1. Learn how to breastfeed before giving birth
The shift into a breastfeeding lifestyle may seem strange and awkward at first, but as with everything in life, the more you know, the better you do.
Nothing can totally prepare you for this real-life experience, but learning to breastfeed before giving birth will certainly help. You can read up on breastfeeding trips for new mums before you begin. Not all breastfeeding positions will work for all mums and babies, so it’s nice to have a few options available off the top of your head.
2. Express your breast milk
Expressing is a way of taking breast milk from your breast without your baby suckling. Once you’ve expressed your breast milk, it should be kept in the fridge or freezer117 to bottle feed your baby later. Some bottles of 28 to 67 grams of breast milk can be frozen for times when the baby is in need of some extra breast milk.
There are a number of reasons why expressing your breast milk and storing it for later use is a good idea.
- Not everyone can be with their baby 24/7 and in some cases you will need to rely on family, friends, or a babysitter to take care of your little one.
- Sometimes new mums will experience engorged or swollen breasts and expressing milk will provide some relief.
- In other cases you’ll appreciate a bottle if you’re on the go.
There are three common methods for expressing breast milk;
- By hand
- With a hand-held pump,
- With an electric pump.
Though it is not painful, many women prefer to use a pump, as it’s much easier. A useful tip is to put pressure on the milk ducts behind your nipple rather than squeezing the nipple itself. Breastfeeding mums are also able to hire expressing pumps if they don’t want to buy one.
Having your breast milk expressed and stored is great in emergencies and can save a lot of time for busy mums. It’s also handy if you’re in a place where you don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding.
3. Storing breast milk
After you’ve expressed your breast milk, the next step is storing it correctly. Breast milk storage isn’t overly complicated, but it does require some care and attention.
- To avoid spoiling, do not let your bottles of breast milk to stand at room temperature.
- Refrigerated bottles should be used to store your breast milk, and kept at 4° Celsius or below, within 48 hours from the time of collection.
- You should use sterilized, airtight containers or breast milk storage bags specifically designed for this purpose (though bear in mind that these can often tear or become contaminated more easily). If using a plastic container, ensure that it is BPA-free.
Follow the guide below for breast milk storage times and temperatures from Food and Nutrition Service – USDA
- Always remember to label each refrigerated bottle of breast milk with the date and time the breast milk was collected, so you can keep track of when it’s going to expire.
- You can store your breast milk in hard plastic bottles if possible, to prevent breakage. If you send your baby to childcare, ensure it has their full name on the container.
4. Consider breastfeeding-specific clothing
Breastfeeding clothes are a relatively recent addition to the market and take the humble maternity bra to the next level. Breastfeeding tops and breastfeeding dresses are growing in popularity due to the ease with which you can feed your baby in them.
5. Maintain a healthy breastfeeding diet
Your healthy diet shouldn’t fly out the window once pregnancy is over. While you can relax a little more and start eating some items that were previously off limits (hello, soft cheeses!), what you eat can affect your breast milk.
Check out our breastfeeding nutrition page for more information on what you can and can’t eat when breastfeeding.
6. Take a supplement while breastfeeding
Sticking to a healthy diet at all times is almost impossible with a new baby at home. In addition to this, breastfeeding means you’ll need to meet increased nutritional requirements.
Both pregnancy and lactation are influenced by maternal nutritional adequacy. For instance, a supplement of 10µg/d is recommended for mothers who eschew milk and other vitamin D fortified foods, and similarly, a supplement of vitamin B-12 (2.6µg/d) is recommended for lactating mothers who are vegetarians.
7. Ensure you get enough rest
Being a new mum can be stressful and it’s easy to not get enough sleep in those first few months, it’s still important that you get sleep whenever and wherever you can, especially when breastfeeding, as you’re expending more energy than normal with feeds. Prioritise it and make time for it if necessary.
8. Make time to socialise with other breastfeeding mums
Breastfeeding can be pretty tricky for such a natural process, and it’s great to have a support network of likeminded people to turn to if you’re having problems. Try looking on parenting sites, Facebook, for parenting groups in your area.
Manage your breastfeeding routine with a checklist
+++ Keep on top of your breastfeeding journey with a useful checklist to guide you through the first few months. Read and print out the breastfeeding checklist to support this special time.