Did you know that breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby? It is all that your baby needs to eat and drink for about the first 6 months, and will naturally help your little one against colds, tummy bugs, infections and allergies.
Breastfeeding also helps your baby to feel safe and secure, and create a special bond with you. A Māori concept for breastfeeding, ūkaipo, means not just the physical nurturing, but also the spiritual and emotional nurturing which will guide your little one’s growth into adulthood.
Breastfeeding is amazingly beneficial. However, not all mothers can breastfeed, for biological reasons, and there are also mothers who choose not to. All mothers should be supported to make their own choice on how to feed their baby! We are not born with the innate breastfeeding knowledge and individual breastfeeding journeys can take all sorts of different paths. It is not always easy and not all mums will enjoy a smooth breastfeeding experience.
Breastfeeding is learning process, it’s a beautiful but challenging journey, and finding the right support is key to making your journey less challenging, so that you can enjoy that special connection with baby!
Additionally to your midwife, LMC or Tamariki/Well Child Service (such as Plunket) consultant, getting free support online can be really useful.
The goal of the Breastfeeding NZ Facebook community is to help all mums with the information, support and comfort they need during their breastfeeding journey. We are also here to help make breastfeeding a natural and normal part of everyday life and bring more and more New Zealand mums on the breastfeeding journey.
Mamas join the community to share their experiences and issues, ask for recommendations, and give helpful and positive support to other mamas in need. Questions can be posted on the page or anonymously through the private messaging to receive free support from our breastfeeding specialists and the community of mums.
We also regularly share useful tips, links to helpful information, and informational videos by accredited breastfeeding professionals.
On the page, our two amazing breastfeeding specialists often engage with the community of mamas around topics like latching, painful nipples, feeding cues, going back to work, Mama’s wellbeing, etc… Here are some of the recommendations you can find on the page:
How do I get a good latch?
If you are new or about to start your breastfeeding journey, one of the first and very important things you and baby will need to learn is latching on to the breast. A good latch is essential to a smooth breastfeeding journey.
A good latch looks like this: baby has your entire nipple and about an inch of the surrounding areola in his mouth. Baby’s tongue is down, and their lips are turned out against the breast. You can hear your baby swallowing, and there aren’t any clicking or smacking sounds as baby’s sucking.
A good latch means effective transfer of milk, that is when your little one is putting on weight, there are enough wet nappies per day, and baby is generally happy and content. If you’re not sure about baby’s growth or wet nappies, it’s always good to ask your midwife or maternity carer.
What is important to remember here is that a good latch should be comfortable for you! Some babies naturally latch on to the breast, and they make it look so easy. However, personal experiences of the early latch may be different.
What breastfeeding posture should I use?
A good posture is really helpful. There are a few recommended breastfeeding positions, and you may possibly invent a few more in your breastfeeding journey.
Laid-back breastfeeding is the first one mums would try; the classic Cradle hold we usually see in breastfeeding photos; Rugby ball hold is helpful for mums with generous breasts and Side-lying position is ideal for relaxed night feeds. The koala hold (upright breastfeeding) makes breastfeeding comfortable for babies who suffer from reflux or ear infections. Breastfeeding with baby in a sling is convenient for multitasking, or when you’re out and about.
For twins, there is the Double rugby ball hold, where you can feed both babies at once, while having your hands free. You will most probably use different positions for different circumstances, places and times of the day.
Before you set yourself and baby up comfortably, make sure that you have all that you need and want close at hand e.g. water, snacks, phone, TV remote, book or magazine. It can be quite disappointing when baby has finally latched well and the milk has started to flow, and your phone, two meters away, is ringing… make it a time to relax.
How do I avoid painful feeding?
Sore or tender nipples are common during the first few days of breastfeeding. To make early breastfeeding days easier, let some breast milk dry on your nipples. Breast milk contains natural skin softeners and antibodies to fight infection, which can help heal nipples and keep them healthy.
You can also apply a breast cream (e.g. Lansinoh or Tender Care), but avoid general purpose lotions and creams, to keep your baby safe. Let your nipples air-dry after each feeding. Use a good breast support, such as cotton bras with wide, non-elastic straps to help support your breasts without irritating the nipples.
Avoid washing your nipples with soap, because it removes nipples’ natural lubricants and dries them out. If one nipple is very sore, or cracked, start breastfeeding on the side that is less sore, because baby’s initial sucking is usually stronger, than move to the sore side, when baby’s sucking is gentler. If pain or discomfort continue, don’t wait, but ask for help, because this is sign of trouble.
It may be poor latching, uncomfortable breastfeeding positions, a tongue or lip tie, or inverted nipples.
While it may not seem very complicated, the emotions and the tiredness may make breastfeeding harder than needs to be. So if in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach for support.
It is important that you trust yourself, and your instincts. You know what’s best for your body and your baby, so learn to be the expert during your breastfeeding journey.
However, breastfeeding shouldn’t be a one mothers’ mission; family, friends and neighbours can step in and lend a hand when the washing is not done, or the house isn’t clean, and you are feeding a baby who is going through a growth spurt. Try and create a helpful network of support around you, the people around you will be only too happy to jump in and help so make sure you reach out and let them know you need and want them involved.
On the BreastfeedingNZ Facebook page, you will find a supportive group of wonderful mothers like you, at different stages in their breastfeeding journey. Here is some advice from them to help you through your early breastfeeding days:
“Practice, practice and be patient. Love yourself, you are doing a great job. Don’t give up.”
“Take it one feed at a time, never quit on a bad day, and remember that you’re both learning how to breastfeed!”
“Breastfeeding should be comfortable with you. If latching is hurting for more than 10 seconds, relatch and start again. Try having your midwife watching you breastfeed every time she visits so she can see your latch and give you recommendations”
“Don’t be afraid to try different positions while bubba is little. I was nervous about feeding from my high flow boob in public at first, because I had to lay back – now I will lay on the grass if it means bubs gets fed comfortably”
“Stick with it …. it does get easier! The health benefits and how much easier it becomes (no washing, sterilizing, packing bottles and formula) is worth it!”
“Breastfeeding is a huge learning curve, and the wake ups and hours you spend feeding can be pretty brutal. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it (physically and mentally).”
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience that you and your baby embark on together, bonding, getting to know one another and learning day by day. While you may encounter smaller or bigger challenges along the way, it is important to remember that you are not alone.
Check out the BreastfeedingNZ Facebook page, here you will find a large supportive group of wonderful mothers just like you, all at different stages in their breastfeeding journey. You can tell us about your challenges, find answers together, and share with us your breastfeeding stories and photos.
Don’t forget you’re doing an amazing job mama!!!