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All Things Baby, Breastfeeding

January 23, 2019

An IBCLC’s guide to getting started with breastfeeding.

The gorgeous Lucy from Momma Mack

If you’re a new parent you quite likely have questions. Many questions, like “Will I ever sleep again?” and “Why do newborn babies have to breathe like that?!” I can’t answer those, but I AM here to talk about some of those newborn breastfeeding worries that tend to bombard you in the first week or so…

“Will my boobs ever stop looking like beachballs filled with rocks?”

Ah, engorgement. Nothing quite prepares you for the agony of a breast filled with ALL THE MILK, does it? Firstly, yes, they will shrink fairly soon, and eventually they’ll be back to nearly their old shape and size. In the meantime, here are some top tips for dealing with rock hard breasts…

  1. Feed the baby! Nature has given you the best breast pump in the world in the shape of your baby – get them latched on, with help from a midwife or breastfeeding supporter if needed, and feel that relief! Studies have shown that the best way to avoid uncomfortable engorgement is to feed your baby early, often, and effectively.
  2. If baby can’t latch because you are very full, you may need to soften the areola a little bit to help them on. Reverse pressure softening can really help to push all that milk and fluid back to make latching less of a challenge for your baby.
  3. If you develop a fever, a hot red area, feel unwell, or have a lump in your breast that doesn’t go with a feed then seek support – you may have mastitis, and that needs to be looked at by someone qualified such as a midwife or doctor.

“Surely he can’t be hungry AGAIN?”

Are his eyes open? Is he stirring? Did you just put him in a cot or crib? Then yep, he probably wants to feed again – sorry. Newborn babies feed anywhere from 8 – 12 times a day. How do we know this is ok and safe? We look for signs of good feeding. These are:

  1. Baby is weeing and pooing. We want at least one wet nappy per day of life until your milk comes in, and then we want 6 heavy wet nappies per 24 hours. We also want to see meconium moving through brown and then to yellow seedy stools as your milk production increases. Babies should poo an absolute minimum of 2x per 24 hours. It is a myth that breastfed babies don’t poo daily in the first 6 weeks.
  2. Baby is well on the way to regaining birth weight by two weeks old.
  3. Breastfeeding is comfortable for mum, and your nipple comes out of baby’s mouth rounded, not blanched, slanted or pinched.

If all of the above apply to you then try to go with the frequent feeds – it helps your body to make more milk, comforts your baby, and may even be protective against sudden infant death syndrome.  If however, even one of the above points isn’t true for you, or you just feel worried, then SEEK SUPPORT. You may need some help to get baby attached well to the breast, and it’s possible that just because one or two, or even five people have already helped you, that you still need someone different to show you what to do. Not everyone you come across will have the skills or time to offer good breastfeeding support. If something isn’t right, keep looking! You can attend a local support group or baby café, call a national helpline, or hire a private IBCLC (the highest breastfeeding qualification it’s possible to have) or even a postnatal doula to support you. Never suffer alone, and never put up with being told breastfeeding is just difficult. The first couple of weeks are messy, blurry, and often tearful. It DOES get better. You just need to find someone who knows their stuff.

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