When pregnant, many women write a birth plan, prepare a nursery, arrange a plan for going back to work, and hash out plans for nappies, and sleeping arrangements. We plan who will be at the birth, who will visit and when, what to pack for hospital…
So many mothers have said “I’d like to breastfeed, but I understand it might not work out, so I’ll buy (bottles/formula/formula accessories) just in case.”
And then at the first sign of trouble, shrug their shoulders and switch. Or at the first suggestion of weaning from a doctor. I did that, at 2 weeks with my first daughter. Then feeding became a nightmare, and I wish we’d never switched.
So with my second, I stuck to it, and 9 months on we’re still breastfeeding. And it’s great!
Did you know only 14% of babies are breastfed after 6 months in Australia, yet the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding until AT LEAST 2 years.
So what can you do to ensure you succeed at maintaining a breastfeeding relationship?
- Be positive. Just say, “I’m going to breastfeed” and leave it at that. The ‘f’ word need not be included in that sentence and you don’t need to mention any what ifs or any plans for if it doesn’t work. Plan to fail, and you probably will.
- Ban bottles, formula, and dummies from your home. Many people suggest introducing a bottle ASAP if you’re planning on going back to work or else baby won’t take it. If you introduce a bottle too early that might be the only thing he wants to feed from, so don’t run the risk. Having formula in your home increases your chances of switching to formula full time, you can always duck down to the store if you need it so don’t buy it just in case. Dummies can cause nipple confusion, try not to give them until at least 6 weeks when breastfeeding is established. Remember newborns feed a lot during the early weeks, this is normal. Spacing out feeds is not usually a good idea, breastfeeding is more then just nutrition, it’s thirst quenching, it’s comforting, breastmilk has hormones to induce sleep.
- Ban the baby trainer. Tizzie Hall, Gina Ford, Ezzo… I could name a whole bunch of them. Anyone telling you to only feed at specific times or else you’ll ruin the routine is a potentially a detriment to your breastfeeding relationship. More feeds means more milk means more weight gain.
- Stress less! Just feed your baby. Day or night. Pretty soon they’ll spare out their feeds on their own, think of every feed as another chance to snuggle.
- Accept help and focus on feeding. The housework can wait, the washing will still be there, but you only get one shot at getting breastfeeding right.
- Make breastfeeding part of the plan. Many mums plan the birth, and then forget about the rest. Here is a breastfeeding plan to print out and complete.
- Birth at home, if not at home birth naturally!. While not essential, and certainly you can build a strong breastfeeding relationship without it, a natural birth gives your body that perfect hormonal cocktail to kick start your breastfeeding relationship. A natural birth also means a shorter hospital stay, generally a better recovery and if you hire a doula or independent midwife, better post natal care once you’ve gone home. Better yet, at a homebirth you won’t be restricted in your ability to breastfeed straight away, you can have instant skin to skin, you won’t be separated for your baby to be weighed or whatever, and your hormones won’t be suppressed by hormone injections, pain killers or surgery. Don’t forget whether you’re at home or in hospital Baby Led Attachment is best. I did this with my son who was in the High Dependency Unit of the Neo-natal intensive care, so it’s not just for healthy term babies born vaginally.
- Don’t listen to negativity. Surround yourself with supportive positive people.
- Watch a woman breastfeeding, and surround yourself with breastfeeding mothers. If you don’t know anyone who is breastfeeding, join online communities, and watch breastfeeding videos on YouTube. Join the ABA and attend a meeting. Take a breastfeeding class.
- Read, read, read. There are plenty of online resources, communities, books, newspaper articles, pamphlets… just read whatever you can get your hands on about breastfeeding and just read it. Soak it in.