So you are expecting a baby. Congratulations! If you are reading this article, you might be thinking about breastfeeding. That’s great!
Learning as much as you can about breastfeeding before your baby is born can help you get breastfeeding off to a great start.
Breastfeeding is natural, but it is also a learned skill for mothers.
As with all new skills, it can take some time to get the hang of.
You might have heard various comments from other mothers, such as:
“My milk dried up, just like that”
“My baby fed all the time”
“It was so painful”
“It was exhausting”
“There’s so much conflicting information”
You might be worrying about what all this might mean for you.
Being fully informed with up-to-date information is important preparation for breastfeeding. Mothers who are fully informed and feeling supported are more likely to meet their breastfeeding goals, whatever they might be.
10 Best Breastfeeding Tips For Pregnant Women
Here are ten top breastfeeding tips to help inform you about what to expect:
#1: You’ll Most Likely Worry About Your Supply
Most mothers are able to make plenty of milk for their babies. In spite of that, one of the main reasons why mothers cease breastfeeding is due to their worrying about breastmilk supply.
Knowing various things before the first breastfeed can help you establish a good breastmilk supply. Read here to find out what these things are.
To determine whether or not you have enough milk, it’s important to look at the reliable signs (i.e. your baby’s growth, poos and wees), rather than the unreliable signs (e.g. how much you can or cannot express, your baby’s behaviour, or how your breasts feel).
If you have a low supply, there are things that can be done to increase it.
#2: Your Newborn Will Have Unsettled Periods
It’s normal for babies under 3 months to have one or two unsettled periods every 24 hours. Unsettled periods tend to reach a peak around 6 weeks. They begin to reduce around 2 months, and then become infrequent to non-existent around 3 months.
During unsettled periods a baby will often:
- Cry a lot. He might even cry after a breastfeed
- Have difficulty settling to sleep, or sleep only for a short periods of time
- Cluster feed (i.e. have a series of short feeds close together)
- Make facial grimaces
- Go red in the face
- Arch his back
- Bend his knees up to his chest
It’s not known exactly why young babies have unsettled periods. It might have something to do with their immature digestive or central nervous systems. Because babies tend to cluster feed during unsettled periods, they could be ‘tanking up’ on higher fat/higher calorie breastmilk to prepare for a longer sleep.
For some tips about how to calm your baby during unsettled periods read here.
#3. There's A Good Chance You'll Experience Sore Nipples – But It Gets Easier
Many mothers experience nipple pain in the early weeks but go on to breastfeed for many months, or even years.
Many mothers experience nipple pain that ceases after the initial attachment. If you feel pain after your baby first attaches to your breast, or if you notice any signs of nipple damage (e.g. cracks, blisters, or bleeding), call an Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) counsellor and/or see a lactation consultant. The main cause of sore nipples is sub-optimal positioning and attachment.
Here are some tips to help prevent nipple pain.
#4. You Will Be Tired
Regardless of how your baby is fed, you will be tired. Very tired. But it gets easier.
A baby’s circadian rhythm (or body clock) doesn’t begin to emerge until he is 2-3 months of age. This means that before this time, your baby doesn’t know whether it is daytime or night-time, and the lack of any pattern to his sleep reflects this.
From around 2-3 months however, many babies begin to have their longest stretch of sleep more consistently at night-time – often during the first part of the night. In that case, it helps if you can get off to bed early too.
It’s a common myth that if you are formula feeding or mixed feeding you will get more sleep than if you are exclusively breastfeeding.
On the contrary, research indicates mothers who formula feed or mixed feed actually get less sleep overall than mothers who exclusively breastfeed. Research also shows that it generally takes longer to get back to sleep. It appears that the lack of normal physiological processes (e.g. higher prolactin levels) when not exclusively breastfeeding mean that the quality of a mother’s sleep can be reduced.
Here are 6 things to do when you need more sleep.
#5. You (Or Your Partner) Will Change Lots Of Nappies
A good sign that your baby is getting enough milk is he will poo a lot. Young breastfed babies in particular can poo very often (sometimes more than 8 times every day). This means plenty of nappy changes.
The good news for breastfeeding mothers is that a breastfed baby’s poo typically smells a lot nicer than a formula fed baby’s poo.
Here is some information to help you decide which type of nappies to use.
#6. You Might Receive Conflicting Information
Many mothers receive a great deal of conflicting information, which is a source of great frustration. The good news is that you are less likely to receive conflicting advice if you contact the ABA, or see a lactation consultant.
However, if you do get conflicting advice, remember to trust your instincts. Try to figure out what advice feels right and go with that. Remember, you know your baby better than anyone else.
#7. You Might Receive Incorrect Information
It is important for health professionals to be appropriately trained to provide breastfeeding support and accurate, up-to-date, and evidence-based breastfeeding information.
However, research indicates that many health professionals fall short when it comes to their knowledge about breastfeeding. There is a need for a better framework for educating many health professionals about breastfeeding.
It helps to be savvy about whom you consult for help with breastfeeding. Seeing an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant or calling an ABA counsellor are both good choices.
#8. You Will Feed Your Baby A Lot
It’s common for exclusively breastfed babies to feed from the breast 11 times in 24 hours (the range is 6 to 18). There is a wide range of normal when it comes to the feeding patterns of breastfed babies, and it is common for patterns to change – even within a 24-hour period. Most babies feed from one breast at some feeds and from both breasts at other feeds. However, some always feed from both breasts and others always from one breast.
The important thing is for a baby to be fed whenever he is showing feeding cues. This will ensure he gets the number of feeds he needs and, therefore, the amount of milk he needs, provided he is feeding effectively.
#9. You'll Realise The Importance Of Support
Soon enough you’ll discover that life with a new baby is very challenging. Each day can feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Support (e.g. from family and friends) will perhaps become more important than ever before.
From a breastfeeding perspective, joining the ABA and going along to local ABA meetings are great ways to socialise with other mothers who are going through, or who have already been through, the same things you are experiencing. Support is very important to get breastfeeding working well.
#10. You Might Develop A Deeper Appreciation Of Your Mother
Being a new mother can help you better realise what it might have been like for your mother as she was bringing you up. For some mothers and daughters, the experience can bring them closer together.
As Sophia Loren said, “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”