Smiling like Sunshine: What does a breastfeeding mother need?

Friday, 15 June 2012

What does a breastfeeding mother need?

This post was originally published in June 2011.
Don't forget, I am also running a Monkey Mama Nursing Necklace Giveaway (open worldwide!)

Everyone knows that breast milk provides the optimum nutrition for human babies. It is best to exclusively breastfeed babies for the first 6 months of their lives ( a little bit longer if baby is not ready for solids yet)
I think everyone knows this by heart, yet the reality is different. Some have a rough start, some don't have enough suppor where as some people are misinformed. Eventually it seems right to give up breastfeeding for some.
The proportion of babies breastfed at birth in the UK is seven per cent.
Only 35 per cent of UK babies are being exclusively breastfed at one week, 21 per cent at six weeks, 7 per cent at four months and 3 per cent at five months. (source: UNICEF UK)
There is a lot to be done to increase these numbers.
As some of you may or may not know, I am a mother who has been breastfeeding for the last 4.5 years. I tandem feed my 4.5 year old and 18 month old.
For this post, I decided to write about how to get started. What does a breastfeeding mother/mum-to-be need during the early weeks?

  • Information: Reading and  educating yourself during pregnancy is a great start. Forget all about the people around you who couldn't/wouldn't breastfeed.This list includes some very useful books about breastfeeding: Top 10 Books for a Natural Mum
  • Supportive people: A breastfeeding mum needs supportive people around herself. Supportive people who trusts the magic of breast milk and does not offer to give baby formula if baby has been fussy. A supportive partner is also very important so, while educating yoursef,  talk to your partner about breastfeeding and how s/he can help.
  • Determination and perseverance: Being determined to breastfeed is at utmost importance.  Sometimes you will feel yourself alone along the way. You might be exhausted and think about giving up. If needed, ask for help from breastfeeding friends, lactation consultants.
  •  Forget about the baby experts who suggest baby needs an hourly routine to be fed. Breastfeeding on demand is essential to establish a good supply. It is not easy but we mums can survive the lack of sleep if we can rest/sleep when baby sleeps.
  • A breastfeeding mother needs nutritous food, lots of water, comfortable pillows and peace during the early weeks. Ask for help for the house work from family and friends. If this is not an option, consider hiring a postnatal doula or a mother's helper.  
  • You don't need a dummy and  a bottle of formula just in case. Believe in the power of your boobs!
Some mothers decide to wean around 6 months when baby starts solids whereas some mothers decide to carry on until the baby/child outgrows the need. (This is called child-led weaning) Think about how your life will be when you wean the baby and the benefits of breastfeeding a toddler. Only you know what works best for your family.

I would love to hear from you. What does a breastfeeding mother need? What was/is important for YOU?

Image source:Breastfeeding mums/Christoph Wetzel

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