Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world – it was what our breasts were designed to do and breastmilk provides the ultimate nutrition for our little ones. And yet less than a third of South African mothers breastfeed their babies in the first 6 months. That’s a very sad statistic but when you are the mom who is battling to breastfeed, it’s the last thing you need to hear – it just adds to the guilt. You see, when someone tells you that breastmilk is best for your baby and you cannot or do not breastfeed, you feel awful – every mom wants to do the best for their baby.
By far the majority of moms who do not breastfeed, had fully intended to do so but found that it was really hard and in time offered formula because their breastmilk was not satisfying their baby. For some of them, returning to work means that breastfeeding is difficult and so they move their babies onto formula sooner.
As an infant specialist and a mom who knows what it is like to battle to feed, these are my top tips:
- If you are pregnant, it is really worth preparing yourself for feeding
- Mentally prepare to slow down – a feed can take 40 minutes and there may be 8 feeds in a day – that’s a lot of sitting time.
- Try to watch a woman feed and learn from her – in generations gone by we would have seen women in our extended village family breastfeed from the time we were little.
- Source a good lactation consultant and have one session with her before birth so you have someone to call on as soon as the wheels fall off after the birth.
- On the day your baby is born, latch her properly (get help from the nurses) within 30 min of her birth.
- Start pumping with a good quality breast pump from early on – this ensures you have a bank of milk should you need it but also gets your breasts used to the pump before you return to work. Store the pumped breastmilk in the fridge or freezer.
- Maintain your health and hydration with Wonder Water (see recipe in Pregnancy Sense) – a dilute mixture that has Blackthorn berry elixir, rehydrate and rescue remedy – to sustain and relax you for feed times. And drink a lot!
Breastfeeding may be natural, but it does not always come naturally. These tips may be the secret to getting going on your feeding journey.