Breastfeeding · breastfeeding tips · Celebrating Breastfeeding · newborn

Celebrating Breastfeeding with 5 Top Tips

“I’m like Jesus, amn’t I Mammy?” my eldest son once said to me.  He must have been about four at the time. Puzzled as to what he could mean, I asked him where he got the idea. “I’m the firstborn son” he announced proudly. I had to try my best not to laugh. 

This year he is taking part in the local nativity play (not as Jesus). The play has been rewritten to appeal to the children of today. A couple of girls are checking their e-mail on Christmas Eve and get a message that Jesus has been born. They click on the link to see the photos of the baby and his parents and follow the events of the night on social media.

As we read the script for the play the “I’m like Jesus” quote popped back into my mind. Now, I’m taking an educated guess on this, but I would say that one thing that Jesus and my Number One certainly have in common is that they were breastfed. I mean no disrespect here, but what else could you do, in a stable, surrounded by animals, with no way to sterilise anything? Breastfeeding would have been Mary’s only option. Now that I think of it, the sheep would have come in quite handy. For warmth of course but also as an abundant supply of healing wool and lanolin for Mary’s nipples. 

As a fellow mother, I am very grateful that my firstborn was born into more pleasant surroundings and that I had a choice when it came to how to feed my baby. During my pregnancy, I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed. I hoped that things would go well and they did. I fed Number one for nine months, Number Two for ten and Number Three for thirteen months. We had our ups and downs throughout and as a result, I have learned a lot.

Here are my top five breastfeeding tips. I hope they help you as much as they did me:

1. Get informed – if the real estate mantra is location, location, location then the breastfeeding equivalent has to be information, information, information. One of the best bits of advice I got in my first pregnancy was from my mother. “Inform yourself about everything” she said, so I did. At the time I didn’t have any friends with babies to talk to about it. So I read up on breastfeeding, I talked to my ante-natal midwife, I spoke to my aunts (one a midwife, the other a former breastfeeding consultant) and found out as much as I could about what to expect. I know that actually breastfeeding and reading about it are two different things, but having a reasonable idea of what to expect is a great start.  
2. Buy the basics – while you are still pregnant, invest in some breastfeeding basics. I recommend you buy
 – at least one breastfeeding bra. For the right size, talk to an assistant in a maternity shop.
 – nipple shields. Not everyone needs them but they are not expensive and they do take some of the pain out of the first week. Pack them into your hospital bag.
 – a breastfeeding cushion. These U-shaped cushions are a lifesaver, especially with your first child. They support your arms and your back and help you sit in a more relaxed position while feeding.
 – a hand pump. These are also not too pricey and may come in useful if you are overflowing with milk and your baby won’t drink it all. If you get through the first three weeks, you may decide to upgrade to an electric pump. To be honest though, I breastfed three children and only needed to use the pump with the first. With my younger two boys, I only breastfed and never pumped. 
 – ointment for sore nipples. Another pretty cheap item but a total lifesaver in the first few weeks at least. Just buy it and pack it into your hospital bag. If you don’t need it, great. But you don’t want to leave yourself in a porition where you need it and don’t have it. Believe me. 
3. Eat and drink a lot and often. I cannot stress this enough. When my first son was 5 or 6 days old I was suddenly having trouble feeding after the first few days going really well. The midwife visited and tore strips off my husband for not feeding me properly! She told him I needed a hot dinner twice a day as well as morning and afternoon snacks, a good breakfast and lots of water, juice and herbal tea. From then on I stuck to that regime and was never short of milk again.
4. Rest – Again, I cannot stress this enough. You may think that you can get your old life back and be out and about when your baby is four days old. I know that I thought so. I went to do the groceries with my husband and my newborn, thinking to myself “I’ve only had a baby, I’m not ill”. I came home an hour later with back pain and and headache and thought I’d caught a cold. I hadn’t. I was in the early stages of an inflammation that could have proceeded to become mastitis. Luckily my midwife called around and sorted me out. Cold compresses, feeding the baby every last drop of milk despite the pain and LOTS OF REST, preferably bed rest, were the tips she gave me. Don’t think you can do everything. It is not good for you. Rest as much as you possibly can. Listen to me on this one. Please.
5. Set yourself up with a comfortable breastfeeding spot – My faveoutite place to feed my three newborns was in a straight-backed armchair in the living room with a low footstool under my feet, the coffee table and a shelf were both in easy reach, so I could put my drink down. I left a book there so I could read if the baby took a long time to feed and / or fell asleep after the feed. I was comfortable. Baby was comfortable. It worked for us. I may well work for you too. 

The code word for the Celebrating Breastfeeding Christmas Extravaganza is reindeer. 
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16 thoughts on “Celebrating Breastfeeding with 5 Top Tips

  1. Thanks Laura. Information is so important, isn't it? It can be scary taking everything on board, but so much better for you in the long run.
    I'm really excited about the play. Rehersals start on Saturday.

  2. A little handpump was an absolute GODSEND for me when my milk came through properly. The relief when I finally managed to pump the milk out was indescribable — the boys were good feeders but I needed to top up each feed too, to make sure they were getting plenty. Being able to express was brilliant and the electric one that I hired was nowhere near as good as the little handheld version!! #TwinklyTuesday

  3. I can't imagine breastfeeding twins. I know people who have done it and my God it is a lot of work, so well done you! Those little pumps are so handy to have on hand. My mum insisted on getting me one while I was still in hospital. At the time I didn't realise how useful it would be. Thank goodness for mothers (sometimes!).

  4. Here in the US, they will give you tubes of Lanolin cream for free in the hospital and they'll last you as long as you need. Great tips – I second keeping a book right by your nursing area. I think that's the only time I really read. I often remember books by who I was nursing when I read them! (I have 5 children.)

  5. Thanks Sian. Yes, the bra – you have to have a good fit or you'll end up uncomfortable, look oddly-shaped and may even end up with blocked ducts from the pressure of wires, etc digging in where they shouldn't.

  6. Great tips for breast feeders Fionnuala. I still remember finding myself trapped under a feeding baby unable to reach a drink or a book! When I read something on this subject I am always just really grateful to be out of that stage of life now. I think breastfeeding my first child contributed to PND and there is too much focus on the physical mechanics of it – some people really struggle with the psychological and emotional pressures and difficulties of it and that is not really something that can be fixed by a better latch unfortunately. Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout

  7. Your son's comment about being like Jesus really made me laugh. These are great tips for breastfeeding and I would agree with all of them. I invested in an electric pump early on as I did a lot of expressing while Jessica was in hospital and also expressed regularly with Sophie too – it was well worth the money for the amount of use it's had! Eating and drinking properly is very important – I would agree with you that you can't really stress the importance of this (and rest) enough. I had a big blip of struggling to feed when Jessica was two weeks old due to not looking after myself while she was in hospital and it made a huge difference once I did take the time to look after myself too. I'm quite certain that Mary would have breastfed too. Thanks for linking up to #ftmob 🙂

  8. Thanks Samantha. I was really lucky that things worked out well for me with all three children. But yes, a better latch (and that can be near impossible to achieve at the beginning) is not the solution to all problems.

  9. A lovely ending to your practical tips … a comfy breastfeeding spot … I definitely second that! Knowledge is definitely power with breastfeeding, though breastfeeding knowledge and breastfeeding reality don't always coincide perfectly. Thanks for sharing.
    #CelebratingBreastfeeding (Glad to finally be getting around reading and commenting)

  10. Oh I know, anything goes when you are trying to breastfeed. But having a good grounding in what should work and what will probably help if things go wrong is great to have.
    Thanks for stopping by.

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