When you find out you’re expecting a baby, there are lots of things to consider, an endless shopping list, a nursery to decorate and lots more. A common topic of conversation which almost always crops up is feeding; breastfeeding or formula?
We know that breastmilk is best for your baby but we won’t pretend that it is always plain sailing. There can be difficulties and challenges along the way and in today’s post we thought we’d share some common Q&A’s featuring some pregnancy tips for breastfeeding, as once you get the hang of it, it really is the best!
What can I do to prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy?
- Make sure you have a comfortable and supportive maternity and nursing bra, this is an essential for both pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Pop into a local breastfeeding support group to chat with other breastfeeding mums. Mum to mum support is essential and it is always great to learn top tips and advice from others who have experience breastfeeding first hand.
- Find out where the nice venues are locally to feed when out and about that support breastfeeding families
- Find and keep your local support group telephone number and the national helplines on the fridge so you have these to hand if you need them.
Chat with all your family members and tell them how important it is for you to get their support while you get breastfeeding established. Suggest ways that they can help with domestic chores, a few meals prepared in advance etc.You need a warm chain of support to help you to get breastfeeding off to a good start.
How soon after birth can I start expressing?
There are no clear guidelines for expressing only recommendations.
If a baby is unable to feed directly from the breast at birth because of prematurity, illness or not feeding well then you would be supported by your midwife and neonatal nurses to express.
Again, if you have breastfeeding difficulties in the first few weeks, you may need to establish and maintain milk supply
If you want to express for your partner to support you with feeds or a well-deserved night off, we would recommend waiting 3-4 weeks so that you can get lots of practice and get breastfeeding well established.
Can you exclusively express instead of breastfeeding?
It is your personal choice either to breastfeed, combine breast and expressing or exclusively express. If you empty, the breast frequently this is how the milk production is maintained. Whether you breast feed or express expect to feed 8-12 times in the first few weeks – it is normal for your baby to feed every couple of hours so you need to mimic this with expressing if you choose not to feed. You also need to do night time expressing – no longer than 4-5 hours between feeds at night.
You will need to explore purchasing a breast pump. The Swing Maxi Double Electric Beast Pump or the Symphony Hospital Grade Breast Pump are both ideal for exclusive expressing.
How long after birth should you wait before introducing a bottle to avoid confusion?
It is advisable to wait 4-6 weeks after birth to get your milk supply established and also get your three-week growth spurt under your belt so that you have enough milk to feed your baby on demand and to minimise over supply.
Using the Calma teat gives you a good starting point to introduce bottles to compliment your Breastfeeding.
Why is breastfeeding more painful in pregnancy?
Pregnancy hormones stimulate the growth of glandular tissue and you may experience hypersensitivity as the breasts adapt to pregnancy. Use nipple cream to support any soreness, check your baby’s latch and try different positions, it maybe that your baby is also teething. Check for any thrush or irritation too.
How to get pregnant when breastfeeding on demand?
What usually happens with breastfeeding is that you have something called lactation amenorrhea – this only occurs when you are breastfeeding frequently around 6 or more times a day and this suppresses the reproduction hormones oestrogen and progesterone. If you have a drop in frequency of feeds, then this activates the hormones and ovulation occurs. In some women even when they only have occasional feeds their periods don’t return until they stop feeding all together.
If you haven’t had a period, it doesn’t mean that you cannot get pregnant 100% and this is why many women choose not to use this natural method of birth control. If you are actively seeking to get pregnant you may want to drop back on a few breastfeeds or just let nature take its course.
How do the breast milk donation schemes work?
With regards to milk donor schemes these are regulated by the UK Association for Milk Banking (UKAMB) and if you go to their website they can give you advice on centres, screening and donations.
If you’re a mum-to-be and have a question about breastfeeding, visit our monthly Pregnancy Hour to ask Lactation Consultant, Sioned Hilton on the 2nd Tuesday of every month from 1pm – 2pm or visit our website here.