Whilst it is certainly true that breastfeeding is a natural and instinctive skill it is not always true that it will come ‘naturally’. Personal experience has highlighted breastfeeding as one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer, but it has also taught me that support and knowledge are key to a successful breastfeeding relationship. It is most likely that you will have an easy and straightforward breastfeeding experience but it is also very possible that you may stumble across a few hurdles on your way. With only 10% of Irish mums continuing to breastfeed after four months it is clear that our support networks are somewhat lacking. 55% of Irish mums start off feeding their babies with their own milk but somewhere along the way the journey becomes too difficult – this is where your local community pharmacist comes in! We are here to advise you and support you when things seem tough and can direct you to amazing organisations like Ciudiu and La Leche League for further guidance.
There is no official preparation needed for breastfeeding but some mums like to try to ‘toughen up’ their nipples by rubbing them with a damp facecloth in the weeks before the birth. Hospital bag essentials for me would include Lansinoh nipple ointment (available here ) and Multimam compresses (available here) which are just the ultimate in terms of relief from sore cracked nipples which often occur in the early days. Please be reassured that these pains and problems do not generally last longer than the first couple of weeks – if you have pain on breastfeeding please talk to your Pharmacist, Lactation Consultant, Public health nurse or GP – we are all here to help you.
I also wouldn’t go into hospital without having packed some breast pads (available here) as leaky boobs is common in the early days – even during pregnancy in many cases. I love the Lansinoh pads as they are individually wrapped and have good adhesive to keep them in place. Avent night time pads are also excellent and a little more absorbent for those times when you’re hopeful for a few hours sleep! The Lansinoh latch assist is great at helping sort out flat or uncooperative nipples by using suction to draw it out which allows your baby to get a better latch. I would also recommend investing in a good breastfeeding pillow, some good books and an entertaining TV subscription! Don’t underestimate how much time you just sit and feed your baby – try to enjoy this time and go with it rather than making yourself busy – these are precious moments you will cherish in your thoughts in the future. I’d also highly advise having a strong support network around you – whether it’s family, friends or online groups -support is absolutely essential!
There are some other items available for new mums which can be helpful for breastfeeding such as nipple shields and shells – to be honest I would avoid nipple shields if you don’t need them as they can have a negative effect on milk supply and can take some of the convenience away from the breast feeding journey! You can read my blog on these products here!
Remember to prepare for lots of skin to skin cuddles and many hours of continuous feeding in the early days – I think as Mums we have a lot of pressure to achieve so much on a daily basis when really all of the chores, housekeeping and visiting can be shelved for a few weeks to allow you and your newborn time to cuddle, bond and establish you milk supply.
I hope you have found this info helpful and as always if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch through the WonderBaba facebook page by private message – http://www.facebook.com/wonderbabacare or phone me at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262!