By Jen Milligan
Breastfeeding can be really hard. It can be emotionally and physically draining and it can be very tempting to feel like 'throwing in the towel'. Here are a few tips from a seasoned midwife to help you with your breastfeeding journey.
How a baby feeds for the first few weeks is very different to how they need to feed for the following 6 months ...
The first two weeks for a baby and mum are all about establishing a milk supply and “getting the hang” of breastfeeding. Mum often needs to feed from both breasts to establish her supply. However, once her milk is established, it is very important that baby can get a “full feed” from one breast before moving to the second breast. By providing a long feed on one breast, your baby gets a wonderful mix of the rich and fatty milk along with the more watery/sugary foremilk.
A full feed from one side, before offering “dessert” from the other breast, means baby is receiving ample calories to allow longer periods of sleep between feeds. In addition, feeding in this way often relieves many upset tummy issues that may be caused by not allowing one breast to be drained before moving to the second breast.
Babies cry for more than just hunger ...
Crying may be caused by a need to sleep, a pain or a worry. Often, when you’re out and about, the crying bothers you more than anyone else and it’s easy to get flustered - fast!
All babies cry as it’s their way of communicating a need. However, they are not always needing more milk. If your toddler told you that they were tired and you responded by placing another meal in front of them, it probably wouldn’t end well. This is similar to how a baby might feel when they are crying because they’re tired and a teat or nipple is popped into their mouth. Whilst the sucking is temporarily soothing, the ingestion of more milk is often not.
We encourage mums to be intuitive. You know your baby best, and with a little bit of time and effort, you can learn to read your baby really well and respond appropriately.
Sucking doesn't always indicate hunger ...
The sucking reflex is very strong for a newborn and mums are often not aware that the suck can purely be for comfort. It may help them drift off to sleep, or comfort them while they get that bothersome burp up. If your baby is needing to suck to deal with a sore tummy, a feed may even make it worse.
We encourage parents to assess whether their little one is wanting to suck because they’re needing milk, or if they’re just needing to satisfy that strong urge to suck. Often, mum knows that her baby isn’t hungry, but having the confidence to go against comments from those around them can be very difficult in the early days.
Help is at hand ...
Ingrid and I, at The Nurtury, are passionate about helping mums settle into their new breastfeeding role. We know that it takes a village to raise a child, and we love seeing positive changes in families as they learn how to nurture and grow their new little baby.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the challenge of breastfeeding? We offer phone consults at a scheduled time that suits you, to offer you advice and support as you navigate the tricky issues that feeding can present.
We also run Baby Care Classes over 5 weeks, covering feeding, sleep & settling, birth debrief & postnatal depression, starting solids and the importance of play. These classes are held in Berkeley Vale in a beautiful and intimate setting tailored to your needs, complete with homemade cake and a warm cuppa.
We would love you to be part of our village!
Jen is a midwife with almost 20 years experience in a Sydney birthing unit. She now lives & works on the Central Coast, supporting new mothers as they transition into motherhood.
Ingrid is a birth & postpartum doula, living and working on the beautiful NSW Central Coast.