Breastfeeding - it’s not always a walk in the park.
We caught up with Clinical Midwife Specialist, Heather and Naturopath and Director of Franjo’s Kitchen, Jo, to chat about their tips for getting the most out of your milk supply.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
Heather: It’s a really massive list, so for the sake of today’s discussion, I’ll give you a few that are really important. It really is about development and lifelong health for our babies:
- Breastfed babies generally have less tummy troubles
- Reduction in overall infections - mums transfer antibodies while breastfeeding
- Reduction in allergies including asthma and food allergies
- Reduction in the rates of SIDS
Some of the benefits for mum include:
- Reduced risk of developing certain types of cancers including breast and ovarian
- Reduced risk of developing osteoporosis
- Reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- There’s no washing up!
- It’s free and you always have a meal packed and ready to go!
What are your tips for establishing successful breastfeeding patterns?
Heather: Like any new endeavour, the more preparation you can do, the better. Try and get yourself along to a breastfeeding education class before you have your baby in your arms, either through the hospital you’re birthing at or through the Australian Breastfeeding Association. The more information you can get, the better.
Once you have bub in your arms, use your resources - talk to your midwives while you’re in hospital. It can be a tricky dance between mum and baby. Babies are instinctively driven to get on the breast, whereas for mums it’s a learned skill. Let your baby set the tone.
What are some techniques to ensure baby is latching on correctly?
Heather: Latching is one of the biggest keys to breastfeeding success. One of the most important things in achieving good attachment is making sure baby is as close to you as possible - chest to chest, tummy to mummy.
There are lots of positions you can hold your bub in while breastfeeding, so find whichever position works best for you, but try and make sure the back of their head is completely free. Resist the temptation to hold their head and instead support them across their shoulders to they can tip their head back and drink.
Line baby’s nose up with where your nipple naturally falls and guide baby on once they have a wide open mouth. You’ll know baby is attached properly when they’re comfortable, they’re attached like a vacuum seal, their chin is tucked into the chest and there are rhythmic jaw movements.
How many times a day should I breastfeed?
Heather: Often we hear that babies need to be fed every three to four hours, but this tends to be for babies who are bottle fed or are in the special care nursery. For our well-termed newborn bubs, we let them set the schedule.
We aim for at least six feeds in a 24 hour period, but it will most likely be around eight to 10 feeds. Sometimes even up to 12!
Newborns don’t follow a strict schedule with breastfeeding - they might have a couple of feeds close together, then a big break or they might cluster feed towards the end of the day. As long as they’re having at least six feeds per day, that’s fine.
A feed can take anywhere from five minutes to an hour, depending on the age of the baby, what stage they’re at and what their nutritional needs are.
No mother and baby pair is exactly the same. You’ll know what’s right for you and your baby.
How do I know if baby is getting enough milk?
Heather: This is a bit of a leap of faith for mums, but what goes in must come out and plenty of wet and dirty nappies is a good indication that bub is getting enough breast milk. Another good indication is weight gains.
How important is diet when it comes to breastfeeding?
Jo: When we eat well, we feel great and when we have a newborn baby it does put on extra demand for us, so we need to be quite conscious of that.
It’s easy to say and more difficult to do, because as new mothers the last thing we’re thinking about is ourselves!
For us to be the best mother to our child, we need to be looking after ourselves. I encourage anyone to get the word out about foods they really love to friends and family before giving birth. We don’t need 10 lasagnas turning up at the door!
Key things that I tell new mums is that after giving birth we really want nourishing, warming, grounding foods. We don’t want to be drinking ice cold green juices. Our body has just gone through a major episode of giving birth and really needs nourishing food. Slow cooked foods and things like porridges, oats, brown rice, root vegetables, good protein and legumes are great.
It’s also important to keep your fluids up!
What can mums do from a diet perspective to increase their milk supply?
Jo: Consistency is key. You want to be eating every three to four hours to sustain yourself and make enough milk.
There are also some amazing foods that have been used for hundreds of years that can help boost your supply and these foods are called ‘galactagogues’. Oats, brewers yeast, flaxseed meal, quinoa flakes, dill, fenugreek and fennel are just some of the foods and spices that have been used all over the world to increase supply.
Franjo’s Kitchen has developed a range of foods to help women increase milk supply that naturally contain galactagogues, including tanker toppers, muesli, crackers and biscuits. Women can eat these three to four hours before a feed to notice an increase in milk supply.
Of course be careful with galactagogues if you have mastitis - every mum is different.
How else can we boost supply?
Heather: It’s important to regularly empty your breasts, including over night. If our breasts aren’t being emptied, our body isn’t receiving the signal to fill them.
The more baby takes, the more mummy makes.
What can we do to support mums who are breastfeeding?
Heather: It takes a village - bring in your community!
Jo: Make sure you have the right people around you, people who are positive and move away from that negativity. There are amazing resources available and it takes a strong person to ask for help.
Heather: There are so many people in the same position and people have great ideas and suggestions!
Where are the best places to find support after you leave hospital?
Heather: You can speak to your maternal and child health nurse, a lactation consultant, the Australian Breastfeeding Association has 24/7 chat as well as local chapters where you can go and meet other breastfeeding mums.
You got this mama!
06 February 2019