I’ve been breastfeeding Maia for two months now, and although that isn’t very long in the grand scheme of things, I’ve definitely done things a bit differently this time around. For those who have been around for a while, you’ll remember that my breastfeeding journey came to an abrupt end with Aria at about 4 months and although that I am of the very firm belief that fed is best, I would really like to make it to the 6 month, or even better, 12 month mark with Maia.
Breastfeeding does not come naturally to me, and it doesn’t feel natural to me either. To be honest, it’s really hard work those first few weeks and both of my girls had trouble sucking those first few days; they would latch beautifully but then that was it, they were such sleepy babies that they just wouldn’t suck. I’ve had so many DM’s and emails from women who have also said that breastfeeding wasn’t the walk in the park that they thought that it would be. So today I thought that I would tell you everything that I have done this time around to make breastfeeding a little easier (because it can still be challenging at times), and hopefully set a solid foundation for a longer breastfeeding journey.
Oh, make sure to stick around until the end for a great giveaway!
While I was pregnant: When I was pregnant with Aria, I just assumed that I would be able to breastfeed no problem, that I would pop Aria on my boob and all would be well with the world. Well now that I know that that is definitely not always the case, I really made an effort to educate myself as much as I could. I was lucky enough to be offered a partnership with Medela where they have sponsored me with a breastpump, but the most valuable part of the relationship for me, is the incredible amount of knowledge that the team has. When I went to go and fetch my pump, I asked so many questions about both my pump and how best to use it, but also about breastfeeding in general. Medela actually hosts workshops quite often which are really helpful (make sure to follow them on Facebook to keep up to date), but their US website is also a wealth of knowledge and often if I have a question, I can find the answers here.
Something else that I did that I think was very important is that I chose a pump that would work for me and my lifestyle. I work from home and am able to pump in a stationary spot 90% of the time, and so the Medela Symphony was the best bet for me. Medela has so many different options and there really is something for every need and budget.
The first few weeks: With Aria, I didn’t really know what I was doing (because I hadn’t really educated myself while I was pregnant), but with Maia, I had a better idea and had done my research. On the day that Maia was born and she, like Aria, wasn’t sucking, I didn’t waste any time, I called in a professional. Within a few hours, Maia was sucking like a pro and I felt so much more confident. I cannot stress this enough; if you are battling, get a professional in! Lactation consultants know what they are doing and they can give you incredible advice and techniques to help you.
The second thing that I did, was one of the most emphasised points from the Medela team: I made sure that I was feeding and pumping between 8-12 times collectively a day and I did this for a full month (although it is suggested that you do it for as long as you can). Doing this is essential to establish and then maintain your milk supply. It can be incredibly time-consuming, I won’t lie, but it built my freezer stash like a dream and it definitely helped to not only keep my milk supply up, but I am almost confident that it helped it to increase as well.
Another thing worth mentioning is that I made sure that I was supplementing in those first few weeks. I swear by the Mrs Milk Lactation Bars, not only are they packed with galactagogues to help increase your milk supply, they are also really filling which is so helpful in those early days when you just don’t have the time (or energy) to make a proper meal. Over and above that, I made sure that I was eating protein with each meal and that I had a decent portion of veggies (especially the green ones) once a day. A healthy and nutrient-packed diet helps with your milk supply but also your energy levels which are as important!
Last but not least, and this one is a biggie, but I drank water like it was going out of fashion, at least 2l a day. It seems like a lot but I usually finished 2l within a morning, no problem. The days that I was too busy to drink all my water were the days where I pumped very minimal amounts of milk.
The London Medela Symposium was held a week or so ago and I thought that it would be interesting to share a few of the insights that were passed along to me:
– Early and frequent pumping in the first two weeks is crucial to protect and establish your milk supply, especially if your baby isn’t able to feed, pumping is an absolute necessity to make sure that your milk supply doesn’t dwindle.
– Studies at hospitals in India and Japan show that pumping within the first hour after birth, as well as during the night help mom’s with low milk supply significantly.
– In the UK, 80% of new moms breastfeed and/or pump, by 6 months this drops down to 30% or less. Our stats in South Africa are even lower and a lot of this is due to moms not having the support or education that they need when it comes to breastfeeding.
If you feel that you don’t have that support or encouragement, I would highly suggest coming to the Medela Breastfeeding Bootcamp for Moms, there is one in all of the major cities. I’ll be at the Johannesburg one for sure!
I asked on my Instagram and Facebook stories if any of you had any questions and a lot of you did! They were all quite similar or in a similar vein which makes things a bit easier and so I’m going to answer them all below, unless I’ve already answered them in the first half of this post.
Q: What breast pump are you using and why?
A: I’m using the Medela Symphony simply because it’s the best in their “fleet” and because I work from home, using the Symphony is easy. It’s not a “mobile” pump so it’s not for everyone. I think I will swap over to a Swing Maxi at some point but for now I’m happy.
READ MORE: Breastfeeding made easy with Medela
Q: When do you have to start to “prep” your nipples for breastfeeding and how do you do it?
A: I didn’t! They were sore for maybe a week this time around and then everything was A-OK again.
Q: How do I increase/maintain my milk supply?
A: I did mention it in the first half of the post but I feel like this is is something that so many moms struggle with so I’ll here are my top three ways again: regular pumping (after every feed if possible, even if it’s just for 10-15 mins), at least 2l of water a day, and supplementation with something like the Mrs Milk bars.
Q: How did you sort out your sore and cracked nipples?
A: I only had pain because of bruised and slightly cracked nipples, I applied the Medela Purelan 100 once a day and within a week I was right as rain. Seriously, it’s a miracle product, I used it with Aria as well.
Q: What is your pumping routine”?
A: For the first month I pumped after every feed during the day. Now that my milk supply is pretty stable I only pump once a day. I worked out that I have the most milk in the morning so after Maia’s 6am/7am feed, I wait 20mins and then I pump for about 15-20mins. I get a full feed out and then freeze it.
Q: Why don’t you burp Maia over your shoulder?
A: It just doesn’t work for her, we have to bounce her on our lap to get a burp out. Aria never burped at all! Each baby is different.
Q: When did you start pumping?
A: I only started to pump when my milk came in which was the second night in hospital, take your breast pump to hospital people! I had to call my sister at 2am to bring mine to me because my boobs were so full.
ALSO READ: What to pack in your hospital bag
Q: How do you deal with a sleepy baby who falls asleep during a feed on the one side and then wakes up hungry 90mins later?
A: Oh gosh, Maia used to do this! Now what I do when she wakes up for her night feed is feed her on the one side, change her nappy to wake her up a bit and then feed her on the other side. Works like a bomb for us!
Q: What should I have in my nappy bag as a breastfeeding mom?
A: A nursing cover is a must for me. I have no problem with women feeding without them, I just personally don’t feel comfortable feeding without one in public, like a restaurant. I don’t even remember where I got mine from, to be honest, but a muslin blanket works well too! I also keep a spare shirt, nursing bra and set of breastpads in my bag… just in case.
Q: Are you feeding on demand?
A: Yes and no. During the day I feed every 3 hours, even if I have to wake Maia up. Of course, if she wakes up hungry before then, I feed her. After her last feed of the day at about 7pm, I don’t wake her up to feed. She generally only wakes up at 3am and then I wake her up for the day, with a feed at 7am. Maia is putting on weight really well and so my midwife has been happy for me to carry on like this, it’s a completely different story if your little one is struggling to pack on the pounds, then I would advise that you chat to your midwife or paediatrician.
Q: What foods are you avoiding while breastfeeding?
A: Not many to be honest but I have cut out lactose because it makes Maia cramp (Aria was the same). But other than that there isn’t anything I don’t eat. Obviously, I keep alcohol to a minimum if I don’t plan to pump and dump.
Q: How do you manage your wardrobe while breastfeeding?
A: I haven’t invested in a huge amount of breastfeeding specific clothing, but I have bought some items like wrap dresses that make breastfeeding easier. With the colder weather and me often wearing jeans, I just tend to yank my shirt up. I have a MamaMoo dress which I am obsessed with, and a little birdie tells me that their winter range is going to be fab! I have their breastfeeding nightie too and it’s wonderful.
Q: When should I stop my baby’s night time feeds?
A: This is a difficult one to answer since each baby is different. Aria stopped her night time feeds at 4 months and started sleeping through the night, but I have no idea if Maia will be the same. I do think that some babies often feed for comfort as opposed to hunger but I reckon it’s always a good idea to do your research and perhaps ask your midwife for advice. I knew Aria was only waking up for comfort/habitual feeds and wasn’t hungry and so we decided to sleep train at 4 months after doing a lot of reading up. That’s what worked for us at that time, but who knows if Maia will be the same!
Q: How do you store your breastmilk?
A: This article on breastmilk storage guidelines and tips by Medela is super informative and is the exact way that I go about things.
Medela and I would love to make one mom’s breastfeeding journey a little easier and so we are giving away a lovely little hamper with some must-have items: a box of breast milk storage bags, a box of Quick Clean bags which are so incredibly handy if you travel or need to sterilise at work/on the go, a box of breast pads and a tube of Purelan 100.
Here’s how to enter:
- Sign up to the Medela newsletter using this link
- Make sure you are following Medela on either (or both!) Facebook or Instagram
- Make sure you are following me on either (or both!) Facebook or Instagram
- Tag a friend in either this Facebook post or this Instagram post
The giveaway ends on Wednesday 24 April 2019 at 20h00.
Open to South African residents only.
Medela is responsible for sending the winners prize to them.
The winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize, failing which, a new winner will be drawn.
No spamming, it will result in disqualification.
* This blog post has been sponsored by Medela South Africa
All photos by Earth To Ali Photography
Breastfeeding nighty by MamaMoo