Breastfeeding tips from mums who have been there

18 Nov

So many mums want to breastfeed…but can’t.

Have you heard of the government initiative that has been introduced in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire where mothers are effectively being bribed into breastfeeding?  They will be given £120 vouchers to spend on the high street if they breastfeed for 6 weeks, and £200 if they last for 6 months.  Huh? We think this is such a backwards way to go about it – breastfeeding can be tough enough without this added pressure!  The ‘breast is best’ mantra is rammed down our throats from the moment baby is conceived.  Personal choice is removed from the equation and societal pressure is ramped up.  The pressure it puts on mums who are unable to breastfeed is insurmountable.  I struggled from an inability to breastfeed my first baby and still talk about it now – 9 years later!

Mum breastfeeding her baby

There are so many reasons it might not work out:

1)      Improper latching or tongue tie

2)      Mum too tired or not able to cope / not enough support

3)      Embarrassment or societal pressure

4)      Not enough milk being produced /baby not thriving

6)      Pain and / or cracked nipples, thrush, mastitis or other physical barriers

“Family history, guilt, pain, lack of confidence, society’s attitude towards women’s breasts, a mother’s relationships with others (especially her partner and mother) are all part of the jigsaw that needs to be pieced together for it to work. Whether a woman believes it’s best for her and her child is deep-rooted, and what presents as a problem is sometimes not the real problem at all. It’s one of the paradoxes of breastfeeding that something so simple could have become so multilayered and complicated.” says Joanna Mearhead in the Guardian.  We agree, it is not only down to any one factor when a mother is unable to breastfeed.  Unfortunately, others’ judgements don’t take these factors into consideration and usually just judge the mother as not having wanted to.  Very harsh, especially on the mother herself.

exhausted mother can't breastfeed

Note: We are not breastfeeding counsellors.  We believe that it is a mother’s choice how she chooses to feed her baby, and whatever choice she makes should be supported.  We offer the following advice as supportive tips as opposed to technique based tips.

Tips for effective breastfeeding:

1) It is easier to change your mind to stop than it is to start again once you’ve stopped – not to make the decision to stop any harder than it already is, but you can always pump to keep your supply up and then try again when you are ready.

2) There are many resources for breastfeeding support, sometimes you just have to look for them.  Local drop-ins, phone lines, counsellors, Internet support forums, websites, books, DVDs, and many more.  Some to try: ‘Breastfeeding without tears‘ DVD by Clare Byam-Cook and Breastfeeding consultant Emma Pickett in North London.

3) Keep in mind your baby could have a tongue tie which can make it very hard for them to feed.  This is easily rectified but apparently now not so easy to get approval for.

4) Don’t be embarrassed to feed in public – (see this video for a great take on it).  You can use a cover if you feel more comfortable. According to the Equality Act 2010 (UK),  it is illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place.

5) If you need to express, use a good pump to make life easier. Hospital grade pumps are quick, effective and you can hire them. Have a picture of your baby nearby to help with the let down reflex.

6) Get the gear – the right type of bra and easy access tops are essential, some other optional products include a breastfeeding bracelet to remind you which side you last fed on, a cover if it makes you feel more comfortable, a good pump (see #5) and a supportive pillow (can use your pregnancy pillow).

6) Lansinoh can save your life.  Enough said.

7) Don’t ignore signs of mastitis – it can come on quickly and make you quite ill.

8) You can try combination feeding (some good info here on Mumsnet)  – this may help you get your supply established or may make it easy enough to continue.

9) The best advice I was given was about the mental health of the mother and the health of the baby – if either of these things are brought into question as a result of breastfeeding, then it is time to stop. Not give up but stop.  You are not a failure, you are not a bad mother and you have given it your best. Rest easy knowing that.

Keep calm you are a good mum

Any other breastfeeding tips you can share with us? Any good websites, books, counsellors you’d like to recommend? 

 

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One Response to “Breastfeeding tips from mums who have been there”

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  1. Breastfeeding tips from mums who have been there – Nurturing Mums – Your Guide To Breastfeeding - November 23, 2013

    […] Breastfeeding tips from mums who have been there – Nurturing Mums […]

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