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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!

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My Breastfeeding Journey: Finding My Style

In honour of Breastfeeding Awareness Week (19th-25th June 2011), I am sharing my breastfeeding journey so far. I would love to hear your stories too. Please share your breastfeeding related posts in the comments feed.
Once you got past the first couple of months people talk about things falling into place and this was certainly the case for me. I was very lucky and the small one slept a good 7 hours a night from about 7 weeks old, so I was less sleep-deprived than a lot of my friends.
I was finding the daily routine of nappies, naps and nursing more manageable, and I was loving watching my daughter develop day by day.
Breastfeeding was well-established and by this time, I had recovered from a bout of mastitis with antibiotics and heavy application of warming/cooling packs. I even got through the cracked nipples thanks to Lansinoh and the much-maligned nipple shields (I do understand why nipple shields aren’t recommended, but if they give you a short term solution to stopping feeding entirely, they can’t be all bad!). What’s more, I had finally stopped waking up in puddles of milk…
But for me, this partial return to normality sparked complete panic. I had morphed into a mumsy, stained nursing t-shirt wearing frump. All of the time I had been staying at home, completely focused on my baby it didn’t seem to matter, but suddenly I was talking about going to baby groups and meeting new people or worse, seeing people who knew the pre-baby me, and I had a real crisis of confidence.
Everyone seemed to be coping better than me. I knew from people I spoke to at the baby weigh-ins that it wasn’t really the case, but I felt useless, unable even to lift my daughter properly because of SPD.
Breastfeeding was my saviour. It was the one thing that I had planned that I was actually managing to do. And I was doing it well. As the weeks went on, most of the mums I had met stopped breastfeeding, but we continued, and it gave me a huge sense of achievement, not least when I realised that some of them actually envied me.
It did have it’s downsides. As more of my mummy friends converted to formula, many started extreme diet and exercise programmes to lose the baby weight. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable dieting, but as a marathon runner, I felt very jealous of those who were starting to tone up and fit into their old clothes again.
I was the antithesis of yummy-mummy – my boobs had ballooned and I no longer fitted my maternity clothes, let alone anything else. I lived in boring nursing t-shirts.
Nothing I liked seemed to work for breastfeeding, but I had to wear something so I just bought whatever fitted. Shopping was difficult and joyless and I ended up focusing on practicality rather than style. I felt like I had a stranger’s body dressed in someone else’s clothes. For someone who uses clothes as body armour, it was a massive issue and affected every aspect of my life.
For me, mastitis was minor compared to my fashion and body issues. Feeling comfortable in my own skin again gave me the confidence to continue breastfeeding and I am convinced that discovering that I could feed through the sleeves of a certain H&M batwing jumper dress was the turning point in my breastfeeding journey!
It took me a long time to find my breastfeeding style, but it has given me real confidence to feed wherever and whenever I need to. As a result of my frustrations, I set up MilkChic, a directory of breastfeeding-friendly high street clothes and was overwhelmed by the number of people who told me they felt exactly the same way.
Lots of fuss is made over the physical hurdles to breastfeeding, but the practical and emotional issues are ignored. Once you are past the first couple of months, the mechanics of breastfeeding get easier but social pressures and other issues can get harder to deal with. Only a mum can know what works for her and her lifestyle and it is vitally important that all mums are supported to find their comfort zone if longer term breastfeeding rates are going to improve.

The other posts in this series are My Breastfeeding Journey: Pregnancy ; My Breastfeeding Journey: Breastfeeding a Newborn ; Crimes of Breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding semantics

MilkChic was born of pure frustration at the lack of clothing choice for breastfeeding mums. Although very pro-breastfeeding at a personal level, I had been blissfully unaware of the wider breastfeeding debate.
Since the website launched, I have become far more aware of the language used to describe breastfeeding and the emotion it can provoke, I have found I have had to decide what my stance is and why.
For instance, I described the breastfeeding techniques I use as “discreet, but I have learned that this can be an extremely emotive term – it is seen to imply that breastfeeding should be hidden away in order to be acceptable. While I stand by “discreet” as an accurate description, this is not a view I would want to be associated with.
Equally, I don’t agree with the breastfeeding activists who believe that by choosing to cover up, you are somehow colluding with those who believe breastfeeding should be only done in private. Surely, the key word is choice? If the aim is to support more women to breastfeed, a woman breastfeeding, however they choose to do it, is a success story.
Of all the descriptions I’ve heard, the one I like best is “breastfeeding with confidence“, as it covers both the physical and emotional aspects of breastfeeding. It doesn’t matter whether you feed with a cover, discreetly under clothes, with no cover at all or anything in between, having the confidence to feed whenever and wherever your baby needs is the holy grail.
For most women, to breastfeed long term they need to be able to feed in front of others, which means choosing clothing which not only works, but gives them confidence and makes them feel good about themselves. Searching for clothing that you can feed in easily is incredibly depressing. I ended up buying nursing clothes that I didn’t even like because they were practical, which did nothing for my self-esteem.
The intention of MilkChic is simple – to give nursing mothers access to clothing choices that help them to breastfeed confidently without losing their own personal style. It’s a simple step towards breastfeeding with confidence.