Welcome to The Mummylogues. A series dedicated to candid conversations, relatable tips and resources for navigating pregnancy and parenting. This edition gathers together the best advice for nursing mothers.
Breastfeeding is a beautiful journey albeit one fraught with its own set of challenges right from fine-tuning the fine art of a perfect latch with your newborn through to ensuring a steady supply of nature’s nutrition for your baby.
As a new mum, I’ve had my fair share of questions ever since nursing my baby with those first precious drops of colostrum; and so, I thought it would be helpful to collate here ten simple commandments of breastfeeding, drawing on both my personal experience and the invaluable expertise of qualified Lamaze Consultant, Dr Rita Shah, whose fitness programme I attended as an expectant mother.
1. You can start preparing before delivery
Keep your breasts moisturised through pregnancy to prepare for smoother breast-feeding from the start. Massaging extra virgin olive oil in light circular motions around the nipples twice a day after bathing, can help to keep them from drying out.
2. Nurse within the first hour of delivery
Bring your baby to your breast within the first hour of delivering, not only as the skin-to-skin strengthens your bond, but as the baby can smell the colostrum (first form of milk), with their sucking action activating the letdown reflex and initiating breastfeeding. The first hour is crucial, as it can be difficult to rouse most babies two hours later!
3. Getting a good latch
I won’t lie, the first few weeks can be the most difficult but with practice, your baby can perfect the latch if you make sure that they’re getting a deep hold (rather than just the nipple in their mouth).
Frankly, you can breastfeed in any position, but I’ve found that nose to nipple, belly to belly works best – if your baby’s tummy is touching your’s, they won’t need to turn their head to latch; and if your nipple is pointed to their nose (not at their mouth), they’ll automatically lift their head up, opening their mouth wide for a deeper latch.
Of course, it’s important for the baby to be comfortable to ensure they nurse smoothly. I find it helps when their feet is touching something, be it you or even a pillow wedged next to you. Make sure they don’t snooze at the breast; if they do, tickle the soles of their feet or the back of their ear!
4. Frequent shorter feeds are preferable in the early weeks
Frequent shorter feeds are actually beneficial in ensuring breast are sufficiently stimulated to develop a better milk supply. Not to mention, supporting a healthy weight gain in babies. Don’t be alarmed if your baby suddenly starts to demand milk more frequently (in clusters) for a period of time. Lasting a couple of hours at a time, this “cluster feeding” is completely normal especially during those precious early weeks.
5. Galactagogues, galactagogues, galactagogues!
Diet can make a huge difference in amping up your milk supply. While there are no dearth of lactation-boosting galactagogues, here are the few I found helped the most:
- Oats (great in porridge or even in a healthy twist on cookies)
- Dalia (cracked wheat; I often have it as a Mediterranean-inspired salad packed with cherry tomatoes, parsley, garlic and lots of olive oil)
- Ragi (finger millet)
- Gourd vegetables
- Shatavari (species of the asparagus plant)
- Sesame seeds (hello tahini!)
- Poppy seeds; almonds; dried coconuts (often consumed in ladoos, during my 40-day japa period)
- Moringa (try it in this deliciously-creamy smoothie bowl recipe)
6. Make sure you’re nourished too
If you don’t pay heed to your own health, exclusive breastfeeding can really take its toll on you, depleting all your essential nutrients. Keep a bottle of water with you while you’re feeding so you can stay hydrated.
Also make sure to speak to your doctor from the very start about which essential vitamin supplements you should be taking including for instance, calcium and Vitamin D.
If you’re worried about drinking caffeine as a breastfeeding mum, DON’T BE! You can drink caffeine, albeit in limited amounts with an upper limit of 250 – 300 mg a day. It’s good to bear in mind also that caffeine peaks around 2 hours after ingestion. Swipe right on the post below to see the caffeine quantity across your favourite brews.
8. Don’t stress!
This is easier said than done, especially in the time of Corona when new mums have plenty to constantly worry about. Do remember though that stressing can increase the level of hormones such as cortisol, dramatically reducing your milk supply in the process.
9. Pump, pump, pump
Pumping is a great way of “super-charging” your milk supply by fully draining the milk from your breasts and stimulating your body to make more. Pump after each feed, as well as first thing in the morning: if your baby has a good night’s sleep, chance are that you’ll wake up full of milk.
10. Essentials to keep on hand
While not a comprehensive list, these are just a few things you might find useful:
- Breast pump, preferably of hospital grade (Spectra ; Medela). There are also newer, trendier innovations such as Elvie which are more seamless and compact for modern day living
- Hands free pumping bra
- Moisturising cream to soothe nipple soreness (Lansinoh makes a great one)
- Good nursing pillow (I’d recommend My Brest Friend)
For more newborn essentials, you can always have a look at my longer list here.
About Dr. Rita Shah
Dr. Rita Shah is a qualified Lamaze Consultant, trained in prenatal and postnatal care from the United States. Dr. Shah has authored a book called“Nine Months” which has been published in English as well as 8 regional languages.
She is the Director of Nine Months, a fitness programme for expectant mothers. She has been conducting Lamaze classes for over 3 decades now, guiding over 30,000 pregnant women till date, including clients from over 30 countries across the globe. In the past, she has been the Head of Department of Prenatal and Postnatal care at Jaslok and Lilavati Hospitals in Mumbai.
Website: http://www.ninemonthspregnancy.com/about/dr-rita-shah/ | Instagram @ritashah_ninemonthspregnancy
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