As a mum of four who is currently breastfeeding her 10 week old baby, and having worked with thousands of new parents, I know that breastfeeding can have its challenges, however, I also know how rewarding and straight forward it can be too!
So here are some of my top tips for supporting you and your baby to get off to a good start when it comes to breastfeeding:
1. Be prepared to feed, feed and feed some more! Getting your milk supply established can mean frequent and long nursing sessions – in the early days it may feel that it is all you do! This is completely normal so get comfy on the sofa with your essentials (drink, TV remote, etc) to hand!
2. Make sure dad/your partner knows how to help – research shows that the more supportive of breastfeeding they are, the more likely you are to continue feeding. They can take your baby for a walk or a bath, so you get a break and they have some bonding time. It is also handy if they can make sure you are stocked up on drinks and snacks and have them to hand, as feeding can be hungry and thirsty work.
3. Get your boobs measured after your milk has come in to make sure you are wearing a well fitted bra, one which is the wrong size could cause you discomfort and pain – and you don’t want to make breastfeeding more challenging than it needs to be!
4. It is not unusual to be a little apprehensive about feeding in public when you are getting to grips with it, but most of the time it will just look like you are giving your baby a lovely cuddle! The equality act 2010 made it illegal for anyone to ask a woman to leave a public place if she is breastfeeding, so you do not need to go into the toilet to feed your baby, you can feed them wherever feels comfortable for you and them.
5. If you do feel uncomfortable feeding in a certain situation though, you can consider using something like a breastfeeding scarf, a sling or a muslin cloth which will allow you to feel more covered up.
6. Try and get to know other people who are also breastfeeding – having the support and understanding of others who are also going through the same things as you can be really helpful! Look out for Baby Cafes in your area (see link below) where you can meet others who are breastfeeding and get support.
7. If you are having any difficulties do ask for support from someone who is specially trained in supporting breastfeeding mums – sometimes feeding can be more challenging and it does not mean you are ‘failing’ as a mum if you need a bit of support. Sometimes getting a different idea of how to hold your baby for a feed, or having someone check your baby’s latch can be really helpful (see the links below).
National Breastfeeding Helpline
Helpline – 0300 100 0212
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers
Helpline – 0300 330 5453