Ever wondered what survival tools you need to survive the scary world of breastfeeding? Helen Farmer, the editor of Good Magazine and mama of beautiful little baby girl Phoebe gives her top tips below…
Breastfeeding is not easy. Yes, it’s the most ‘natural’ way to feed your baby, but it doesn’t always come naturally, and far too much pressure is put on new mums to get it straight away – pressure from themselves, healthcare professionals, other mums and just about everyone you can think of. The fact is, some mums don’t enjoy it, some babies don’t take to it and sometimes it’s better to try other methods of feeding. Remember, stress does not help milk production. If you’re having problems and are determined to breastfeed, enlist the help of a reputable lactation consultant (such as Dr Delphine at HealthBay Polyclinic), who can advise on potential obstacles, such as tongue ties and low supply.
2. A breast pump
Once you get past the oh so hilarious dairy jokes (and the noise) a breastpump will help boost production and reassure you that your baby is getting enough milk. Handheld, electric and hospital grade pumps are available, and Medela is well-loved and widely available, along with different sized attachments, storage bags and bottles. Babyshop has a broad choice of brands. I bought the Medela Electric Swing, which comes with a handy belt hook for expressing on the go. I’ve yet to meet anyone who has actually done this.
3. A nursing bra (and tops)
Forget underwiring, a softer bra won’t inhibit supply and those clever clasps will let you get your breasts out wherever you need to. Try stretchy fabric bras from Mothercare or prettier lingerie from Blush and Bloom and TKD. I bought a couple from the brand Hot Milk, mainly because the name made me laugh and the fact that they don’t look like something your maiden aunt would wear. Nursing vests are great too, with built-in support and clasps. Try H&M’s Mama range, where they sell packs of two cotton vests from Dhs99.
Yes, you can buy a proper breastfeeding pillow with all the bells and whistles (and pockets); I bought one that I could strap around me from Baby Souk and used it for the first few weeks, but have ended up using a long squidgy pillow instead. If you express and feed using a bottle you’ll need even more pillows to prop up your arm – babies can take a looooong time to drink up.
5. Water and snacks
Keep your energy and fluids up. The more water you drink, the better your production. And don’t be surprised if you wake up in the night starving. Take half a sandwich to bed with you for those 3am feeds, or have a box of snacks nearby – dried fruit and nuts will do the trick.
If, like me, you struggle with supply, try supplements. Motherlove capsules (from Amazon and sometimes Blush and Bloom) contain key herbs such as goat’s rue to give you a boost. Fenugreek is also known for its milk producing properties and can be bought at at most pharmacies. Do note that it does smell a bit.
7. Nipple cream
Lanolin is the best, and is also the most effective lip balm you’ll ever find. Ever. Lansinoh is fantastic, but hard to find in the UAE (Mumz World is your best bet), so get all those visiting family members to stock up before they descend to see the new addition. You don’t need to remove it before breastfeeding, which is great when there’s a screaming baby wanting food NOW.
8. Breast pads
You will leak. And it will probably happen somewhere inconvenient, such as when you take the baby into your office, or on your first night out since giving birth. Most brands are fairly similar (just choose between disposable or washable pads) and remember to stash them everywhere. Your baby bag, the car, pockets of your husband’s suits…
9. A cover-up
If you’re out and about a cover-up is essential. The best one I found was from Dubai-based Love by JO, which is made from soft jersey cotton and has a bamboo strip built into the top so you can peer down to check on your baby’s latch.
Like I said, babies take their time when it comes to feeding, and 10 minutes at 2am can feel like hours. Load up books on your Kindle (useful as they only require one hand), get Netflix on your iPad and prepare to spend far too long reading crazy mum forums at stupid o’clock on your phone.
An app is a must have for breast feeding – ‘What To Expect’ is the one I use, but they are all pretty much the same. essential when you can’t remember which boob the sprog had last!
When eating out with your baby it might be wise to order dishes you can eat one-handed with a fork. Penne pasta? Yes. Rib-eye? Not so much.