When I was pregnant I never doubted that I would be able to breastfeed. My mum and my sister never had any problems and I just kind of thought it would come naturally.
When my first was born I struggled to get her to suck properly. At some point we were both so exhausted (still in the birthing suite) and I looked down at her and she was turning blue! We both had fallen asleep and her nose was squished into me and she couldn’t breathe. The midwife picked her up and immediately her colour returned. So right away things were not turning out as easy as I thought they would be!
The following days in hospital and at home were also not easy. I really struggled to get her to attach and to suck properly. My nipples were cracked and so so so sore. I remember thinking, “how the hell did the human race survive & do women do this?!” I was in awe of mothers especially when I heard things like “Breastfeeding was such a wonderful experience”… What the?! I dreaded each feed. Changing sides was even more unbearable! I was determined to not give up but I was nearing the end of my threshold. I just wanted to be able to relax while I fed my baby! My whole viewpoint on breastfeeding was changing. It was just so hard!
It wasn’t until the home visit nurse came and suggested feeding her in the “football hold” position. She helped me attach the baby and voila! It felt different instantly. I fed Oakes like this every feed, rotating breasts until the cracking completely healed up and she began to get bigger. I returned to the normal position gradually and never had any issues with cracked nipples or pain ever again! I was so lucky to have this home visit from the midwife. And I am so glad that I did not give up. I fed her right up until the birth of my second baby, when Oakes was 3 1/2 years old.
Once you adjust to this new way of life and feeding techniques it really is so easy to whip it out anytime you need to. And You can be 100% sure that Breastmilk gives your baby the best start in life!
The right diet is key to ensure your milk is highly nutritious, that you have a pleasant experience and enough supply. So here are some tips that have helped me succeed:
- Magnesium. This mineral is not created in the body so it must come from somewhere else. We cannot possibly attain as much magensium to meet our needs from food sources alone, so we must supplement. Magnesium will help you and your baby sleep, poop and settle better. The best food sources are beef, chicken & fish broth.
- B vitamins – can protect against depression, anxiety & mental disorders in both mother and baby. Women with postpartum depression tend to low in both B vitamins and magnesium. B12 is only found in animal products, and is essential for preventing anemia.
- Manganese – essential for the formation of breastmilk and growth.
- Omega 3s, EPA & DHA – for optimal brain development, vision and nervous system development. Low levels may lead to learning disabilities.
- Vitamin D – for strong bones, teeth and protection against cancer.
- Vitamin C – essential for lactation, growth and tissue repair.
- Animal Protein & fats – Saturated fats in mother’s milk stimulate the immune system. Levels of fat in a mother’s milk will decrease with each baby unless she takes special care to consume high levels of nutrient-dense fats between pregnancies and during each lactation. Fats are necessary for physical growth and mental development, fertility and are high in vitamin A, D, K & E. Proteins are the building blocks of life and a rich source of iron and B vitamins.
- Salt! – salt is essential for brain development, enzyme production for digestion, hydration and nervous system function.
- Collagen & gelatin rich foods such as bone broth for blood building, digestion, healthy bones, hair & skin and easily assimilated vitamins and minerals such as calcium, Iron, vitamin A, D, magnesium & silicon.
- Fermented foods and drinks can increase supply. Soak oats & grains overnight before consuming. Soaking allows optimum nutrients to be absorbed and easier digestion of them. Add fermented vegetables, kefir, whey & kombucha into your diet daily during pregnancy and lactation. They are natural sources of probiotics and kombucha is a liver tonic.
- Iron- essential for healthy blood, immune system and mental development. However, synthetic iron supplements cannot be absorbed by the body. The best sources are eggs, fish, liver, meat and green leafy veggies.
- Hydration affects every single cell in the body! You will probably notice you become extremely thirsty when you feed. Dehydration will affect your milk supply and leave you both feeling very grizzly, and may lead to recurring mastitis, cracked lips and impaired brain function.
- Stress affects milk supply. Magnesium will help to dissolve adrenalin (stress hormone) which prevents the let down of milk. Try to relive stress with gentle exercise, plenty of rest, limit your caffeine and sugar intake, and do not take on any major assignments like moving or renovating house, new work commitments etc.
- If your digestion is not working properly nothing else in your body will be!
- Eat whole foods, and do not diet! Your baby weight gain will slowly fall away with a healthy diet, gentle exercise and breastfeeding so do not worry.
- Avoid trans fats found in margerine & processed food. These decrease the fat content of your milk & are toxic.
- Avoid sugar- it depletes B vitamins and weakens the immune system.
- Fennel essential oil increases supply, avoid peppermint oil as it does the opposite. Essential oils are extremely powerful. 1drop is equivalent to 28cups of tea!
Tips for getting comfortable:
- Bring your baby to the breast, don’t bend over towards your baby.
- Try different holds, (twin hold, football hold, lying down etc) and definitely empty both breasts each feed.
- Start gentle core strengthening and get plenty of rest and help from family’s for you can.
My second baby is 12 months old now it’s weird to think that I have been breastfeeding for four and half years straight now! Our bodies truly are amazingly designed to be able to nuture our young!