In honour of world breastfeeding week, I thought I would write about my personal experience with breastfeeding. So, from a Dieticians perspective, combining what I have learnt over the past 10 years and experienced over the past 8 months, I hope these few points will offer some comfort and advice to those who are currently or are planning to breastfeed!
Don’t worry about the clock
While you are pregnant, along with the truckloads of other advice, people love to give feeding advice. “You must only feed every three hours” and “By (insert age here) your baby should be on four hourly feeds, why are you still feeding so regularly?” Breastfeeding is a guessing game. Because you never really know how much baby is drinking, I am of the opinion that you feed as often, and as long, as baby wants. My little boy cried for food every 2 – 2 ½ hours for the first few months and because I was able to – I fed him. It made both of us happier. Whether you choose routine feeding or feeding on demand, make sure that it suits you and makes your life as easy as possible. There is no need to measure yourself against a set of “rules.” Your baby is an individual with his/her own specific needs.
We all worry about our milk supply
Truth be told, before I had my little one, I would roll my eyes at clients who said: “I don’t have enough milk.” But the fear of not having enough milk is a reality that most moms experience. The fact of the matter is that you most probably do have enough, but you will worry anyway, which will cause you to stress and produce less. It’s a vicious cycle, so try your best to chill out and trust in your bodily functions and hormones to produce as much as baby needs! If you really are struggling, speak to your Dietician or Lactation Consultant for advice on how to increase supply.
Cherish the special moments
For me, breastfeeding allows me special time with my gorgeous son. There is nothing quite as special as knowing that I can give him everything that he needs. I love the quiet time that we get to spend together, the way he glances up at me with a smile in his eyes, the way his little hand wraps around my body and clings tightly. The bond is amazing! I always said that I would breastfeed for a year – 8 months on and I’m already questioning why I would stop.
Don’t give up
Although I have had a relatively easy run, I have many clients who have genuinely struggled with various aspects of breastfeeding. Cracked nipples, mastitis, low supply – these are common problems. But don’t be too quick to give up. With all due respect, many health professionals suggest swapping to formula way too easily. Yes, it is the easiest option when times are tough, but the benefits of breastfeeding are undeniable. Contact your Dietician or Lactation Consultant and join a support group (such as la leche league) and try your best to work through the rough patches – it will be worth it in the end.
Start building up a supply early on
If you are planning on going back to work, and plan to continue giving baby expressed breast milk, my best advice would be to start building up a supply early. I took for granted how much milk I had in those first few weeks and months. If I could go back I would have had a more strict routine for expressing and freezing milk – it really would have saved me a lot of stress later on! There were times that I sat at work trying to express, knowing that my nanny was busy using my last freezer bag of milk! It’s stressful and can easily be avoided if you start early!
Our Dieticians can help you with any breastfeeding questions or concerns. Contact us for more information.