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How to Plan for Postpartum
A Quick Guide to Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding may be the next natural step after birth but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, many mothers admit that it took them 6 – 8 weeks to establish a good breastfeeding rhythm and often, there’s a lot of hurdles before you get to that easy feeding stage.
Support and persistence is essential but there’s also so much about breastfeeding that may come as a surprise (but is also incredibly charming…perhaps even magical!). This quick guide to breastfeeding may fill in some of your knowledge gaps and will hopefully encourage you to actively prepare for your feeding journey.
Learn about breastfeeding
What prompts your body to make milk, how your baby encourages more milk production, what a good latch looks like and what you can expect in the first days and weeks post-birth.
Understand the benefits of antenatal expressing
Most women spend under two hours with their care provider during pregnancy, hence you need to be proactive with your birth education. Many midwives and obstetricians sing the praises of antenatal expressing but it’s not something that often gets discussed. Raise it with them, ask if you’re a suitable candidate and get to know your breasts and nipples while you express.
Find a local lactation consultant (LC)
Having the name and phone number of a local and recommended LC on hand for the first few weeks and months of feeding (when problems are most likely to arise) is very comforting.
Organise a basket of breastfeeding essentials
For beside the bed and the lounge so they’re within easy reach. Think a water bottle with straw, snacks, a night light, wipes and burping cloths.
Plan for postpartum and breastfeeding
Breastfeeding requires perseverance and patience, support and encouragement. Prioritise rest, hydration, warmth and skin on skin daily. And remember: keep distractions and stressors to a minimum.
When your newborn won’t stop feeding (or feeds for 45 minutes, naps for 15minutes, then feeds again), this is called cluster feeding. It’s a normal, healthy and expected stage in your breastfeeding journey.
Cluster feeding is when your baby feeds frequently and for longer periods and they do it for two main reasons:
It’s important to note that breastfeeding isn’t just about feeding; your baby is comforted and soothed by breastmilk because it contains so many settling and calming hormones. Your breast is also a warm place and one they know well; it’s here that they can tune in to the rhythm of your breath and the beat of your heart, just like they did in utero.
When your baby is breastfeeding, her saliva enters your body through the nipple and tells your body exactly what it needs. Breastfeeding is a private conversation between mother and baby where your baby asks and promptly receives what they need. It’s really quite amazing.
The composition of breastmilk changes in response to your baby’s saliva; if pathogens are detected, your body creates antibodies to fight the infection and those antibodies travel through breast milk back into your baby. The same goes for nutritional composition; breastmilk changes every day, according to the specific, individual needs of your baby. Your breastmilk is an ever changing, bespoke recipe that’s guided by your baby’s nutritional and immunological needs.
A guide to inspire pregnant women to prepare for their breastfeeding journey.
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