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Nurturing Your Breastfeeding Journey: Tips for Tired Moms

Breastfeeding can be one of the most natural, beautiful ways to connect and bond with your baby. But for some mums, it can feel anything BUT natural. For some, it can take weeks or months to get into a good flow with your breastfeeding. When you find it difficult to get into a groove with feeding the can cause a fair bit of anxiety, especially if your supply isn’t where it should be, the more stressed and anxious you feel about the feeding the more it can affect your supply – a cruel merry-go-round.

On average, it takes about 4-6 months to really find a comfortable flow with your feeding journey. I know this sounds like a long time, but like anything we master skills that we practice often and consistently and in the first few months of infancy your baby is growing and changing rapidly as are your hormones, supply and mental-emotional and physical health.

Please be kind to yourself and remember that you and your baby are both learning together.

Here are some of my tips for helping you with your supply on your journey to breastfeeding success.

FEED OFTEN – The quickest and most successful way to boost your supply is to feed more often. You may want to offer breastfeeding every two or three hours during the day for a few days, spend a couple of days skin-on skin or offer the breast as a comfort instead of the dummy when needed or whenever your baby shows any interest for a couple of days to help connect, de-stress and encourage you baby to feed and boost supply. To increase your supply, you will need to fit in more feeds than usual for YOUR BABY. Feeds do not need to be full feeds they just need to be more often.

OFFER TOP-UP FEEDS Another way that you can do this is to offer a full feed upon wake-up and a top-up feed about 20 minutes before their nap to make sure that they are not hungry during their nap time, those few minutes of extra nursing and cuddling a couple of times a day can be all you need to boost your supply to where it needs to be.

BE COMFORTABLE Being more comfortable will help your breasts let down more easily. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen moms hunched over and looking very uncomfortable while feeding because they’re trying to attach their baby and once they’re attached they suffer in silence in the uncomfortable position because their baby is attached. My recommendation is to get yourself comfortable FIRST before placing your baby on the breast- for me, I used to bunk myself up in the corner of the couch so that my back felt supported I then surrounded myself with cushions and brought my baby to my breast. when you are more comfortable and your baby is well-positioned, they are able to empty the breast more efficiently

POSITIONING Hold your baby close to your chest, and body, your baby’s mouth should be directly opposite your nipple. This makes it easier for your baby to take the breast. When offering the breast, just touch your baby’s lips with your nipple and wait for the mouth to open wide. Centre baby’s mouth over your nipple, guiding it over the tongue and pull the baby close against you so that a good mouthful of your nipple and areola (the darker area around the nipple) is in your baby’s mouth. If they don’t feel like they have latched well, take them back off and try again a good latch is vital for a good feed.

PAY ATTENTION to your baby when they’re on the breast – One of the best things that you can do for helping encourage your baby to feed well is to pay attention to their feeding, some babies may tyre quickly and some babies may be frequently just comfort suckling on the breast if you find that your baby is doing shallow light sucking on the breast when they’re due to be feeding try to encourage them to take a better feed by moving their limbs, massaging your breast by stroking it towards the nipple on all sides as baby feeds. Take care not to disturb the nipple in your baby’s mouth and encourage the letdown. You may need to take your baby off the breast to have a stretch and reattach to keep them feeding well. For some babies, they may prefer to drain the first breast before taking the second side, and for others they may like to swap frequently from side to side. Find your groove. But watch your baby when they are drawing milk out of the breast, you should notice the swallowing motion every few sucks. If not, they may only be shallow sucking.

NOURISH YOURSELF You can’t fill from an empty cup, a mum who’s living on toast, muesli bars and quick snacks is not going to be able to provide all the nutrients that they need to for their baby and themselves – a breastfeeding mom needs approximately 300-500 more calories per day. So make sure that you are taking time to nourish yourself with whole, real food. Try having some pre-made meals in the fridge and some healthy snacks beside your feeding chair. Make it a batch of lactation cookies for a quick snack or purchase some online. check out Pinterest for some great recipes and my recommendation would be to reduce the sugar in the recipe as most of the recipes can contain a lot of sugar. You can substitute with healthier sweeteners.

STAY HYDRATED As a nursing mother, you need to have about 16-20 cups of water a day. Although it is a bit of a common myth about drinking more water to increase supply, you need to drink enough water to quench your thirst and stay hydrated but don’t go overboard.

EXPRESS Love it or hate it expressing can help increase your supply whether you use a pump a Breast milk collection cup or hand expressing- expressing a couple of times a day will send a message to your breasts that you’re they’re needing to up their game and supply a little more milk. My recommendation is that you express after your baby’s first feed in the morning and in the evening once they have been settled down for the night if you can express more often than that great but if you can manage these two that would be fantastic.

SUPPLEMENTS & HERBAL REMEDY There are many supplements on the market to help lactating mothers I’m not going to recommend any in particular because that’s not my area of expertise so do your research and if supplements are something that you’re considering I would certainly suggest that it is in conjunction with all the above rather than a stand-alone Talk to your lactation specialist or doctor – if your supply is an ongoing issue or if it is causing you concern my recommendation is that you seek help to make sure that there are no underlying issues and that your baby is gaining weight well.

Herbal options that have been traditionally used to increase milk supply and can be purchased individually as supplements and teas are:

  1. Fenugreek: Known to boost milk supply, it’s available in capsules or can be brewed as a tea.
  2. Blessed Thistle: Often used in combination with fenugreek for enhanced milk production.
  3. Nettle: Rich in vitamins and minerals, it can help nourish both mom and baby.
  4. Red Raspberry Leaf: Supports the uterus and can help regulate hormones postpartum.
  5. Fennel: Known to increase milk production and can be consumed as a tea.
  6. Goat’s Rue: May stimulate mammary tissue and enhance milk supply.

For many mums, it can take up to six months to really find your groove with breastfeeding. Whether you choose to or if  you can successfully breastfeed or not please remember a well -FED baby is best; bonding cuddling in connecting with your baby will happen whether or not you can successfully breastfeed.

When working with clients and their little ones sleep I focus on their routine as a whole including their feeding. My goal is to help your thrive not just survive your first few parenting years. If you would like to know more about how Elaine can support you and your parenting journey check out the E-books or book a free intro-call today 

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