Feeding / 8 August, 2023 / Ellie Thompson
Many women in the UK who can breastfeed plan to breastfeed their child, with statistics telling us 81% begin with hopeful intentions. However, by 6 weeks, only 55% of mothers in the UK are still breastfeeding in some capacity. It often comes as a huge surprise for women how difficult breastfeeding can be, with many women left feeling as though they have been given unrealistic expectations. Ultimately, women feel unprepared when they encountered pain, problems, and the sheer relentlessness of early infant feeding.
Feeding your baby is a full-time job. One mum in the USA did the maths and estimates that she spent approximately 1,800 hours feeding her baby over the course of a year. That equates to almost 35 hours a week sitting in your nursing chair!
What this number doesn’t factor in is all the time you spend rocking and patting your baby, trying to get them to sleep. Or the nights you sleep in your nursing chair because it’s not worth the effort of waking the baby up to go back to your own bed.
Whether you bottle or breastfeed, your nursing chair can become a place you spend a significant portion of your days… and nights. If it’s comfortable and designed to support you on your feeding journey, it will make an immeasurable difference to your life as a mum. You’ll quickly discover that it’s the best investment you’ve made in your nursery.
It may take up to six days for your milk to ‘come in,’ especially if you have a c-section. Despite popular belief, your colostrum (the thick, liquid gold that your breasts produce from around month 4 of pregnancy) is almost certainly enough for your baby until it does. Your newborn’s stomach is the size of a marble on day one earth side and only as big as a walnut by day three. They do not need gallons of breast milk to fill them up, but because their stomach is so tiny, they do need to be fed frequently (at least every two hours, around the clock initially)
Cluster feeding (when your baby nurses for hours at a time, day & night) is a completely natural & normal part of breastfeeding. Is it easy or convenient? Not by modern standards, but it does not mean that you should be worried about your supply. In fact, the only times you may need to be concerned about not producing enough milk are if your babe is not producing enough wet nappies in a day or if they are not gaining weight at the expected rate.
Research has found that when mothers have poor breastfeeding posture, it may affect latch and result in shoulder, neck, back or hand pain. This is common across so many breastfeeding stories of mothers who don’t have the adequate support or the right feeding equipment. Breastfeeding in the correct position helps to minimise the risk of this pain.
There are a range of different positions you can adopt while breastfeeding your baby, depending on which is most comfortable for you. You may also use different positions at different stages of your baby’s growth.
Cradle or cross-cradle hold are the most used. Other mothers opt for a straddle to keep their baby upright or the football hold to avoid the baby pressing on their stomach. If you’re experiencing nipple pain, a laid-back hold may help to reduce that pain and encourage a good latch.
Understanding breastfeeding positions is one thing. Having the right feeding chair to support you to achieve this is another. The right chair makes it so much easier. It’s been designed with feeding and your comfort in mind. On a nursing chair recliner, you can achieve the laid-back hold without having to move into another room. You can easily shift between positions because the chair has been designed to accommodate the full spectrum of feeding positions. The result is a supportive breastfeeding chair that can accommodate different feeding positions in supreme comfort and safety.
Breastfeeding is not easy, but it’s very worthwhile and does get easier with time and a whole lot of patience and stamina. You won’t feel like you have a lot of time for yourself, but here are 5 tips on carving out some me-time for nursing Mamas.
Whether your circle of support is dozens strong or just two or three people, drawing on them is essential if you are going to get some much-needed downtime. It will take time for you and your babe to feel comfortable being separated from one another initially, so start small. Take a nap, give yourself a manicure, or meditate while your partner, mum or father-in-law plays with your child/children in another room.
Even if your little one will only contact nap, buy yourself some me-time by preparing to do so in advance. If you are able to put your babe down to sleep, do not under any circumstances use this time to do household chores. They can either be done when your baby is awake or by someone else. The washing up will still be there at the end of the day, but if you do not take care of yourself, your sanity & patience may not!
If you are nap-trapped daily before you settle down to get your little one to sleep, grab your phone, a charger, the remote control, some headphones & some snacks.
Have a water bottle, a cup of tea, and a decent podcast at the ready! Let’s face it, you are likely going to be awake a few times throughout the night and sat feeding a lot though out the day. Anything you can do to prepare in advance will help make the feeds/ night feed that bit more comfortable.
A pre-made flask of (de-café?) tea may make the difference and give you that much-needed little boost though out the long nights – especially in winter, or for the warmer months, something ice-cold will be super refreshing.
One of the kindest things you can do for yourself when feeding your baby is to feed yourself. The amount of energy you burn when feeding a baby is astonishing, so prepare yourself snacks and meals. If you are too tired to prepare much, carrot batons, breastfeeding cookies, bread sticks, and fruit are all ready-to-eat foods with little effort yet loaded with energy and nutrients! Your body will thank you for the fuel.
Oh, sleep, that wonderful, distant memory… if, like me, your baby is more wakeful than you knew was humanly possible(!), doing everything that you can to maximise on your own sleep will give you a new lease of life. People commonly advise new parents to “sleep when baby sleeps,” but you may not be able to if you have older children or if you struggle to fall asleep in the middle of the day. Instead, try going to bed at night at the same time as your child(ren). This may mean that you don’t get to put the washing machine on or cuddle with your partner on the sofa, but if it gives you an extra few hours of sleep, it may well be worthwhile.
Breastfeeding is incredibly worthwhile, but it’s not easy for a variety of physical and emotional reasons. For better support and more information on nursing chairs visit www.iltutto.co.uk.
Article by The Breast-feeding Mentor