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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    18 comments :

    1. This may seem like a strange answer but its my mother who is no longer with us. She breastfed all three of our children, and I always remember her telling me how wonderful it was and how it was the best for your baby. Since an early age I have never considered feeding my children by any other way

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    2. My husband has been an amazing support. I would have kept going even without him, but he has made it so much easier.

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    3. My Mother-in-law! She breastfed all four of her children for 2 years each. She's told me what a great & relaxed way I'm raising Pickle.

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    4. My husband is my biggest support. He listens to my worries and complaints, is encouraging and keeps me supplied with drinks and snacks!
      I also think the fact that breastfeeding is the norm within our family is a great help. Not one of my family has ever made any daft remarks or questioned my decision to breastfeed my children.

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    5. My husband is my biggest support. He listens to my worries and complaints, is encouraging and keeps me supplied with drinks and snacks!
      I also think the fact that breastfeeding is the norm within our family is a great help. Not one of my family has ever made any daft remarks or questioned my decision to breastfeed my children.

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    6. All of the things you wrote about were/are really important for me. Determination and perseverence are probably the things I needed most, and luckily I'm Little Miss Determination! The most supportive person has been my husband, and also my parents, and surrounding myself with supportive mums through my local LLL group.

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    7. My mum and my partner.
      My mum because she feed me and my brother and her friends also feed their children so I grew up seeing that breastfeeding was normal and natural.
      My partner because he hold my hand when I am tired, brings me tea and is a shoulder to cry and an ear to rant at!

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    8. Determination and perseverence are definately needed and my husband was amazing especialy with those early days with my little girl were it feeld like just as you start to go to sleep they are awake again. He was always on hand to offer support and help in anyway he could even if it was just to bring me a drink. I have been very lucky as my mum was only a call away for practical advice and reassurance too and i know they will be just the same when bump decides to arrive : )

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    9. You definately need determination and perseverance especialy in those early days of feeding. My husband is amazing and so supportive i am very lucky he was always on hand to help or just to get me a drink if needed and say how well i was doing and i was lucky enough to have my mum just a call away for anything i needed to know or was unsure about and i know i will have that great support again when bump decides to arrive and i try to offer any advice and support to friends i can as i know not everyone is so lucky x

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    10. My mum was and is great at supporting me. I think you are right it's important for your partner to understand and be supportive too and to surround yourself with good supporters as a little bit of negativity can do a lot of damage particularly in the early days!

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    11. My mum was and is great at supporting me. I think you are right it's important for your partner to understand and be supportive too and to surround yourself with good supporters as a little bit of negativity can do a lot of damage particularly in the early days!

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    12. My daugher (3) is a great supporter she tells everyone that her brother only drinks mummy milk, she attends the breast buddies group I run and knows everyone by name, fetches drinks for them. When at home she fetches stuff for me if I'm feeding.

      In the early days it was my partner, I had a difficult time first time around and a few times said "lets just try a bottle of formula" out of pure desperation and lack of knowledge. he would say "lets just take it a feed at a time, you can do this, you know its what you want to do" and that was enough to get me through the rough stages till I got some proper support and advice.

      Now my circle of mummy friends are my biggest support, its great to have people you can talk to open and honestly... peer support is a wonderful thing! My top tip all last week was to find your local support/peer supporters/breastfeeding group before baby is born so you can get to know them, this makes it much easier to contact them after baby is born; faces to names and voices. Its good to know you have support from people who you know and are familiar with and that you trust.

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    13. Samantha Holloway17 June 2012 22:13

      My mum and dad are my biggest supporters as my mum breast fed me and my 5 siblings, although I was 18 when I had my first I believe I breast fed as to me it was the normal thing to do as my 3 younger brother were born when I was in my teens so breast feeding was like a natural part of life for me whereas the bottle seemed strange.

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    14. I appreciated that there were lactation nurses at the hospital that came to the room to help - and that I had a husband that really paid attention, so that when we got home and I was exhausted and couldn't remember anything they said, he knew exactly what to do to help the baby latch. My first son nursed for 14 months (by the end, mainly at bedtime) and my second son is 10.5 months and still nursing. He loves food too, but I'm glad to know he isn't getting all the great nutrients from nursing. Both of them have hardly ever been sick. The power of breastmilk, I believe!

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    15. My biggest breastfeeding supporter is my baby. When she was a newborn I watched her feed and just knew that I couldn't do anything else - even when she started having problems, we perservered. She's now 10 months and still happily feeding.

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    16. My biggest supporter is definitely my husband - he was so helpful and provided everything for me to keep me comfortable.

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    17. my mum, and my recently deceased grandmother were my encouragement and support. i'm a single mum and my son father was dead against it. i still breastfeed at two and a half and my support now comes from people like you who have breastfed for longer.

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    18. Thank you for this great advice!

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    Thank you so much for taking your time and leaving a comment!