first time breastfeeders
Feeding

Tips for first time breastfeeders

Mother-of-three and blogger Laura Doyle offers up some advice for first time breastfeeders. 

Are you planning on breastfeeding but not sure what to expect? Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby, but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience a few challenges along the way. With the right help and advice you can make it through and continue to breastfeed as long as you want to. Here are my five top tips, for new mums planning to breastfeed.

Try to forget about any routine

The ‘rooming in’ period is essential for a successful breastfeeding journey. Remember you are learning to breastfeed and so is baby. Every baby is a different breastfeeding experience and try to remember that your baby has never done this before either. It can be difficult at first to get used to baby feeding at non-specific intervals. Or not knowing exactly how much your baby is getting at each feed, but try not to think too much about when your baby is feeding and for how long. Let your baby set the pace.

Keep in mind, however, that there is no set routine when breastfeeding. Your baby will nurse when they are hungry.

Trust your instincts, and your milk supply

As women, our bodies are designed to feed our babies. And our maternal instincts are exceptional, so use them. Let your instincts and your baby lead the way with breastfeeding. If something just doesn’t feel right have it checked straight away. There are lactation consultants in every maternity hospital and they are amazing. They know their stuff and they are only delighted to help.

Get all the help you can before you leave the hospital. If your gut is questioning your baby’s latch or the position you are holding baby in, ask a midwife to watch you do a feed. As far as milk supply is concerned, you will always have enough milk to feed your baby. It is a rare case where medically a mum may not have enough milk, but it’s not half as common as you may have been told.

It might hurt a little

Let’s be completely honest, at the beginning it hurts. Breastfeeding encourages your uterus to contract a little bit quicker than usual. These ‘after-birth’ pains are no joke! But they only last a couple of days. Your nipples are also new to this breastfeeding experience and it will take a while for them to toughen up – but they will. In the meantime, get some nipple cream or some Multi-mam compresses. They are life savers. With each feed, as baby latches count to 10 until the initial pain subsides, knowing with each feed it will get a little easier.

first time breastfeeders

Don’t compare

All babies grow at different rates. They put on weight and lose weight all for different reasons and no baby is the same as another. As mothers we love to compare babies but in reality there is no true comparison from baby to baby. Remember this: If your breastfed baby is not putting on weight as quickly as another breastfed baby at the same age, it really doesn’t have very much reflection on how they are feeding. Unless there is a significant loss of weight and confirmed by your GP try not to worry. Remember to never compare your baby with others. All you need to worry about is wet and dirty nappies. Once you are nursing and your baby is having wet and dirty nappies you are flying it.

Join a group

One of the best tips I could give a new mum about to begin her breastfeeding journey is to join a group. It helps a lot to see other women who are nursing and to watch how they do it. Its also great to be able to speak to other women who are in the exact same situation as you. It is very healthy to be able to talk.

Talk about breastfeeding, about your baby, or about anything at all. But it is a set time in the week when you can get dressed, get out of the house and meet other mums in the exact same situation as you. There are breastfeeding support groups in every area or La Leche League meetings. Ask your Public Health Nurse for more information.

Check out Laura’s blog at: lovelifeandlittleones.blogspot.ie

More like this:

How to begin breastfeeding your baby
Breastfeeding advice: leaky boobs and oversupply
Breastfeeding in Ireland

Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.

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ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.