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A-Z of Breastfeeding

G is for...

G is for...G is for…

Gel pads – Little breast shaped sachets of gel which you can cool in the fridge to soothe sore breasts.

Glider chair (see nursing chair) – A chair with smooth forward and back gliding motion, designed to soothe baby while you breastfeed. Having never owned one, I don’t know how well they soothe, but they are very comfortable to breastfeed in.

Groups – Support groups can be a lifesaver when you’re struggling with breastfeeding or parenthood in general. Get to know your local groups before baby is born if you can and try not to prejudge the mums there – new babies can be a real leveller, and if nothing else it’s a relief to know that even the mums who look perfect aren’t coping as well as they seem!

Growth spurts – Babies don’t follow the gentle curves that most books show. They grow in fits and starts in order to keep us constantly concerned about their weight gain and food intake. If your baby suddenly turns into a bottomless pit and you feel glued to the sofa as baby feeds every hour, don’t panic and assume there’s an issue with your supply. Growth spurts traditionally occur almost constantly during the first 6 weeks, at 3-4 months, 6 months and 9 months. They can feel endless when you’re in the middle of one, but hang on in there, this too will pass.

Guidelines – The WHO infant feeding guidelines state that for optimum health, babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. From then onwards they should be given solid food while breastfeeding continues for up to two years and beyond.

Guilt – Something parents seem to be good at. I’m not going to go into the whole “breastfeeding guilt” thing here. There is no reason to feel guilty when you’re trying do your best for your child and your family.

Gymnastics – If you find yourself breastfeeding an older baby or toddler, you’ll soon understand why this is in a breastfeeding glossary. Babies become very distractible and can end up in all sorts of strange positions.

Any more? Please add them in the comments!

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A-Z of Breastfeeding

F is for...

F is for...F is for…

Fashion – you don’t have to give up on it just because you’ve had a baby

Facebook – social network some odd policies about breastfeeding mums posting photos and take it on themselves to remove them. I believe the current situation is that you’re OK if you don’t show nipple and no other “nudity” is involved(!) There’s a great write-up here.

Fast letdown (Also known as milk ejection reflex and associated with oversupply) – very fast flow of milk that can cause baby to pull off the breast or choke and gag as they struggle to keep up. It’s not always a problem, but Kellymom gives a good list of symptoms and solutions.

Fertilityexclusive breastfeeding is an effective birth control (about 98% effective) for the first 6 months of your baby’s life providing your periods haven’t yet returned, your baby ONLY gets breastmilk (no formula, no additional foods) and you feed completely on demand both day and night. For all the stats, you can read more here.

Flash Mob – the modern way to show your disapproval for companies and organisations who illegally harass or are unsupportive of breastfeeding mums. Here’s a story about a Bristol flash mob with a happy ending 🙂

Food of Love, Kate EvansFood of Love – Brilliant and very popular breastfeeding book by Kate Evans (Take or leave the parenting advice, as everyone’s different, but she explains breastfeeding clearly and gives advice based on latest scientific research).

Free – breastmilk costs nothing and you can take it anywhere.

Frequency – current advice is to feed your baby on cue rather than try to follow a structured timetable as each baby is different. Breastfeeding frequency will vary with growth spurts, weather, health (yours and baby’s) and emotional changes, but as a guideline newborns usually feed 8-12 times a day. Some will need more, some less. If you feed on demand, you will always get it right.

Fussing at the breast – a very common concern for breastfeeding mums. Kellymom gives a far better overview of possible reasons than I can… so over to Kellymom! For us, the problem was nearly always wind, and when I got the hang of burping her properly (or learned to be OK with Mr MilkChic, my stepson, my mum, my dad and random neighbours being better at it than me) we were lucky to not have any more issues.

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A-Z of Breastfeeding

E is for... Breastfeeding glossary

E is for... Breastfeeding glossaryE is for…

Eating – Breastfeeding is hungry work – you are the primary food source for a growing child! Everyone will tell you to eat a healthy, balanced diet which, while rather a no-brainer, may seem more difficult than you at first imagined. With a newborn, food preparation needs to be quick and easy, and you’ll soon find that the minute your dinner is ready, baby wants food too. Until you’ve mastered eating one-handed, try to keep a box of snacks on hand – nuts, dried fruit and cereal bars are reasonably healthy ways to up your calories, but don’t feel guilty about cake and chocolate too. Most breastfeeding mums find themselves ravenous for the first few months so don’t deprive yourself. Once you’ve got breastfeeding established, you’ll find it easier to find some balance.

Education – Talk to people about breastfeeding before your baby arrives. Find out what is normal, what to expect and where your local breastfeeding support can be found. Make sure that your partner and family are well informed about breastfeeding too.

Electric breastpumps – If you choose to express milk regularly, you may want to look at buying an electric pump. At a cost of £60-250, it isn’t an essential, and many pumping mums are very happy expressing manually or using a hand pump, but if you’re thinking of buying one, Which? Magazine reckon the Medela Swing breastpump and Medela Mini Electric Pump are both good all round buys. NB. It is not recommended that you buy second hand pumps unless they are closed system or hospital grade pumps designed for use by more than one baby.

Emotions – Breastfeeding, like pregnancy and birth (and parenting in general) can be an emotional rollercoaster. Mums describe every emotion from euphoria to despair, but just because it’s normal doesn’t mean you don’t need support. Establishing breastfeeding, growth spurts and weaning can be difficult times so make sure you have help when you need it.

Employment Law – As a breastfeeding mother, you are protected under the same health and safety legislation as you were when you were pregnant. Your employer has an obligation to risk assess your job and ensure that it does not put you or your baby at risk. Breastfeeding mums should also have a suitable place to rest, and pump. Make sure you have informed your employer in writing of your intention to continue breastfeeding when you return to work, if this is the case.

Engorgement – Most mums will feel engorged (heavy, warm, uncomfortably “full” feeling breasts) at the beginning while their milk supply regulates. Make sure you breastfeed regularly to prevent it becoming a problem. The traditional cabbage leave remedy is surprisingly effective (although you will stink…!) and you can find more information about dealing with engorged breasts here. If your baby struggles to latch on an overfull breast, hand expressing a little milk first can help.

Epsom Salts – If you are suffering with mastitis or a plugged duct, you may find bathing the affected breast in warm water with Epsom salts helps calm the inflammation. Rinse off before feeding!

Equipment – The only essential equipment for breastfeeding is a baby and a boob. Depending on your situation and your budget, you may want to treat yourself to a nursing pillow, some nipple cream, a breastpump or some attractive nursing clothing. Alternatively, you may feel you’re better off with chocolate cake and a killer pair of shoes 😉

Establishing breastfeeding – The common consensus seems to be that it takes about 6 weeks to establish breastfeeding. Your milk supply has to adjust, and you and baby need to learn what to do, ironing out issues with latch and positioning. For the best possible start, try to have plenty of skin-to-skin contact and feed your baby in the first hour after birth, breastfeeding as often as they need. The WHO recommends not using bottles, teats or pacifiers which can cause “nipple confusion”.

Etiquette – A whole other post…. but suffice it to say, there are no rules about where, when, why or how it is acceptable for you to breastfeed your baby. However, if you are feeding an older baby or toddler, it is definitely not polite for them to bite, hit or do gymnastics while nursing. Equally, they may feel it is not polite for you to read a book, play on your mobile or eat!

Evening Dresses – breastfeeding babies are very portable and you may find yourself needing some special occasion clothing. Make the most of the extra cleavage and treat yourself to some breastfeeding-friendly evening dresses.

Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF on the baby forums) – This means that a baby receives only breast milk (no additional food or drink, not even water). The WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child’s life:

…exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

Exercise – There is an excellent article on breastfeeding and exercise at KellyMom. Basically, it’s fine to exercise when you’re breastfeeding, which is good news as exercise is a great mood enhancer! Make sure you have a decent sports bra if you’re planning anything strenuous, and don’t overdo it too early on.

Expressing – pumping milk for later use in bottles or cups. This is a way of giving breastmilk when mum isn’t there, and can help if you go back to work before you finish breastfeeding. You can express by hand, or use manual or electric pumps. Here are some tips for pumping and expressing that I wish I had while I was still breastfeeding.

“Extreme” Breastfeeding – sensational media term for breastfeeding in line with WHO guidelines.

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A-Z of Breastfeeding


Daddy – supportive Dads make a breastfeeding relationship work or work better.

Demand – Feeding “on demand” means responding flexibly to your baby’s requests for food, rather than trying to enforce a timetable of regular feeding. I believe that demand feeding is absolutely key to successful initiation of breastfeeding. This is a great article on why it is so important. If you are a very structured person, the uncertainty of breastfeeding on demand can feel very uncomfortable at times. Building in a routine around the feeding process so that only the timing is uncertain can help you to regain a feeling of control without making breastfeeding itself harder than it has to be.

Designer milk – Breastmilk is available in the correct volume, at the correct temperature, perfectly designed for your baby’s age, growth stage, the time of day, the weather and with all the antibodies your baby needs… wherever and whenever they need it.

Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths – one of my favourite breastfeeding blogs.

Distractions – As your baby gets older, there are a million and one things that will distract them in the middle of feeds. It is a developmental stage that is amusing, frustrating, occasionally embarrassing (when they pull off and look around while exposing you to all and sundry) and sometimes painful (when they forget to let go before looking around).

Donating Milk – Some women are unable to breastfeed, often due to stress or illness. If you have an oversupply of milk, consider donating to your local milk bank. You can find more information about donating from the United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking.

Dream Feeds – Offering a feed just before you go to bed. This seems counterintuitive if your baby is already asleep, but often you can feed without really waking the baby. If you are lucky, dream feeding can mean that you get a longer sleep at night before they wake again.

Dress – You don’t have to avoid dresses just because you are breastfeeding. There are specially designed nursing dresses available, but button down dresses and wrap dresses work equally well.

Drugs in Breastmilk Hotline – If you’re worried about taking prescription drugs while breastfeeding and need some advice, call the hotline on 0844 412 4665 or e-mail including age of baby, dose, frequency and name of medication or drug for help and information.

See the full A-Z of Breastfeeding so far, and feel free to add your own in the comments!

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A-Z of Breastfeeding


Cake – tasty food with a high concentration of calories – excellent for sustaining breastfeeding (as part of a balanced diet…). Best combined with tea and supportive friends.

Chocolatesee also cake…

Calories – Breastfeeding naturally uses up to 500 calories a day.

Clothes – clothes for breastfeeding need, above all to be accessible. There is nothing more likely to make you feel flustered than trying to undo layers of clothing one-handed while your baby screams! There are some good nursing clothes available but, once you know what to look for, it is just as easy to find high street fashion that works for breastfeeding and you’ll have a lot more choice.

Cluster Feeding – a term used for feeds spaced very close together. This often happens in the evenings and can mean your baby is gearing up to sleeping longer at night (yay!). It is also common for newborns, who need very regular feeding, and during growth spurts. Cluster feeding can feel tiring but it is normal and will pass. Read Kellymom for reassurance and make sure you are prepared with dinner you can eat one-handed and a good book or TV remote for those “glued to the sofa” hours.

Colostrum – The first milk you produce, which is thick, yellow and sticky. It is perfectly formulated for a newborn baby – easy to digest, high in nutrition and full of antibodies. Read more about the amazing properties of colustrum at La Leche League.

Combination Feeding – Feeding your baby breastmilk at some feeds and formula at others. While some studies suggest this does reduce the benefits of breastfeeding, many mums find this a successful solution particularly if they find it difficult to pump and have to return to work before baby weans, and some “mixed feed” long term.If you plan to combination feed, wait until your baby is at least 6 weeks as it can interfere with your body’s ability to manage milk production.

Comfort Feeding – suckling not primarily for nutrition. While breastfeeding is a great source of nutrition, it is also a great comfort when a child is ill, unsure, tired or grumpy. Ignore anyone who suggests that comforting your child is bad – they have the wrong idea of what parenting is about! Suckling without really eating also serves to increase milk supply so if your little suddenly starts comfort feeding more than usual and there have been no other changes which may be unsettling them, they may be building up to a growth spurt.

Confidence – Something that successful breastfeeding gives you in spades. When you look at your baby, remember that every ounce came from you – impressive, aren’t you?! If confidence is an issue for you and a fear of breastfeeding in public is preventing you from getting out and about, fake it until you make it. You’ll be amazed how supportive most people are.

Covers – There are huge debates on the merits of breastfeeding covers. Some people like them because they are concerned about feeding in public and a cover makes them feel safe. Others hate them because their very existence suggests that breastfeeding should be covered and feeling they need to cover up while latching can make breastfeeding much harder than it should be for a new mum. In a nutshell… they are not a necessity, but they are also not a crime (although the way they are marketed can be). I prefer to just wear breastfeeding friendly clothing rather than buy something special.

Covering up – Breastfeeding mums are legally protected wherever and whenever they choose to feed in public. Covering up, or not covering up while feeding is a personal preference. As is watching someone else breastfeed. But if you don’t want to watch, it’s your job to leave the area. Move on, avert your eyes etc. etc. etc.

Cracked nipples – A lot of breastfeeding mums do suffer from cracked nipples at the start. Theoretically, with a good latch there should be no problems unless you have thrush or similar. But most of us aren’t perfect and until you’ve got it right, a good nipple cream can be a godsend. I used Lansinoh, which I found effective but there are lots of others – pick one that doesn’t need to be washed off before feeds. Kellymom offers some good tips for healing cracked nipples.

Crimes of breastfeeding – the things other people feel they have to right to tell you off for.

Criticism – see above. New mums seem to under a constant barrage of criticism for all of their parenting choices, breastfeeding included. Please try to avoid doing this to other mums. If you come under fire yourself, here are some readymade responses that work.

Cropped tops – Tops that you can wear over a nursing vest for lift up style breastfeeding. Easy access clothing that also allows you to cover up if you want to.

Cues – Signals that a baby wants to breastfeed. There are lots of early signs that a baby wants to feed that you will become aware of long before they start to cry. These can include rooting (a reflex present in young babies where they automatically turn towards the breast and make sucking motions with their mouth, or stick their tongue in and out), fussing, sucking their hands, opening and shutting mouth and lip-smacking, fidgeting and squirming, hitting you on the arm or chest.

See the full A-Z of Breastfeeding so far, and feel free to add your own in the comments!