Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Firstly, I just want to be brutally honest and say that in the first 2-3 weeks, breastfeeding is really hard. Just be prepared to persist – this is the key! My family friend Alexia told me to just persist whatever comes my way, and it was really great advice because I then knew that I had a few of weeks of breastfeeding bootcamp to get myself through– and I didn’t give up.

Picasso's beautiful painting 'Maternity'
Before I had Lyra, I was quite indifferent to people’s choice when it came to breastfeeding. I always thought it didn’t really matter. I just knew I would breastfeed, and didn’t consider the other option. We have so many different opinions thrown at us, its difficult to know what decision to make, and how beneficial breastfeeding really is in comparison to formula feeding. But I really believe that if you stick as close to nature as possible then you’ll be on the best track. 
Warrior Mother
Having done breastfeeding, I wouldn’t say I was a breastfeeding militant, but I’m definitely less indifferent. I would really recommend it – it’s honestly silly not to do it! There are so many benefits from so many different angles (practically, emotionally, health-wise). And each of these points alone is reason to do it.
  • It’s so convenient. You’ll understand this after a month (well, even after a couple of days) of washing, and then sterilising, bottles, and panicking when you forget a bottle on a trip out. How boring. What a hassle. So much easier to have a constant supply of sterile food literally on you all of the time.
  • It’s a detox. Breastfeeding for at least a year cuts breast cancer risk by a third. Research has shown that it also reduces the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers too.
  • It’s better than anything money can buy for your baby. Well, you can actually buy breast milk, but it’s almost worth its weight in gold. Forget the flash clothes and toys, you yourself will be producing one of the most sought after commodities – and for you, it will be free.
  • It can significantly reduce your risk of postpartum depression. In fact, the 'happy' hormones which flood your body whilst breastfeeding have so many emotional benefits for you and your baby. Get high on your own supply. 
  • It prevents your periods from returning, which saves much-needed iron in the body after birth, helping your recovery and preventing anaemia.
  • It burns calories, lots of calories. You lose a phenomenal amount of weight by doing practically nothing and eating like a horse. A non breastfeeding mother would have to cycle uphill for an hour a day, or swim at least 30 lengths - not quite what you fancy after giving birth. You can just lounge around and enjoy the time with your new baby.
  • Breast milk is full of antibodies which protect your baby against illnesses and boosts his/her immune system, which will last throughout childhood and later life. You don't find these at all in formula. If you get ill, your breast milk becomes full of the antibodies the baby needs to fight that same illness you have – its like the perfect medicine.
  • It protects your baby against allergies, something which lasts for their whole life.
  • It boosts your child’s intelligence. Breastfeeding is linked with higher IQ scores in children.
  • It protects your child from obesity in later life.
  • It lowers your baby’s risk of SIDS.
The bottom line is that I've discovered from experience that it would be almost criminal not to breastfeed when you have all of this available to you. Hmmm, maybe I have become a militant. 
Armed breastfeeding Sandinista Rebel 
Breastfeeding Problems: 
Painful nipples
As I mentioned, in the beginning it was pretty difficult. My problems were mainly due to it being painful. If you have problems in that department, try using a small amount of Lansinoh nipple cream (available in almost all pharmacies) and not wearing a bra as long as you can bear it. You can also try nipple shields (also widely available). The root cause of painful nipples though is when your baby isn't latched on properly. There are loads of support groups around who will help with this, even if you just visited once. If you don't have that luxury, try YouTube, there's loads of helpful, albeit slightly stuffy, videos on there. Like this one:

Increasing the milk supply
Your baby's early growth spurts will happen around weeks 2, 3 and 6. During these times, almost like clockwork, I suddenly felt like I was feeding around the clock and that she was super cranky and hungry. What's actually happening is that your baby feeds all the time in order to stimulate more breast milk to be produced. Here's my plan of action to get you through the growth spurts. 
  1. BE A COUCH POTATO. Get yourself a box set and tuck yourself away for a few days with lots of healthy food.
  2. DRINK LOTS OF FLUIDS. Drink lots of water. I found that drinking whole milk was good for me, but that might just be a personal thing. Fennel tea is also said to increase milk supply.
  3. DON'T FORGET TO EAT. You need a minimun of 1800 calories a day when you're breastfeeding.
  4. TIME IT. Feed every two hours, no more no less. This allows the nutrient rich milk to build back up before the next feed.
  5. FEED FEED FEED. Offer both breasts at each feed. Massage your breasts as you feed and keep your baby awake by tickling their toes. 
  6. KEEP BABY CLOSE. Allow the baby to suckle for as long as they want after feeding (or as long as you can bear it). This makes your body think there's not enough milk, and it will produce more milk for the next time. 
  7. PUMP. Using the breast pump for 5 minutes after your baby is finished has the same effect as suckling - it makes your body think that it needs to make more milk for a hungry baby. 
Happy Mum
I hope this is helpful to you. And if you're on the fence about breastfeeding then I hope this post has persuaded you to take the plunge! 

Supermodel Angel Miranda Kerr 

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