There has never been a better time to be a breastfeeding mum. There is currently a breastfeeding renaissance and the movement is gaining momentum. There are many resources you can rely on today for an enjoyable breastfeeding experience. Here are some that I found the most useful when I started breastfeeding my three-month old twins:
1. Get Good Breastfeeding Information and Support
My hospital lactation consultant said something that really stuck with me: “Breastfeeding is a very natural thing but it does not come naturally.” Having the right products without the appropriate knowledge and skills can lead to problems and pain. Don’t wait until your baby is born as early education is important. Find a credible website or join a Facebook community like The Breastfeeding Advocates Network (TBAN). Reading posts, questions and responses will give you inspiration and insights as well as the confidence to follow through on your breastfeeding commitment. Watch relevant videos (e.g. those by Dr Jack Newman on YouTube) or read the right books (Gina Yong, founder of TBAN has just published one).
Connect with the lactation consultant at your hospital before and immediately after your delivery. If you can afford it, engage the services of a midwife from an organisation like Jenlia Maternal Services who can make home visits to assist you in breastfeeding and baby issues.
2. Purchase a Breastfeeding Pillow
Sore nipples and low milk supply are two main reasons for the failure to breastfeed. Getting a good latch helps to prevent these problems. A good latch is more likely with a proper breastfeeding pillow that positions baby perfectly at breast level, something you will not be able to achieve consistently with clumsy cushions. It will also help you avoid awkward wrist manoeuvres that can later lead to medical issues like De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. I say this based on painful personal experience. My Brest Friend has a great range. They even have a nifty deluxe version for mummies of twins like me; a great time-saving tool as it allows for tandem breastfeeding that spares us from energy and sleep sapping successive feeds.
3. Shop for Nice Nursing Wear
You’ll not carry on breastfeeding if you feel like a c-grade cow, and how you look can influence how you feel. Nursing mums can still look chic with the wide choice of clothes available to us today, outfits that are functional yet fashionable. Some of my favourite labels include Spring Maternity and Mothers En Vogue (MEV). MEV also offers a beautiful nursing poncho made from luxurious yet lightweight bamboo fibre that can also serve as a stylish wrap. If you’re willing to pay a premium for something unique, you can shop online from specialists like A Pea in the Pod (they now ship to Malaysia!) or artisans on Etsy. Japanese brands like Uniqlo and MUJI also present affordable non-maternity alternatives such as soft tees and light button down tops.
4. Look into Resources for Pain Relief
You need to prepare for the dark side of breastfeeding that its champions and cheerleaders don’t always discuss. Have some lanolin or lavender oil ready to deal with cracked and sore nipples. Most people lament about their low supply and wish for situations where they can have milk squirting out by the gallons. However, an oversupply of breast milk also has its own set of issues like engorgement, blocked ducts and at its worst, mastitis. So, do stock up on hot and cold compresses to face these nasty situations when needed. A disposable diaper filled with hot water can be a cheap and cheerful alternative to help relieve a sore breast or back.
5. Regulate Production with the Right Products
An effective breast pump can not only help you build your breast milk empire, but also to strategically regulate it. I use my Medela Freestyle electric pump to extract milk for storage but also to empty remnant milk from my ducts after feeds. This sends signals to my system to adjust my supply according to my babies’ needs. There are also the “garden variety” resources you can utilise – natural galactagogues like fenugreek (in pure or pill form) to increase your milk stream, or cabbage leaves to stunt it.
6. Find New Ways to Fill Up Your Feeding Time
Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to bond with your baby. However, there are eight to 12 feeds a day for the rest of your breastfeeding life and sometimes your baby may not always want to make that connection. Breastfeeding releases oxytoxins, “cuddly hormones” that make you feel warm and fuzzy but also very, very sleepy. When baby is drowsy and you need to stay awake, good apps on your gadgets can come in handy. I’ve used days like that to watch whole Korean drama serials using the Viki and Drama Fever apps, read entire volumes of baby books and catch up on my correspondence with my iPhone.
These are just a few tips. Do take time to understand what works best for you as you breastfeed. Talk to other mums who will usually be more than happy to share their own tools and tricks!
Li-Hsian recently left a career in corporate communications to become a full-time mum to twins. She is learning new things daily as she tries to balance the romance of motherhood with the messy realities of her latest role.