Next week, not only do I celebrate 6 whole months of being Mama to Noah – but also 6 whole months of breastfeeding – give or take a couple of days in the beginning.
I’m always a little bit hesitant to write about breastfeeding because mothers who don’t or didn’t breastfeed often seem to take positive breastfeeding blogs as a personal attack on formula feeding.
But I think anyone that knows me and this blog knows that I would never and have never taken that stance – in fact Noah started his life on formula when I couldn’t feed him – so I am eternally grateful that it exists!
But – I also get a lot of people contacting me for advice when I write about breastfeeding – so I thought I’d write down MY top 10 tips.
Obviously, I am not an expert or a health professional – but these are the things that helped ME and US – on what started out as a very rocky feeding journey. I do hope that they may be of use to you, or someone you know;
1) Get comfortable – If you are struggling with feeding – DON’T try and balance yourself on an uncomfortable chair! Sandwich yourself into the sofa with as many cushions / pillows / props that you need! To this day I still struggle to feed Noah unless he’s balanced on a pillow. In the early days I also found feeding in bed so tricky, as my stitches and tummy hurt, so I did all the night feeds back on the sofa. You’ll soon find a position that’s best for you.
2) Talking of positions – Try them all – The traditional ‘cradle hold’ may not be the easiest way to get your baby to latch well. At times I fed Noah in the rugby hold (under the arm with their legs around your back). When I was struggling with latch and his reflux I also fed him ‘uphill’ – so he was face on and literally dangling between my legs! This one really helped when he was ‘clicking’ and not attaching on one side properly.
3) Eat and drink LOADS – To this day I need to eat and drink loads for breastfeeding, even more than I did in pregnancy. You need to remember that your body is trying to feed another human being – so neglecting yourself is just not good. In the very early days it’s a struggle to find time to make food – so get others to help out. Your parents / partner / friends. Even if it’s just a sandwich and a banana, it all helps and you’ll have more energy. Drink a tonne of water too. I still get absurdly thirsty every time I feed. I’m sure feeding is a great excuse for cake and chocolate too! (ok, probably not but at 6 months I’m still using it!)
4) Oats, oats, oats – On the subject of food – oats are AMAZING for breastmilk and your supply. I felt like I struggled with low supply at times. I then read that oats were the best food for milk production and I have to agree. Most days I have a big bowl of porridge for breakfast, and I’ve really noticed it makes a huge difference. Flapjacks are good too.
5) The ‘Flipple’ technique – Ok this is a weird one, but it works. If you’re struggling with latching and your baby just isn’t opening their mouth wide enough – try the flipple technique. I really can’t explain it in words – so here is a video – it’s brilliant!
6) Support – Breastfeeding can be HARD. Bloody, bloody hard. Support is key. Explain to people around you how important it is that you feel supported in your feeding journey. My Mum was very helpful as she had fed five babies and was also a trained NCT counsellor. But she wasn’t there in the middle of the night when I was crying with bleeding nipples. I couldn’t have got through it without Jay, my partner. I know at times he felt helpless and wanted to give formula (to ease my pain and anxiety). But I explained that rather than going straight for the formula I just needed lots of support, encouragement and CUDDLES when it was tough. It definitely helps to have people on your side. Local breastfeeding cafés, NCT support groups and lactation consultants are also good if you’re struggling. I paid a LC to come to our home one day – and it was the best £60 I’ve ever spent.
7) Lanolin cream – Whack it on those nipples – you can’t have enough of the stuff!
8) A breastfeeding cover – Now I am ALL FOR getting those boobies out wherever, whenever. If someone has an issue – it’s their problem, not yours. And you can legally feed anywhere. BUT not everyone feels comfy showing boobs in public – I don’t really. Especially as Noah was a bad latcher, and now is just a nosey parker! Rather than grappling with a muslin that always falls off – I have found my cover invaluable. Noah always falls asleep under it too which means I have a few minutes to enjoy a hot coffee! Mine was from Mothercare but there are a load on Amazon too.
9) Nipple shields – Shields are controversial because they can reduce milk transfer and cause other issues, but for me personally – I wouldn’t have been able to feed at all without them. Noah simply didn’t want to latch. We had to learn together – slowly. I managed to wean him off them at 8 weeks and all is good. I used the Medela ones and found them to be brilliant.
10) Confidence – I truly believe that a big part of cracking breastfeeding is confidence and belief in yourself. It can be the hardest thing in the world. I lacked confidence and genuinely felt rubbish and like a failure when it didn’t work. But as my confidence grew, so did our breastfeeding journey. It isn’t for everyone, I totally get that. But if YOU want to breastfeed – just know that you probably can do it – with the right help, advice and support!
Here are some links to some great resources and help: