Totally Milking it: Breastfeeding Top Tips
I’ve been breastfeeding little Roo for 3 weeks now (in fact, I’m doing it now as I type!) and although I’m certainly no expert I feel like I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks in this time. I think some of our success in breastfeeding (baby Roo has put on a buttload of weight since being born, even despite constantly vomiting several times after every feed!), is pure luck. I seem to have birthed a baby who is a natural breast feeder (thank goodness!), but some of it, I think, is due to planning and preparation. So here are my top tips for your nips! (sorry pals, couldn’t resist!)
You’d be surprised at the positions babies can feed in! As long as their little bodies are in a straight line, they’re loving their milky life. One of the lovely midwives in the hospital showed me how to feed with me laying on my side and Roo on his side opposite me. This is my favourite position as it’s so relaxed and snuggly (& a little lazy!). It also allows me to hold my Kindle up behind his head and catch up with some reading too! I won’t do it if I’m feeling super tired as I feel like I might fall asleep and smoosh him (a big fear of mine), unless Steven is awake and watching us to make sure we are safe. It’s also lovely for Roo to fall asleep like this, and then I can just move him into his cot with baited breath, hoping he doesn’t wake up!
When I’m feeding him sat up, the Boppy Pillow is a godsend! I don’t use it everytime, but if I need to use my hands to eat or just want an easier way of positioning him, it’s fab! It puts him at the perfect height and when he’s cluster feeding it gives my poor arms a bit of a rest. It’s not too soft either, so it’s really supportive and keeps his body in a straight line, rather than other cushions which might be a bit saggy. I was worried it would be one of those ‘baby essentials’ that you end up buying and never actually using, but at least for us, this has been great. It’s also got a cute AF print.
Glow Baby App
For the first few days, Steven and I were marking feeds on the Notes app on our phones and it was a mess. We were too sleep deprived to keep consistent and it was all nonsense. Thankfully, my techy geek of a husband trawled the App Store and came across this app which has genuinely been one of the very best things we’ve found. It’s so bloody easy to use and it has an Apple Watch app which means I can use it even when my phone is just out of reach and I’m trapped under a hungry baby. You just press a button to mark the start of a feed and which side you’re on, and then stop it when you’re done and it’ll put it on a chart for you. It’s so interesting to see patterns and how long you’ve fed for in a day. It’s a godsend when the days all blur into one and you can’t remember when they last fed. It also works for bottle-feed babies, and you can track nappies and sleep too. The nappy one is fun because you can describe the poo by colour and consistency! I love that you can link the account so a second caregiver can mark things down too and it syncs across so when Steven changes him in the mornings and then goes to work, I can keep track. We only use the free one and it’s really such an amazing app.
If it’s been a long time between feeds, I can tell which side is next because my boob turns into a bowling ball. Seriously, it gets super hard and massive, and I look like I stole my chest from a glamour model (sadly the rest of me is covered in sick and haggard AF!). But when he’s clusterfeeding, or the gap isn’t that long (which is most of the time tbh) I need to know which one is next. The Glow Baby App is amazing for this, but also a hair bobble or bracelet on your wrist that you move across each time works well too for a more analog solution. I bought a fun rainbow one from eBay because I am an extra mama, but to be more subtle, just a normal hair bobble would work too.
Lanolin nipple cream
It’s better to protect your nips from the start, rather than waiting for them to be sore. I swear by the Lansinoh HPA Lanolin cream. Don’t be put off by the price, it’s really thick and lasts forever. It’s also amazing because you don’t have to wipe it off before the baby feeds which isn’t a case with a lot of the others and the less you have to think about, the better! Keep one in your changing bag for when you’re out, and one by your side so you are never without.
Breastfeeding will make you feel hungry and forgetting to put snacks within arms reach is a rookie mistake! We have a little caddy with a few section in it which moves around the house with us. In one side, it’s full of essentials like nappies and wipes and nipple cream, but on the other it is full of snacks. I won’t lie and tell you I eat healthy food when I’m feeding - I love anything sweet or perhaps some crisps for a more savoury fix. You burn around 500 calories a day breastfeeding, so eat away Mama, you need it! I do feel bad nomming at night when Steven is asleep but a girl has got to eat!
You also need to drink loads when you’re breastfeeding. As much as I love the look of my Chilli’s bottle, I prefer to use my HydrateM8 when feeding (I am such a sucker for water bottles… especially for someone who never uses them!), because it has a straw, so I can drink it regardless of what position I’m in. Make sure it’s full and cold ready for you. I am not a big water fan, so I fill mine with squash. It was also a godsend in labour as I didn’t have to make any effort when drinking it.
Some of the time, breastfeeding is magical and wonderful. You can look into your babies eyes and feel proud that you are producing the food that keeps them alive. And it’s. beautiful. But sometimes you just want to watch an Episode of Queer Eye or catch up on your Goodread’s challenge. And that’s okay too. I find my Kindle much easier than a book, because I can do it one-handed. It’s been great for making myself read (or schedule tweets on my phone, or reply to messages) as I can’t get very distracted when I’m pinned to one place by a little human.
This was something that I saw constant praise for, and as it wasn’t too pricey I thought it was worth a shot and I’m so glad I did. The Haakaa is just a silicone container and the idea is that you use it to suction on the boob that your baby isn’t feeding from, to catch the letdown from that side. It doesn’t count as pumping or expressing, so it shouldn’t mess up your supply if you start it earlier than 6 weeks (I’ve been doing it since 2 weeks), and I tend to get around 30ml a time, but I have gotten up to around 60ml! I’ve been putting them in the little bags and popping them in the freezer, so that when Roo can take a bottle (at around 6 weeks is when it’s recommended) Steven can feed him, without me having to worry too much about pumping straight away. Also, I like seeing how much I can get in one feed, like a really lame game with myself.
If you’ve ever been to my house, you’ll know that Steven and I are absolute nerds. We love technology and up to this point it’s been a fun luxury, but now that my hands are full all the time, it’s been a lifesaver. We have 2 full-sized Echo’s and one dot, plus a whole load of Phillips Hue lights and some smart plugs. The Apple TV can be controlled from my phone (a relief if the remote is just out of reach and Ruben is mid-feed!) and I can get the lights brighter, or turn them off using my voice or my phone. In the first week it was frustrating that the bedside lamp was a little too bright and woke Steven up if I needed to feed or change Roo. So we bought a basic Hue light which I can dim from my phone as needed and it’s been super useful. We’ve also set up voice commands on the Alexa, so I can say “Goodnight” and all the plugs and lights downstairs turn off (this was a mammoth job usually!), and the bedside lamp turns on to a nice dimmed level.
Although Steven himself cannot lactate (something he is p sad about tbh) he can help support me with breastfeeding. There are so many ways that he can/does do this that I’m going to do a full post about how partners can support you with your breastfeeding, nut just know that it makes things so much easier.
So they are my top tips! It’s only been 4 weeks (yep, it’s taken me a full week to write this post!), but I feel pretty happy with how it’s going for us and I would love everyone to feel the same, if breastfeeding is something that they decide to do.
Obviously I am not trained in any of this (or anything much at all really!), so for real advice you'd be best off speaking to a medical professional or a breast feeding support person. There are often local groups you can go to or people you can ask online. These are just my experiences and your milage might differ as the kids say, but hopefully it will help you a little bit!
Let me know if you agree/disagree or have any tips of your own!
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