How you feed you baby is something that can be explored at any stage in pregnancy. Your midwife will normally spend time with you explaining the benefits of breastfeeding for both you and baby, so this blog is designed to help you purchase necessities ahead of time and plan for the support that you will most likely need in the early days.
What Apparatus Will I Need?
Not much really. Some women prefer to cover their breasts and baby with a muslin while others invest in clothing that makes feeding discrete, such as the ‘breast vest’. Following on from establishing your milk supply you may think about expressing some breastmilk for use later, in which case you’ll need a breast pump (the medela swing is a firm favourite of mine), a steriliser and bottles.
Feeding in Public
This is more about building confidence around feeding in public, so take your time and if possible make that first feed in public with other new mums . The clothing that you wear also makes a massive difference to how easy you find breastfeeding out and about, so do give it some thought; vest tops under another top are essential but more and more high street shops stock breastfeeding clothing (H&M do a fab ‘MAMA’ nursing top). With more and more cafes and restaurants promoting ‘breastfeeding friendly’ areas, feeding in public is becoming much less stressful. If you do find initially that you feel too self conscious many stores (Marks & Spencer) have breastfeeding rooms, just check ahead of time to be sure.
Problems & Solutions
Sore nipples, engorged breasts, mastitis, low milk supply, an unsettled baby? The majority of problems concerning breastfeeding are as a result of poor positioning and attachment, so spending the time mastering this in the early days with midwives and specialist breastfeeding support is invaluable. Sometimes however the solution is not quick or straightforward and your specialist may advise other methods to help support your feeding while you sort the problem out, such as a nipple balm. Nipple balms are designed to maintain the moisture in your skin (lanolin) while the other ingredients like coconut oil, which is present in my expert midwife’s ‘no harm nipple balm’ have anti infection properties, along with healing and soothing properties.
Any problems that you do encounter will need assessment by a trained professional, especially for things like a thrush infection, which will need specific treatment. Your GP, midwife or health visitor will be able to help you.
If you find that you are struggling with breastfeeding then these websites are extremely useful. You should always have access to midwifery support in the first 6 weeks, so contact your hospital’s maternity unit to speak with a midwife. Alternatively you may find local agencies such as the La Leche League and NCT breastfeeding support groups.