NURTURING YOUR BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY: PREPARING AND SUPPORTING YOUR
BODY AND BREASTS
BY KERRIE ADAMS - Breastfeeding Consultant (IBCLC) and Midwife
Breastfeeding is a beautiful and intimate way to nourish and bond with your baby. However, the journey can come with its share of challenges and uncertainties. To ensure a smooth and fulfilling breastfeeding experience, it's essential to prepare your body and mind during pregnancy and equip yourself with helpful tips and techniques.
Let’s explore how to prepare and nurture your body and breasts during pregnancy, what to expect in the first days and weeks after birth, and how to support your breasts during this stage. We will also share ten essential tips for a successful breastfeeding journey, including the importance of hydration, self-care, and a balanced diet. Lastly, we'll discuss managing oversupply and undersupply issues with massage as a valuable tool.
PREPARING DURING PREGNANCY
During pregnancy, your body undergoes significant changes to prepare for breastfeeding. To nurture your breasts and body during this time, focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Stay hydrated, eat a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients, and consider gentle breast massage to promote circulation and comfort. Attend breastfeeding classes to learn valuable techniques and get familiar with the process.
THE FIRST DAYS AND WEEKS AFTER BIRTH
In the first days after birth, you and your baby will embark on your breastfeeding journey together. It's normal for both of you to take some time to establish a rhythm. Quite a few weeks actually. Ensure skin-to-skin contact with your baby as soon as he/she is birthed into the world. This is a crucial factor in the establishment and mogevoty of your breastfeeding journey. Keep this going through your postpartum as it promotes bonding and stimulates breastfeeding and correct latch. Allow your baby to nurse frequently, as this will help establish your milk supply. There is no need to time feeds, just feed lots and eventually your supply will be established and feeds will slow down in frequency if everything is well.
BREAST SUPPORT AND BODY CARE
Support your breasts during the early postpartum days with a comfortable nursing bra if you wish but one that doesn’t cause too much restriction as blood, lymph and milk all need to flow freely. Definitely avoid underwire bras as they might cause discomfort and restriction.. Applying warm compresses before nursing can help ease engorgement, while cold compresses can alleviate swelling. Practicing good posture and back support during breastfeeding can also prevent back pain.
Learn about gentle breast and lymphatic massage and a product that can support this, this is generally a good wellbeing tip for your life as well as preparation for breast feeding. It really helps us get to know our bodies ready for our baby coming!
Mastitis is a painful inflammation of the breast tissue, and preventing it is crucial. Ensure proper latching and positioning during breastfeeding to prevent milk stasis and encourage drainage. If you experience any symptoms of mastitis, such as redness, pain, or flu-like symptoms, seek medical advice promptly.
There are some wonderful homeopathic remedies that can prevent mastitis from occurring when you see redness appearing such as poke root (phytolacca) and also Belladonna when mastitis has actually taken hold. Ask your holistic IBCLC for guidance or a homeopath - you can have these remedies at home before your baby arrives as they come in handy for other things including fevers etc as your child grows!
See our article on Mastitis here.
TOP TEN TIPS
FOR A SUCCESSFUL BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY
Drink plenty of fresh water and herbal teas to stay hydrated, as it is essential for maintaining a healthy milk supply - you will feel really thirsty!
Take time for yourself to rest and relax. Breastfeeding can be demanding, so self-care is vital to recharge and maintain your well-being. Lying down breast-feeding can be an excellent way to do this. Enrol your community in helping you to do other tasks in the home where you can so you can focus purely on you and your baby. Learn breathing techniques so you can help yourself relax. Stress affects breastfeeding, so it's good to have techniques up your sleeve.
3. BALANCED DIET
Eat a nourishing and balanced diet, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, organ meats if you can, warming foods like stews to support your body's needs. A well nourished mother is more likely to produce the breastmilk she needs for her baby.
4. PROPER LATCHING
Ensure a deep and proper latch during breastfeeding to prevent discomfort and support efficient milk transfer. Learning the basics antenatally improves the likelihood of breastfeeding successfully.
5. SEEK SUPPORT
Don't hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant or support group for guidance and encouragement. Ideally you would seek education prenatally to prepare and also get to know her so that postnatally you have someone on hand who also knows you.
6. BREAST MASSAGE
Gentle breast massage can help improve circulation, relieve engorgement, and promote milk flow. Do this with a beautiful product that can promote your wellbeing with essential oils and natural ingredients only that are safe for your body and baby.
7. FEED ON DEMAND
Allow your baby to feed on demand, as it helps establish a strong milk supply and supports your baby's growth. Mother led strict routines can create plugged ducts, mastitis and also undersupply.
8. AVOID PACIFIERS EARLY ON
Delay introducing pacifiers until breastfeeding is well-established so that the supply is regulated appropriately. Babies need their sucking energy for the breast in the early days, it's best to follow them and assume hunger cues are actually that.
9. BREASTFEED IN DIFFERENT POSITIONS
Experiment with various breastfeeding positions to find what works best for you and your baby.
10. BE PATIENT AND PERSISTENT
Breastfeeding is a learning process for both you and your baby. Be patient and persistent, and don't be too hard on yourself.
WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH
MANAGING OVERSUPPLY AND UNDERSUPPLY
If you experience a true oversupply, you can try block feeding – nursing on one breast for multiple feedings to reduce milk production. Cold compresses and cabbage leaves can also help ease discomfort.
To address undersupply, nurse more frequently, and consider pumping after feedings to stimulate milk production. Herbal supplements like fenugreek and blessed thistle may also boost supply.
For optimal management of either of these hurdles consult with a lactation focused professional who specialises in breastfeeding as there can be things going on that the untrained eye simple cannot see and solve.
Breastfeeding can be a beautiful journey however it requires preparation, dedication, and support. By nurturing your body and breasts during pregnancy, embracing self-care, and following essential tips, you can create a positive and fulfilling breastfeeding experience for both you and your baby. Remember that each breastfeeding journey is unique, and seeking professional guidance when needed can make all the difference in overcoming challenges and enjoying this special bonding experience with your little babe.
ABOUT KERRIE ADAMS
Hi my name is Kerrie.
I am a Breastfeeding Consultant (IBCLC) and former Midwife of twenty years. I live in the Gold Coast Australia with my partner & two young children.
I am here to help you solve your breastfeeding hurdles.
I believe that the mother baby relationship is the most important one of all. Its closeness and togetherness shapes us and also the society around us. Breastfeeding is a huge part of this relationship and it is to be nurtured, because its not always an easy skill to master!
I prefer a hands off non interventional approach allowing you to learn with my gentle guidance. I give you the information and you can choose how to use it for yourself.
Together we will navigate the hurdles and work out a plan.
I have experience in all the possible breastfeeding problems including mastitis, under or oversupply, latch issues, tongue tie and much more besides.
Get in touch, Kerrie x