One thing that new mums always worry about is feeding their newborn (and even as they get older, the confusion can continue). Here’re some pointers that helped my friends and I as we were learning how to feed our babies.
In general, what I found really useful was keeping a record of feeding patterns, at least at the beginning. Midwives, and then health visitors will ask about how often the baby is feeding, so it’s handy to have something written down to save your sanity & memory.
- Several friends said they kept a ‘breast feeding’ pack or basket, so they’d have everything with them each time they were feeding (drink, food, book, pen, phone etc)
- Drink lots of water during the day and even while feeding
- For building up milk supply (helpful during growth spurts, or if you’re feeling pressured if baby isn’t putting on as much weight as expected), eat lots of oats in any format. Fenugreek tablets (or presumably the spice!) are meant to help as well.
- Don’t listen to the ‘it shouldn’t hurt to breast feed’. Lots of people say there’s initial pain, then if it eases, it’s working fine. Any further pain could be something else that’s wrong (mastitis, thrush, the latch etc) so get it checked out.
- Don’t rely on hospital breast feeding experts if you struggle and want support…check out La Leche league or NCT helplines – they’ll even come out to you if possible. And expect that you’ll need help. Out of our group, if I remember rightly, all but one of those breast feeding had someone come out to help them. Also look out for local ‘baby cafes’ who have breastfeeding experts available for support and advice on techniques.
- Nipple shields – good if the baby is premature or if they struggle to suck, but often you don’t get told about these. Some people always need these, others wean off them once the baby gets better at feeding.
- Never ever feel ashamed or like a failure. Breast feeding doesn’t work for everyone – if you need someone to blame, blame the baby for being stubborn and not wanting to learn properly and then move on.
- You’ll never get advised to do so, but I and lots of other mums find that if you’ve got a baby that goes from happy to screaming for milk without any other indication, make up feeds for the day first thing in the morning and refrigerate.
- Avoid hungry baby milk – it bungs them up. Just feed as and when they want it, however often.
- Move to follow on milk at 6 months if they’re not allergic to anything/not premature etc – it’s cheaper, gets put on promotion and you get loyalty points on it vs newborn milk which is essentially the same thing. HV don’t advise it if you ask, as they say it’s just a marketing ploy and not necessary, but mine said she could see why you’d swap and it wouldn’t do any damage.
- If out and about, to be good and proper and get perfect temperature milk…take out powder in container, third of the amount needed of cooled boiled water in sterilised bottle and a thermos of boiled water to make up the other two thirds. Put powder in bottle of cooled boiled, top up with the boiled stuff, shake and it should be the right temperature. (I didn’t bother, just took out made bottles as was never out for long, but that’s not what you’re meant to do as it’s not refrigerated!)
- Some people have fussy babies who don’t like certain bottles. Tommee Tippee are pretty much the mainstream ones that lots of people use (don’t bother about the anti-colic versions as there’s a lot of faffing and more bits to get ‘unsterilised’ as you’re putting the bottles together. In my view, if your baby is going to get colic, they’re going to get colic), otherwise Medela are good (but pricy) if you’re also BF, Dr Browns also seem to go down well. Avent are fine and easily accessible, but some people swear by the cheap supermarket/Boots versions.
- Don’t worry too much about the amount it says for weight/age on the tins…go by what your baby wants. I found that the advised amount for his age didn’t match the advised amount for his weight. Plus he was quite a hungry baby so wanted milk every 2 1/2 hours in the day so I had to just work with what he wanted.
Hopefully some of these tips in my second of my baby hints and tips series will help others.
If you’ve got any tips to add, the comments are all yours!