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Breastfeeding For First Time Mums

When I found out I was pregnant I was determined to have a solid try at every possible, and healthy motherhood experience so I was sure that the life I provided my son was the best I could offer.

One of the most daunting for me was breastfeeding.

I have heard so many stories, and statistics about mothers who had issues breastfeeding so either couldn’t, or stopped very early. I was nervous that I either couldn’t breastfeed which would make me feel like I was failing my son at something I should, at least, biologically, be able to do. Or I would find it so difficult, and physically demanding that I’d need to stop before the recommended duration to breastfeed, which is up to 12 months.

But I knew the benefits of breastfeeding far outweighed my fears so it was my responsibility to at least give it all my effort and part of that was equipping myself with as much knowledge, and the best equipment possible.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

Babies who are breastfed have a lower likelihood of necrotising enterocolitis, diarrhea, respiratory illness, middle ear infection, type 1 diabetes, childhood leukaemia, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and developing obesity or diabetes later in life.

Breastfeeding provides “protection for the infant against infectious diseases, including gastrointestinal illness, respiratory tract infections, and middle ear infections”. Plus, breastfed babies have enhanced cognitive development.

For the mothers who breastfeed, they have a faster recovery from childbirth, have a reduced risk of breast, and ovarian cancer in later stages of life, and reduced chance of maternal depression.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association states that “the breastfeeding relationship facilitates a close bond between mother and child and forms the basis of psychological health for the child’s entire lifetime.”

They also have stated that breastfeeding has major benefits to the economy, and the community. This is the nutrients within breastmilk benefit the short, and long-term health, and development of babies as well as to the health of mothers. As these individuals are healthy, it reduces the costs to the community, and health care system by reducing their rate of illness, and chronic diseases.

How long should you breastfeed your child if you can?

It’s recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council to exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first 6 months, and then breastfeed alongside food until they’re 12 months old. If a mother cannot exclusively breastfeed, or can partially breastfeed, the NHMRC’s Infant Feeding Guidelines recommends using a commercial infant formula until the child is 12 months old.

Do most women breastfeed?

In Australia, 96% of women breastfeed their infant after their birth but breastfeeding rates across Australia are declining. In NSW, only 72.6% of babies that were discharged from hospital after birth were being exclusively breastfed.

In a 2010 Australian study, only 4 in 10 infants were still being breastfed by 4 months of age. By 5 months, only 15% of infants were being exclusively breastfed. Then by 6 months which is the recommended milestone to stop exclusive breastfeeding, 4 in 10 infants were no longer receiving any breastmilk at all.

What are some possible issues that prevent breastfeeding?

Without even factoring the health conditions that physically prevent breastfeeding, breastfeeding is already hard work on a woman’s body, as well as has a major toll on mental health.

For many women it’s not an easy process, and numerous factors can result in getting the common side effects like sore, cracked, and/or bleeding nipples, or mastitis also known as a clogged milk duct which is extremely painful.

However, the top reasons for stopping breastfeeding before 6 months stated in the Australian National Infant Feeding Survey were poor attachment, not enough milk supply, and their baby not settling.

According to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), most women are capable of breastfeeding. In very rare uses, some women may not produce a lot of milk due to an Insufficient Glandular Issue, postpartum hemorrhage, retained placenta, past breast surgeries, sleepiness, infrequent feeds which meant the milk supply hasn’t been built up (but not that it can’t be built up), or poor attachment.

What’s in my breastfeeding cart?

My breastfeeding cart was organised by myself to be carted around to each room depending where I choose

The top level has my Pigeon Go Mini Double Electric Breast Pump, breast milk storage bags, milk saver pump, breast pads, a hair claw clip, nipple shields, and a drinks tumbler so I can stay hydrated through the roughly 30-60 minute feeding session.

The middle level has some different dummies in a container, the other Pigeon breast pump attachments in a container, Pigeon bottles for newborns (the other bottle sizes in our baby cupboard in the kitchen), covers for the hot/cold breast gel pads (the pads in the freezer), nipple cream (to try prevent chapped nips!), as well as belly butter, belly oil, magnesium cream, foot balm, and hand wipes.

The bottom level has some different snacks that help with the quality, and volume of breast milk, postpartum bands, burp rags, and baby wipes.

How was my first breastfeeding session?

I gave birth on the 2nd of March to my son, and an hour after the surgery I was able to breastfeed him for the first time. He was a small baby in the 22nd percentile, his eyes were open, and he was quietly just watching us.

The lactation specialist at the private hospital where I gave birth was present, and ran through some tips on how to hold him, how to get him to latch, and the correct positioning of him to my breast. As soon as I held my son to my breast he immediately latched on with a deep latch and I breastfed him for 45 minutes total: 15 minutes on one side, and 30 minutes on the other.

It didn’t hurt at all, and it was peaceful just to watch him, especially when he literally hugged my breast during then fell asleep.

When it was all over I was in awe that not only I made that baby but also my body can make the only food he needs for the first 6 months of his life.

What are my breastfeeding sessions like with my son?

They’re all quite similar to the first session, and last 20 minutes each.

He latches on immediately, and thankfully, with a deep latch so I don’t have aching nipples during or after. The pediatric staff have said that he is probably one of the fastest latching babies they’ve seen because he has absolutely no hesitation latching, does a deep latch, and stays latched for the entire session until he’s full.

My husband also supports me by massaging me during, and preparing the breast pump for use after. While I am lucky to have an easy latching baby, I have had really aching breasts because they were so full of colostrum. My milk “came in” after 5 days so I used my Pigeon breast pump on a high setting which pulled those clogged milk ducts, and finally relief!

I breast pump about every 4 hours which is an hour after the breastfeeding session, and do regular breast massages to prevent clogged milk ducts, and help with the upcoming feed.

What are my breast pumping sessions like?

About an hour after a breastfeeding session I do 30 minutes of breast pumping using my Pigeon Go Mini Double Electric Breast Pump. For the first week after childbirth I was producing colostrum which I’ve been storing in either:

  • colostrum collector vials labelling with day or night plus the date, and freezing for future use when he’s sick because colostrum is rich in nutrients.

  • Breastmilk storage bottles, and refrigerating them to use as a top up after the breastfeeding session.

Now my milk has come in, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of milk being pumped out.

I put my breast pump in my breast pumping bra or dress so I have my hands free, sit back with either my phone or a book, and pump. Most sessions I make around 150ml per breast.

My must haves other than the pump is a nice snack, and water on hand.Some snacks I really enjoy while pumping are almonds, and macadamias as they actually help with increasing breastmilk supply!

What bottle do I recommend for newborn babies?

My son loves the Pigeon bottles! Prior to my hospital stay for the birth, I had researched the best baby bottles to buy, and had 4 brands on hand in our home so we could test to see which he’d prefer. Many mums recommend just getting one bottle of a few brands so you can see what your baby likes best. Thankfully, we learned my son loves the Pigeon bottles we had bought for home as the hospital also uses Pigeon bottles for their Special Care Nursery which is where my son was kept for the first few days.

We had absolutely no issues with feeding his top ups using Pigeon bottles, and I love knowing the brand is also used in this hospital even for babies that need that extra attention at birth.

This article has been sponsored by Pigeon. All opinions, and experiences stated are my own.


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