Breastfeeding is a wonderful, magical thing. Feeding your baby with liquid gold that you made yourself? Well, that all sounds too good to be true.
The truth of the matter is, breastfeeding can be really hard work too. Not Mummy and baby “take” to it immediately. It is a skill to be learned.
Having breastfed all 4 of my children until the recommended “into the second year”, I have picked up a trick or two to make the whole process easier. Read on for tips and tricks to make you’re breastfeeding journey go smoothly, or watch the video to hear me chat everything that I have learned.
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Quench That Thirst
If you have ever breastfed before you, will know what I mean about this. You sit down to feed the baby, the baby latches on and BAM! Thirst strikes. It’s like instant desert mouth, like all of your hangovers have come at once. It’s clever old Mother Nature reminding us to drink up and replace all of the fluid that we are pouring into our tiny humans. The answer? Always have water on hand. Everywhere. Every time you feed.
Generally, water bottles, as opposed to glasses of water are the answer. Using bottles means you avoid messy spillages where you are feeding (which will often be in bed). I used to buy in packs of bottled water and leave bottles wherever I was likely to stop and feed. After lots of very bad press about the negative health impacts of disposable water bottles, I invested in some reusable water bottles. On top of being better for the environment, cheaper than constantly buying bottled water and free of the health risks posed by the plastic alternatives, they also keep your water cold for up to 24 hours. This means that your bottles can be filled up and left wherever you feed, providing you with chilled, refreshing hydration whenever you need it.
Stock Up On One-Handed Food
When you have just given birth, often sleep becomes more of a priority than eating. Couple this with the fact that you will have a baby attached to your boob for a large portion of the day, there is a time straight after the birth when eating “normal” food is not as easy as it sounds. My answer to this was to stock up on things that can be eaten with one hand.
My postnatal food of choice was pate on toast. Not only was this a real treat as you are not allowed pate during the 9 months of pregnancy, but being an iron rich food, it really helped me at a time where I was quite anaemic and still losing a lot of blood. Another favourite was peanut butter on toast with sliced apple, another tasty one handed food, and this one is a real source of protein.
Is Your Baby Getting A Meal Or A Snack?
Although breastfeeding is essentially baby led, it is still important to make sure that your baby is not just getting enough, but enough of the right sort of breast milk.
Lots of babies, newborns especially, can fall into a snacking habit, which can cause problems such as;
- weight gain is sure, which can in some cases lead to failure to thrive.
- never sleeping for a block of time, but instead feeding on and off around the clock. This can have an impact not just on Mum and Dad, but on the whole family.
The answer? As discussed in another post, the answer is simply that just because a baby falls asleep, it does not necessarily mean that they are full. More often than not, feeding has worn them out and they will need gentle encouragement to continue. For full details, please read the full post – Doing This One Thing Will Make Breastfeeding More Successful & Help You Get More Sleep.
Line Up Some Entertainment Keep You Awake
As I discussed in my post Binge Worthy TV Shows To Watch While Breastfeeding, TV streaming services such as NOW TV & Netflix have been my very best friends during night feeds. Rather than treating the night feed as a chore, viewing it as a lovely opportunity to cuddle your baby and catch up on some amazing and addictive TV series really made the whole process easier. A simple shift in perspective can make such a difference.
Expressing breast milk has SO many wonderful benefits, including;
- stimulating supply
- creating an emergency stash in your freezer
- helping clear mastitis
- giving you a break, allowing someone else to feed your baby
I would highly recommend “double pumping” where possible. Not only does it save loads of time by expressing from both greats simultaneously, but it also boosts supply far more than it would than expressing breasts consecutively. I used the Medela breast pumps which were fantastic. For more information & tips about expressing, check out my Top Tips For Expressing Breastmilk.
Now this is a divisive topic. For some people, the idea of tracking their baby’s feeds, nappies & sleep sounds like something stressful when they are already busy. Some claim that it makes them paranoid about the exact amounts that baby is getting.
For me, however, tracking these important things about your baby has always been important for a number of reasons. Check out my post all about the App That Helps Me Breastfeed where I explain why I love it, or download your own printable Baby Log below.
Co Sleeping Crib
Night feeds can be so much easier when you can keep your baby close to you. Although it may seem easier to just place baby in bed with you, current guidelines suggest that the best place for the baby to sleep for the first 6 months in on their own mattress, rather than sharing yours, but in the room with you. An ideal comprise is a “co sleeping crib” which safely atatches to your bed. I have found that this is an ideal way to keep baby close enough to you that night feeding and resettling is as easy as it can be.
As your baby gets old enough, your breastfeeding issues will move from trying to keep your baby awake long enough to get a full enough feed, to getting them to pay attention long enough to get a full feed.
A good way of keeping baby entertained yet still on talk when they get to that age where they are very distracted is a breastfeeding necklace. It gives them something to fiddle with during a feed, and may just save your skin from your baby’s fingernails from digging into your skin. (Yes, one of my children’s favourite pastimes during feeds has always been pinching my skin). These necklaces also double up as great teething toys which are always to hand for baby to play with while you hold them as you wear the necklace.
What Are Your Breastfeeding Top Tips?
What have you discovered that has helped you most along your breastfeeding journey? Please share your tips in the comments.