- it will get easier! If you need further assistance, most hospitals have a BF class you can attend or one on one consultations with an LC.

  • When should you see an LC? If you need ANY help or support with BF; increase your supply, manage pain difficulties when feeding, assess suck, swallow, breathing, and tongue function of baby and even antenatal consults for a BF plan.
  • Where else can you access LC’s? You can self-refer to any LC’s in the community; private LC’s, LC’s at your local child health clinic, as an outpatient at most maternity hospitals, recommendations through your GP or other Mamas, and websites such as www.LCANZ.org

How do you know if bub is getting enough breastmilk?

  • Frequent feeds- 8-12 times (or more) every 24hrs, and I also recommend Mama’s feeling their breasts before and after a feed to help determine how well bub has fed. 
  • Wet & dirty nappies – Wet nappies should be 6-8/day after day 7. Before your milk supply is established, your baby should increase 1 wet nappy for every day of life (day 1= 1 wet nappy, day 2=2 wet nappies etc.). A great sign your milk is coming in and baby is getting enough is when their stool starts to change colour from a black tar-looking meconium stool on day 1, to green/brown on day 3, then mustard yellow by day 7 and onwards.
  • Weight gain- all babies will lose up to 10% of birth weight around day 3 of life, then your milk will ‘come in’ and your baby will begin to gain weight. Bub should return to birth weight around day 14 of life and then gain on average 150grams+/week from then on. Frequent weight checks with your midwife, GP or child health nurse is recommended up to 6 weeks of age, or as directed by your health care professional.
  • Baby’s behaviour is also a good sign of if bub is full and getting enough milk. A settled, relaxed and happy baby is generally a fed baby. Watch your baby, learn their hunger signs and trust your Mama instincts.

My top 10 tips for successful BF

  1. Skin to skin contact immediately after birth and as much as possible with your baby 
  2. Leave bub on your chest until after the first BF, ideally within one hour of life
  3. Give bub breastmilk only, unless medically indicated (and if you choose)
  4. Encourage BF on demand 
  5. Initiate BF when bub is showing early feeding cues and is calm
  6. Rooming-in with your baby (sleeping in the same room)
  7. No dummies or teats until BF is established
  8. SUPPORT- partner, family, BF support groups, midwife & lactation consultant 
  9. ‘Baby-led attachment’ or the ‘Thompson method’ are great tools to research
  10. A hospital that implements the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), and supports the World Health Organisation ‘10 steps to successful breastfeeding’. The BFHI is a global launch effort to protect, promote and support BF.
  11. Take Qiara probiotics which helps to maintain a healthy microflora, relieve breast pain and improves general digestive and gut health issues for mama and bub. 

I hope these tips help you, mama. Remember you are never alone on your breastfeeding or motherhood journey. 

 

Aliza CarrWritten by midwife and perinatal mental health specialist, Aliza Carr, from Bumpnbub

Photo above from @gina.urlich
 


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