There is so much information online around breastfeeding and all kinds of slogans, like “breast is best” and its more generous friend “fed is best”.
We recognise that breastfeeding sets your baby up for life in a different way to baby formula, but know that each mum and each baby is different!
Read up on the guidelines from the Australian Breastfeeding Association
and then do what is best for you and bub.
Breastmilk and baby formula
Chances are you are going to get a great deal of advice when you start your feeding journey. What we don’t often realise is that some mums struggle with breastfeeding and even bottle feeding, and run themselves into the ground trying to avoid judgemental comments and looks.
Just try to remember that no matter which method you choose, you are mum and mum knows best! No one else knows all the details of your day so don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your parenting choices.
Perhaps you need to head back to work ASAP and choose to bring along a breast pump. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding in public or maybe you are very comfortable and are sick of the staring contests with strangers. Perhaps you need to use formula for medical reasons, or simply choose not to breastfeed.
It’s all about feeding
Sometimes with a daunting task and so many opinions floating around, it is good to hear honest stories of how others have tackled the boob and bottle battle. That is why we have checked around and gotten some tips, tricks and stories from our IBCLC lactation consultant and infant nutrition advisor and real Aussie mums.
Everyone’s experience is different, but maybe one of these pieces of advice will work for you and your baby.
It gets better after 6 weeks - Stuff Mums Like
“I'm a massive breastfeeding advocate, but I'm the first to admit that it doesn't come easily. My biggest advice to any new mum breastfeeding for the first time is just to stick with it.
As long as you have milk, just keep pushing through because it gets so much better by about six weeks. By three months you'll barely be thinking about it. It's completely worth it in the end.”
Cracked nipples? Expert advice
Mums everywhere hit forums to find out what other mums did to help prevent cracked nipples - from lanolin cream to teabags.
But according to Blackmores IBCLC lactation consultant and infant nutrition advisor, the most important things to keep in mind for for cracked nipples are:
Bottle feeding woes? Leave the house
- Check your latch- Is it comfortable? Check in with a midwife, child health nurse or lactation consultant to have your baby’s latch assessed. Once baby is latching well, the cracks should heal up quickly
- Keep your nipples dry- after feeds, expose them to air for some time and avoid using plastic backed nursing pads
If you need to bottle feed for whatever reason, try leaving the house! While leaving the house seems like the last thing that would help a baby take a bottle, it seems to work for many Aussie mums.
If you are able to get your partner or someone else to bottle feed, try stepping outside to remove yourself from the baby’s sight. By having you near, baby will want to breastfeed instead.
Information when breastfeeding and expressing
When using a breast pump
- Pump after your baby has had a feed; or if you are away from your baby, pump at the time that you would normally feed
- Try watching your baby or looking at a picture of your baby to get the milk flowing
- Make sure the flange is the right size for your breast
- Relax – especially your shoulders and back and make sure you are comfortable
- Massage your breasts before pumping. Sometimes massaging them during feeding can also help increase flow
- Try pumping after a warm shower, as the heat can get breastmilk flowing and relax you
At first you may only get a very small amount of milk. This is normal and does not indicate that you have low supply.
When storing breastmilk there are a couple of guidelines to follow:
- If expressed into a sterile container you can keep milk
- 6-8 hours at room temperature
- 72 hours in the refrigerator
- 6-12 months frozen at -20°C
- If previously frozen and then thawed in refrigerator
- 4 hours max at room temperature
- 24 hours in the refrigerator
- Discard any milk left once our bub has finished feeding
For more details see the Eat for Health Guidelines from the Australian Department of Health and Ageing.
How to increase breastmilk
Many mums worry that they can’t produce enough milk, but with the right help and most are able to. Sometimes it’s just a matter of taking a few simple steps to increase supply, while other mothers need lots of help from a breastfeeding literate healthcare professional.
Breastfeeding positions and latch
Learn about laid back breastfeeding if you are concerned about your baby’s latch.
Frequency is key
Nursing frequently will increase your supply as long as baby is latching on correctly.
Offer the breast any time your baby seems interested and allow your baby to stay at the breast for as long as possible even if it looks like they are not feeding. This will help to boost the hormones that tell your body to make milk.
Check your diet
It can be difficult to take care of yourself while you are taking care of a new baby. Make sure you are getting enough fluids and are eating a balanced diet. It can be really difficult to regularly prepare nutritious foods when you are exhausted, so try cooking in bulk and freezing meals for later.
You can also ask a family member or friend to drop by with some pre-made meals if you and your partner are having a hard time finding the time to cook. Read these tips for an ideal breastfeeding diet
If you are looking for more information or tips, you can ask our infant nutrition advisor and lactation consultant in the comments below.
For those using baby formula
Some mums choose to use a mix of baby formula and breastmilk, while others rely on formula completely. It may be hard to find the best baby formula for your child but there are many choices out there. Start with one and then see how your baby reacts.
How to choose the right baby formula
If your newborn has wind or constipation or reflux, speak with your doctor to see if there is something else at play. Some babies are sensitive to ingredients in baby formula, but it can be difficult to know what. If your little one is getting an upset tummy, it is best to check with your doctor instead of jumping from formula to formula.
Can you reheat formula?
When it comes to reheating formula, you cannot reheat it and be sure that it is safe for consumption afterwards. As soon as the baby has started a feed, bacteria starts to grow, so any unused formula in the bottle needs to be discarded. If the formula you prepared is room temperature, untouched and has not been heated, then you are able to heat it within 2 hours and use.
While it is always best to prepare formula as close as possible to when your baby will drink it, prepared formula can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Did you know that babies do not need heated breastmilk or formula? It is certainly nicer for them to have warm milk to fill their bellies, but it isn’t necessary