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A-Z of Breastfeeding

E is for... Breastfeeding glossary
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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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Feeding your baby in the car the easy way

Breastfeedig Baby
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This post is a guest post by the Sainsbury’s Finance Blog team. Please see full disclosure at the end of this post.

Breastfeedig BabyTravelling even a short distance in a car with a baby can involve juggling a whole load of equipment, and a certain amount of hoping for the best. A long journey brings the added challenge of having to feed your baby on the way – so here’s some advice to help.

Routine
To help keep the whole experience as stress-free as possible for baby (and therefore everyone else), stick as closely as possible to their usual routine. Your baby might not be able to tell the time yet, but they have a very reliable internal clock, and having their expectations met on time helps to keep everyone calm and relaxed.

How to feed your baby
There are several options for feeding your baby during a car journey.

  • Breastfeeding: This is the easiest option as you won’t need to pack any special equipment or worry about getting the temperature right. You can’t do it on the move, however, as it would mean taking the baby out of their car seat – which is both unsafe and illegal.

Should the idea of breastfeeding your baby in a succession of unknown public venues make you uncomfortable, plan ahead. Make sure you are wearing easily accessible clothes and offer milk to your baby whenever you stop even if they don’t seem hungry. You’ll need to plan stops every couple of hours to feed and/or change nappies.

If you think you might need to feed between stops, or you prefer to express when out or about, you can bottle expressed milk and store it for up to 24 hours in a cooler bag with ice. To warm it up, you could either take a flask of hot water and a bowl, or ask service station staff to heat it for you. If you do the latter, always check that the temperature is right for your baby before attempting to feed them.

  • Formula feeding: An easy travel option is to purchase travel packs of ready-made formula at the chemist.

To prepare powdered formula on the road, fill a flask or two with hot water, pack some sterilised bottles and teats, and prepare small packs of pre-measured powder. Bring extra powder along: service station staff should be only too happy to refill your flask en route.

  • Solids: If you want to give your baby a snack to chew on while travelling by car, make sure that an adult is sitting next to them. If this isn’t possible then give them a teething ring instead, or something else that doesn’t involve swallowing, as there is a danger of choking if they are unsupervised. If hunger is getting to them, pull over somewhere safe and allow them time to eat.

If there is someone present to supervise the baby, food such as rice cakes, fingers of cheese, or slices of apple are nutritious and relatively mess-free. For freshly made meals along the way, bring food your baby is happy to eat at room temperature and that are easy to mash, such as banana or avocado. Or you could make up pots of their usual food before setting off, and reheat these when needed.

Author Bio: Kath Morgan writes about a whole host of motoring topics, including family travel, car insurance and safety concerns. An avid traveller, she spent many years living abroad and understands the lure of the open road only too well.

Disclosure: I was offered this post as part of my membership of the Sainsbury’s Finance Family Blogger Network and have not been paid to publish it. As part of my membership, I received a Sainsbury’s gift card but this did not obligate me to publish a post. I have chosen to host this guest post as I feel it gives useful information.

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Breastfeeding & Pumping Tips

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My best mate has just given birth to her first baby. She had a difficult pregnancy and was diagnosed with Vasa Praevia, which meant the baby was at such risk that she was advised to have a planned c-section at 36 weeks. Everything went ok, thank goodness, and her daughter is now 4 weeks old.

Having planned to exclusively breastfeed, it was great that she initially established feeding well, but after various problems and with total exhaustion, she moved to combination feeding – a mix of breastfeeding, pumping and formula. The hospital was supportive, and it was working for them.

Her milk came in quickly and she had already managed to express a good amount in hospital, so it was a bit of a shock to get a call from her husband late at night a couple of days later asking for help. She was close to giving up breastfeeding due to the pain and was suddenly struggling to pump anything at all.

Image: Pumpease Organic

I’m no expert when it comes to pumping. Our bodies are designed to feed babies, not electric appliances, and sometimes they just don’t cooperate. I had difficulty getting a letdown without my daughter present and rarely managed to pump more than a mouthful. I was lucky enough that I didn’t desperately need to make it work and gave up on the idea pretty quickly.

So I turned to the wonderful people on Twitter and the Pumping Mummies forum at BabyCentre and, as always, they came through with some great advice. First… don’t assume it’s just something that you are doing wrong:

  • Make sure the breastshields on your pump are the right size for you. Some pump manufacturers offer a range of options and shape and size does vary from brand to brand.
  • If the breast pump isn’t doing its job, take it back to the shop. Just because it has won awards, doesn’t mean it is going to be right for you. Consider hiring a hospital grade pump or try a different brand. My friends took theirs back to the shop and decided on a Medela Swing, which they have been very happy with.

Here are the tips shared for successful pumping, which I hope will be useful for other mums:

  • Relax! (I know, I know….) Letdown is much slower if you are tense, so if you are really struggling and none of the tips below work, don’t keep pushing yourself. Leave it for half an hour and then try again.
  • More practically, Bach’s Rescue Remedy helps you relax and encourages letdown. I have no idea how it works, but it definitely does and I can highly recommend it for general use for tired and stressed new parents.
  • Warmth helps – try a heat pad while pumping, or have a warm bath or shower beforehand.
  • Gently massage your breast while pumping.
  • Lean forward as you pump. and try not to focus on the bottle – watch something light to distract yourself.
  • Use water on the breastshield to get a better seal.
  • Pump on one side while feeding on the other – baby will stimulate letdown.
  • Make sure you are drinking plenty and eating enough. This is the same whether you are breastfeeding or pumping – look after yourself to look after your baby!  
  • Try some “galactagogues” (things that support milk supply) eg. fenugreek and oatmeal.
  • If pumping is uncomfortable, consider hand expressing – it’s a gentler process, and can be just as effective.
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