POWERED BY MEDELA
Welcome to latch-on life, lady. Take a seat in the lactation lounge, and say hello to your real guide to breastfeeding. This your boob bible.
Calling all milk makers, nursing ninjas, latch-on ladies.
You are about to embark on a journey – trying to breastfeed.
Chances are, you may have given it some thought, or you may not have given it more than a passing consideration. Often, when we’re pregnant, our minds make a beeline for the birth, and who can blame us.
Strong is the myth that when you have a baby, you just pop it onto your boob and they will suckle away like a cherub, after all.
But… it’s not always like that [in all honesty, it rarely is].
There may be times when it’s 3am, you’re running on 2 hours of sleep and your nipples are on fire. But even during those most challenging moments, there’s something empowering about providing for your mini-me in this way.
Because breastfeeding is about nourishing and nurturing, and sharing quiet moments you’ll remember forever.
It’s like your own little love language that only you two understand.
But always remember – wanting to breastfeed is a choice. It’s your body, your baby, your decision. Whether you choose to try to breastfeed or not, whether it’s a smooth journey or one with big bumps along the way, you are an incredible mama. Full stop.
“FOR THE MILK MAKERS, NURSING NINJAS, LATCH-ON LADIES. WELCOME TO THE LACTATION LOUNGE. THIS IS YOUR SUCKLE CIRCLE. THIS IS YOUR BABY BREW CREW.“
Benefits for mama
Newborn snugs are literally the best. But it’s more than a feel-good moment. Because bringing your baby in close during those early postpartum days is also a superhero move for prolonging your lactation period. Plus, it gets your tummy gears ready for the energy demands that come with nursing – pretty cool, huh?
Now you’re probably aware that breastfeeding creates a bond with your baby and helps you attune to their needs, but did you know that it also causes your uterus to contract [thanks to the oxytocin hormone], which puts you at less risk of a post-birth bleed.
Breastfeeding even lowers the risk of some not-so-nice things like ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
How amazing is the mama bod?!
But here’s where it gets all zen. Each breastfeeding sesh is like a mini spa break for your mind. Each time you nurse, your blood pressure drops, your cortisol [that’s the stress hormone] levels decrease, and you’re less likely to feel the effects of physical stress. So, not only are you nourishing your little one, but you’re caring for yourself, too.
“IN THE FIRST FEW DAYS AFTER BIRTH, SOME MAGICAL THINGS HAPPEN. KEY HORMONAL CHANGES AND STIMULATION FROM YOUR BABY FLIP THE SWITCH ON YOUR LACTOCYTES [MILK-PRODUCING CELLS], KICKSTARTING YOUR MILK PRODUCTION.”
Benefits for bub
Breast milk is like a gourmet meal crafted perfectly for our bubs. Packed with all the right stuff – fat, lactose, protein, and essential macronutrients – it’s just the ticket for healthy growth and development. But it’s not just food. It’s also a protective shield, thanks to all those biochemical and cellular components, to keep the nasties at bay.
Here’s the amazing bit, full-term babies guzzling on human milk see impressive improvements in their nutrition, gut health, and brain development, and they face fewer infections and chronic diseases.
For our little fighters who arrive a bit early, breast milk is even more powerful. It brings down the risk of scary stuff like necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), feeding intolerance, chronic lung disease, eye issues, delays in development, and re-hospitalisation.
Breastfeeding also gives a boost to brain development, behaviour, and lowers the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes when they’re all grown up. It even promotes healthy oral facial growth, with benefits like improved dentition, muscle activity around the mouth, and palatal growth. Plus, it brings down the risk of those pesky ear infections.
Breastfeeding also has mum and bub quite literally loved-up. Because skin-to-skin contact and the act of suckling, release oxytocin [aka, the love hormone], which is key for milk ejection and forming that unbreakable bond. It also increases blood flow to our chest and nipple area, creating a warm and nurturing snuggle zone for our little ones. Bless.
Factors that can impact breastfeeding
It’s important to know that there are a few things that may delay your milk coming in, and this could affect your ability to breastfeed and your milk production.
But luckily, these risk factors can [and should] be screened for pre- and postnatally. Just know that if this happens to you, you’re not alone – it happens to over 40% of mums.
Risk factors assessed before birth:
- Maternal obesity
- Maternal age over 30
- Breast reduction surgery
- Primiparity / First time mothers
- Planned caesarean section
- Induction of labour [compared to women who have spontaneous labour, those who have an induction are more likely to have caesarean sections, epidurals, episiotomies and postpartum haemorrhage.]
Risk factors during or after birth:
- Unplanned / emergency caesarean section
- Stressful or prolonged labour and birth
- Psychosocial stress / pain
- Postpartum haemorrhage
- Preterm or late preterm infant
- Mother-infant separation
- Delayed first breastfeeding episode
- Formula supplementation within the first 48 hours
- Breastfeeding [or pumping] less than 8 times in 24 hours
Initiating milk production
There is no way is knowing how your breastfeeding journey will transpire. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time mama or a seasoned milking goddess, your baby is brand new and it’s like starting fresh every single time.
So let’s look at how the milk is made, and what you can do to encourage successful long-term milk production.
Prepping the milk factory: During pregnancy, your body is gearing up for its new role. Not only are you nurturing a beautiful little life inside you, but your breasts are also getting ready for the breastfeeding journey. A network of milk ducts and milk-producing cells [lactocytes] form and you might notice you start producing early milk, or colostrum. You might also find your breasts growing up to 46%. For some, this happens during pregnancy, while for others, it’s not until after baby arrives.
Switching on the flow: In the first few days after birth, some magical things happen. Key hormonal changes and stimulation from your baby flip the switch on your lactocytes, kickstarting your milk production. The first 24 hours might see you producing between 10-50ml, and this volume will rise over the next few days. Remember, every mum’s journey is different, and secretory activation [milk coming in] might occur anywhere between 24-120 hours after birth.
Staying strong: Right after birth, you’re flooded with oxytocin, a major player in the lactation game. By breastfeeding or expressing early and often, you can make the most of this hormone surge and help set the stage for a successful milk supply, whether your little one is full-term or preterm.
If you’re feeding direct…
- First hour feed: Placing your baby skin-to-skin as soon as possible is a beautiful way to encourage the first breastfeed. This can set the tone for a strong breastfeeding bond.
- Frequent feeds: Aim to feed every two to three hours. Keeping your baby close can help you pick up on their early feeding cues.
- Diaper duty: If you see 3x or more yellow stools over 24 hours from around day 4, it’s a great sign that your milk production is on track.
When direct breastfeeding isn’t possible…
- Pump in the first hour: Early breast stimulation, ideally within the first hour after birth, can help kickstart your milk production journey.
- Frequent pumping: Try to pump multiple times a day, and consider double pumping every two to three hours to help ensure adequate milk volumes.
- Milestone markers: If you’re pumping at least 20ml in each of three consecutive sessions, it’s a good sign that your milk production has started.
✔️ Nursing bras: You’re defo going to need these, babe. They’re designed for easy access and maximum comfort. Plus, they offer extra support to your changing bust.
✔️ Breast pads: These little pals will help you out when your milk decides to flow at the most inconvenient times [it happens to the best of us].
✔️ Nipple cream: To soothe and protect your delicate nips, because we all know breastfeeding can sometimes feel a bit, well, ouch!
✔️ Breast pump and storage bags: For those times when you need a break, or when you’re away from your bub, pumping and storing breast milk can provide some much-needed flexibility. Which is why Medela has a whole range to suit your needs. From the Harmony manual pump, to the Freestyle double electric hands-free, and the hospital-grade Symphony pump [available to rent], the perfect pump is out there for you.
✔️ Nursing pillow: A game-changer! This will support your little one while feeding and save you from those neck, shoulder and back aches.
✔️ Feeding friendly clothes: It’s all about easy access and feeling good in your skin. Clothes designed for breastfeeding can make the journey easier and more comfortable.
✔️ Hydration and snacks [and more snacks]: When you’re nursing, you’re a fuel station for your baby. So, keep that water bottle close and stock up on snacks. Your energy needs will be higher, and hydration is key.
Remember that while breastfeeding can be really hard, it can also be really spesh. So if you are wanting to breastfeed, make sure you are properly prepared and don’t forget to reach out to a lactation consultant or GP if you’re struggling – especially in the first few weeks. You are not expected to know everything. Go forth milky mama and brew for your crew.
Disclaimer: No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical or health advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional. Please refer to our Medical and Health Disclaimer for further information.