Planning and Preparing For Breastfeeding. Everything You Need And Everything You Need To Know
Follow along with Maria as she gives her top hints and tips for a successful breastfeeding journey. Be prepared and plan ahead so that you have everything that you could possibly need.
What Is Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is the process of a mother producing milk in her breasts that is intended for consumption by her baby. The breasts produce milk from water and nutrients that are gathered from the blood stream. The milk is then stored in lobules (glands that make the milk) until the hormone oxytocin is released, causing the lobules to contract, pushing the milk out through the nipples. This is the process called lactation, commonly referred to as 'nursing' or breastfeeding.
Babies are born with a natural sucking reflex, but it is something that they have to learn. Learning to breastfeed can take time and patience. So, mom and baby are discovering something new together. For happy, healthy and full babies, there are a few hints and tips to making breastfeeding successful.
Why Should You Feed Your Baby Breast Milk?
The Benefits Of Breastfeeding For The Baby
It is well documented that mom’s breast milk is the best source of vital nutrients, proteins, sugars, fats and vitamins for a baby. The only thing that breast milk does not provide your with baby is vitamin D. Other than that, they have everything that they need for optimum development straight from mamma's milk.
Breast milk offers the baby enormous health benefits. Whether the baby gets the milk directly from the breast or from a bottle with expressed milk, the nutritional result is the same.
Here a just a few of the amazing benefits.
- Provides antibodies to fight against viruses and bacteria
- Lowers risk of developing asthma and other allergies
- Decreases the risk of respiratory illness and ear infections
- Helps to avoid digestive issues, as breastmilk is easy for the baby's little tummy to process
- Increases brain development (as opposed to formula fed babies) according to research. The differences found in breastfed and formula fed babies can also be accredited to the increased physical touch and eye contact
- Reduces the risk of the baby developing Type 2 diabetes later in life
The Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Mom
Babies aren't the only ones to reap the perks of breastfeeding. Whether you are pumping your milk or feeding directly from the breast, there are lots of advantages.
- Breastfeeding helps the uterus to return to normal size. By the end of your pregnancy your uterus would have grown to almost the full size of your abdomen. Breastfeeding causes the release of Oxytocin, a hormone that (among other things) helps your uterus to retract.
- PPD or Postpartum Depression is a common side effect of pregnancy and child birth. It varies in intensity. Research has shown that mothers who breastfeed are less likely to suffer from PPD.
- Research has also shown that breastfeeding impacts mom's health later on in life too, making them less likely to develop high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.
- The risks of developing some cancers are also reduced. Specifically breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Other Amazing Benefits Of Breastfeeding
The awesome advantages don't end there:
- Breast milk costs you nothing! Unlike formula.
- You can carry it with you wherever you go. Either in your breasts or expressed into a bottle.
- The more you feed or pump the more your body will make, so you never run out of breast milk and get caught short with a hungry baby.
The Importance Of Being Prepared For Breastfeeding
Having a baby is a wonderful, exciting time for mom and for the whole family. Most women have an idealised, hallmark movie idea in their mind of how it is going to be. But, one thing that is always certain is the unexpected!
Breastfeeding itself is a joy and a sacrifice in equal measures. It is a lot of hard work. Having a plan breastfeeding and preparing all of the items before the baby is born will get you ahead of the game.
Follow Maria's top tips for breastfeeding in our YouTube video guide.
Maternity Bras or Nursing Bras
If you are going to buy only one item and nothing else then it should be a decent quality nursing bra. Good breastfeeding underwear is an essential item! We recommend the Medela T-shirt nursing bra, which you can purchase here.
A nursing bra is something that you should invest in a few weeks before your baby arrives. Timing is important at this stage and a few weeks prior to the delivery date is the perfect time to buy your bra. This is because we don't always have control over when the baby will arrive and it is not so rare for babies to make an early appearance. You also don't want to buy your bras too early as your body is changing at a rapid pace. If you buy your breastfeeding bra too early, it may not fit by the time the baby comes.
Getting a fitting for the perfectly sized bra is recommended here. You need a bra that fits well and is comfortable and supportive. As opposed to one that is too tight and may restrict your milk flow.
Features Of A Good Quality Nursing Bra:
- Most nursing bras have a quick release snap that allows you to expose your breast without removing the strap. This is a great feature to get quick access to the babies meal and it also preserves mom's modesty. The snap clicks off and on very easily with one hand.
- The best nursing bras do not come with underwire. This is to stop the bra being tight or digging into the breast, which can cause issues with blocked ducts.
- Some bras also come with pads. Through pregnancy and after the baby is born, your nipples will get larger and darker. This happens to that it is easier for the baby to see and locate the nipples. A good nursing bra has the pads to help limit the visibility of enlarged nipples through the material.
A New Mummy Company top tip for breastfeeding is to clip a hairband, scrunchy or other soft and flexible item to the snap clasp of your maternity bra. This helps you to help you remember which side you just nursed the baby on.
A Body Pillow/Breast Feeding Pillow
An item that many moms will tell you in an amazing comfort is a body pillow. It is a relatively cheap item that feels like a luxurious commodity. You can buy body pillows that double as a breast feeding pillow, so you can use it throughout your pregnancy and then for as long as you choose to breast feed. It is an investment that has many years of potential use. A multi-purpose item means good value for your money. We recommend the Medela maternity and nursing cotton pillow, which you can add to your cart here.
Buy a good body pillow while you are still pregnant. It can help you get a good nights sleep even when your growing bump is getting in the way and your bladder is calling out to you for endless relief.
- Use it as a body wrap around. The pillow is soft and pliable, which means that you can manipulate it easily to conform around your body and your bump in lots of different ways.
- Use it for multiples. The Medela pillow is long and flexible. A very good option if you have multiples as you can breast feed both babies at the same time, rested on the pillow.
- Double it over if you have small breasts. If your chest is small, you can double the pillow over onto itself to raise the baby up to your breast. You can have it as a single layer if your breasts are larger and can reach the baby.
There is also the option of simply using a regular pillow from our sofa as a breastfeeding aid. However, they are not designed for the task and can have a tendency to slip and slide away from your body. A task designed breastfeeding pillow will mould and conform to your body.
A Breast Pump
Realistically there may be occasions in which you and your baby will be separated. When you are still in the hospital, after the baby is born, there may be a medical reason why you are physically separated. In this event the hospital will have an electric breast pump that you can use to initiate your milk supply. Many new moms choose to buy or rent a breast pump for when they have been discharged from the hospital.
You can rent the Medela Symphony or the Ameda Platinum hospital grade double breast pump from us. If you are in the Toronto & GTHA areas, we will pick it up and conveniently deliver it directly to your doorstep for free! If you are outside of the GTA we can deliver it to you for as little as $20 each way.
Once you and baby are home, there are also many reasons why you may be separated. You may need to go back to work, go to a doctor's appointment or even attend a family wedding. On these occasions you may still want your baby to receive your milk while you are away. If you plan to nurse your baby for a long time then there is a strong likelihood that you would like a break from direct feeding from the breast. The added benefit is that dad (or other family members) can enjoy bonding with the baby.
What type pump is best?
The best pump for you depends on how long and how frequently you are going to pump.
Double pumps are best for the long term because they are fast, efficient and productive. All of the double pumps are electric.
Single pumps and hand pumps are suitable for the odd occasional pumping session and are more cost effective for these needs. There are single electric and single hand pumps.
As we mentioned earlier on, your breasts will get bigger and so will your nipples. Some nursing bras do come with pads however most breastfeeding moms choose to also use disposable breast pads. Not only for reasons of modesty.
A breast pad goes into the bra to absorb any leakage that occurs. This is very common and happens for lots of reasons.
- One nipple may leak fluid while you are feeding the baby on the other side (many moms like to attach a pump to the breast that is not being used to harvest that precious fluid)
- If your baby cries it is common to have a 'let down'. It doesn't have to be your baby that cries, it even happens when a baby on the TV does!
Without the pads there is the potential that your milk will very quickly seep through your bra and your outer clothing. This is obviously super uncomfortable.
How To Use Disposable Breast Pads
They come in individual containers. When you open the container you will see two plastic sticky tapes. Remove those and stick them to the outer part of your bra. The soft underside will sit comfortably on your nipples. Remove them as soon as they get damp as a wet, moist, warm area is a breading ground for bacteria. You can add disposable breast pads to your cart here. We recommend the disposable breast pads in the beginning of your breastfeeding journey as then you don't have the extra laundry that comes with the reusable breast pads.
Sterilising Bottles, Pumps And Breastfeeding Equipment
It may be that you are not in need of any sterilising items at all if you solely breastfeed, and in that case you have nothing to sterilise. However if you do, then there are some key items that are necessary to make sure that your equipment is all hygienic.
- Bottle Brush: We recommend the Phillips Event Bottle and Nipple Brush. It comes with a cover, which is very useful if you and your baby are on the move. This is a sturdy brush with a strong neck that won't snap and it is very cost effective.
- If you re using formula it is important that you sterilise your equipment after every single use. If you are breastfeeding and only supplying breast milk to your baby, you only have to sterilise every 24 hours. You do still need to wash them after each use. To sterilise we recommend that you use the Medela Milk Steam Bags. These are microwave steam bags. Open the bags, put in the item, fill with water and pop it into the microwave. Follow the instructions for safe and easy use. There is a set of numbers on the back of the bag to mark off each use, this is because you can use each bag up to 20 times. This means that a box of 5 steam bags means 100 sterilising opportunities.
- If you are pumping a lot, you may choose to use an electric steriliser. There are many on the market to choose from.
Listen to your nipples!! Mother nature knows exactly what she is doing. If your nipples are sore then it is usually as a result of how your baby is latched on and positioned. The best thing to do if you have sore or cracked nipples is to see a lactation consultant to help iron out any issues. If your nipples are not cracked or bleeding but are feeling a little tender then we would highly recommend the Ouchie Momma Nipple Rescue, by Rumina Naturals. It is oil based and looks and feels like butter. Smooth it over your sore nipples. It does work well. It is very effective and does not have to be washed off, it is also safe for your baby. There are lots of nipple creams and remedies on the market, but it is a good idea to check for ingredients. Many have lanolin, which is a wool ingredient that some people are allergic to.
Breastfeeding Chair Or Nursing Recliner
When you are breastfeeding your baby it is vital that you are comfortable. The recliner chair makes sure that mom is relaxed and feels like she can sit and enjoy the special time feeding the baby. A dining room chair, for example isn't the best feeding station. If you have the space and the resources then it is recommended to purchase a nursing chair.
If not, then you can make a comfortable feeding station out if your sofa. Put your feet up and position the pillows in a comfortable way.
If you are out and about you may want to consider a breastfeeding cover. We recommend the Babyleaf nursing cover. A really lovely item, it comes with a zip and is available in lots of different colours and patterns. This means that you can wear it in a number of ways, it doesn't actually look like it's for nursing. The Babyleaf cover can also be used on the baby's car seat as an adjustable cover.
Finally, moms need to remember to take care of themselves. It is a great idea to set up a proper nursing station with drinks and snacks, a phone charger, the tv remote, a book or whatever helps you to relax. Choose your favourite items and enjoy your breastfeeding experience.