Organic skincare, organic food, traditional medications, essential oils, hipster apothecaries. There is no denying the trend of going back to the ‘natural’ way among the young urban millennials these days. This extends to young mothers as well – from gentle birthing to breastfeeding. This is one trend I hope will stick around for long.
It is important, though, to want to breastfeed not because everybody else is doing it. But because you, yourself realise the importance of it and have made that decision for you and your little one.
Here’s a cheat list on how to start right, and have it easier. Do this, and you can skip the unnecessary mistakes and heartaches of a new mum. Let’s begin!
1. Learn about breastfeeding in advance
Take some time off during your pregnancy and look for a breastfeeding class from a trusted organisation. It’s important that you learn how to position and latch correctly before you give birth. It will explain to you what to expect, and gives you more confidence, preventing you from panicking if things don’t turn out the way you had imagined. After the birth of the baby, it might be too overwhelming for you to learn something new.
2. Tell the doctor you want to breastfeed your baby
Tell your attending obstetrician during your checkups that you plan to breastfeed, and then again when you check in to the hospital ready for labour. This should alert the hospital staff that they should be handing you the baby for some skin to skin care right after birth, and prevent them from quickly sending your baby to the nursery and feeding her formula while she’s there.
3. Book a breastfeeding massage in advance
Make sure to book a good and trusted masseur who knows how to do a breastfeeding massage before you give birth, and plan to have her come round your house a day after your birth. The massage will help to stimulate your breast milk production, and also ‘open up’ your virgin milk ducts. Some lucky mothers have their milk come in early in the first 3 days after birth, and will still likely be needing the massage to relieve them from any breast engorgement.
4. Do the kangaroo immediately after birth
I’m not talking about doing jumping exercises here, I promise. The first hour after birth is acutely important – you must do skin-to-skin kangaroo care with the baby, and attempt to latch her during this time. This will encourage milk production and ejection, and help your uterus to shrink too. You might have read about the ‘breast crawl’ – please don’t be frustrated if it doesn’t happen! It’s okay to just relax and bathe in the relief and joy of seeing your baby for the first time.
5. Seek help sooner rather than later
Have the phone number for a lactation counselor/nurse near you handy if your hospital doesn’t have one. If you realise you are not able to latch or worry that your baby might have other problems such as a tongue tie or a lip tie that’s making the journey difficult, it’s important to seek help early. The earlier you establish the latch, the easier your breastfeeding journey will be!
6. Say NO to the bottle
Even if your milk comes in late and you find yourself needing to feed your baby with supplementary milk (donated milk or formula milk), please feed using cup/spoon/syringe feeding. Using a bottle too early will lead to nipple confusion, and with the added risk of overfeeding the baby as well.
7. Stay positive
Many mothers worry too much or too early about their milk supply. In the first 3 days, you will most likely only have colostrum which is of a thick consistency and rich with antibodies, famously known as ‘liquid gold.’ It’s difficult to express this out because of its thickness, and usually only the baby is able to remove most of it from your breast. As long as your baby is calm, sleeping after feedings, pooping and peeing daily, you should do nothing but exactly those things too.
By Dr. Tengku Atiqah