During pregnancy, one of the fantansies one has is breastfeeding for the first time. When my second-born son Kayden turned six months, the first thing that I did was celebrate how I managed to exclusively breastfeed my little one for six months! You may wonder why someone who has given birth before is celebrating such a thing, well it’s a major achievement for me. I never got to breastfeed my firstborn for more than three months.
Let me start by talking about my breastfeeding experience with my firstborn. After Kian was born, the nurses told me to try to breastfeed him right away. I remember struggling to put him in the correct position to feed him. After several attempts, I gave up and said I would try the following day.
Early in the morning, my mom encouraged me to try and put him on the breast again. After getting the position right, we discovered he couldn’t properly latch as I had inverted nipples. That is when we decided to start giving him formula as we wait to sort out the latching issue.
Luckily, I had a friend who is a pediatrician at Queens and she referred me to an elderly nurse who works in the pediatric ward. When I went to meet her, she used a syringe to bring out my nipples. I had two sessions with her and we saw a huge improvement.
Because my son was used to having formula in the days that I couldn’t breastfeed, he was refusing to be put on the boob. I would pump once in a while to relieve engorgement but I never really dedicated more time to breastfeed or pump often. By the time Kian was turning three months, I had completely stopped breastfeeding and he was on formula full time.
A lot of health experts advise first-time moms to feed their babies like the first picture. Fingers have to create a C on the boob, your thumb holding the upper part while the other four support the lower part of the boob. They do not take kindly to a scissor shape as they believe it makes the milk shoot right into a baby’s throat which can cause choking.
Last year August, I got pregnant with my second born! I swore to myself I would try to exclusively breastfeed my little one. The first thing I did was research as much as I can about breastfeeding. I will share 5 breastfeeding tips I did and what worked for me.
6 breastfeeding tips that helped with my second baby
1. Introduce the baby to the boob immediately
After I delivered, I spent the first hour trying to breastfeed. One of the things I learned when I was researching is that the sooner you introduce the baby to the boob the better Boy this was true! My little guy was working his little butt off trying to suck. Even though there wasn’t much coming out there was the liquid gold called colostrum. This is very important as it helps build the immunity of babies.
2. Eat Much to Make Much
My mother made sure I was well fed for the milk supply to come. I remember she left the hospital around 8 pm looking for Thobwa. She came back with a SOBO bottle full of Thobwa. I had two cups and slept. The following morning I woke up with my boobs so swollen, full of milk! My little baby was such a pro suckling milk. I was so happy I was able to breastfeed.
Then came the sore nipples. My nipples were so sore and cracked and I would sometimes bleed. What helped was the nipple cream. When it hurt so bad I would just pump and give my son a bottle. Breastfeeding sometimes hurts, especially if the baby is having trouble latching. Don’t worry, your nipples will toughen up and the pain will go away.
One important thing to always do is make sure you are eating enough! I noticed that in the days that I didn’t consume enough calories I would not produce enough milk! They say that women who are breastfeeding are supposed to eat an extra 300 to 400 calories. Don’t worry about gaining weight, you are nourishing your baby’s body. In fact, breastfeeding women’s bodies burn anywhere from 200 to 500 extra calories per day.
3. Water is Important
Hydration is key! I would drink at least 2 liters of water per day and boy was I a milk-making machine! I was exclusively breastfeeding and I would most of the time still feel full after the baby has eaten. I would pump to make sure I am not engorged.
4. Pumping is the Answer
Talking about engorgement, there were a couple of things I did to manage it. Firstly I would make sure it doesn’t happen. If Kayden slept for a long time and missed a breastfeeding session, I would pump. In addition, immediately when I woke up I was also pumping as that’s when I was the fullest. Go ahead and invest in a good pump whether manual or electric.
A plus for pumping is that you are able to leave the baby and do something quickly while baby is with someone else. I started freezing my milk preparing for my return to work. Did you know frozen breast milk can be good for six months to one year? Luckily I was able to find breastmilk freezing packs right here in Malawi.
5. Demand and Supply
Another important thing to remember is that breastmilk is about supply and demand. The more you empty your breasts the more you will produce. Looking back at the experience with my firstborn, I think I gave up too quickly because I thought I wasn’t producing enough. Because I was supplementing with formula, ofcourse my body wasn’t producing enough because my brain thought the milk my baby was getting at the time I would breastfeed was enough for him. So out your baby on the boob as often as possible, or pump too. As they say it in Chichewa Kuyamwitsa mwakathithi!
6. Eat Milk Boosting Foods
Lastly, make sure you eat foods that boost your milk supply. I would eat jungle oats every morning even though I hate the taste of oats. I would also drink Thobwa and Maheu, eat cassava, potatoes and everything ‘believed’ to boost milk supply. There was a week that I slacked with pumping and I noticed a drop in my milk supply. I went to buy fenugreek seeds which I would put in the porridge. It has a very yucky taste and nasty smell but after three days I got my milk supply back up.
To sum it up, breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to some people and that’s okay. Don’t give up too early if you are having challenges. It is okay to ask for help if you cant get the hang of it right away. Ever wonder how women from the communities are able to exclusively breastfeed for six months? Well for them they don’t have the luxury to buy formula, but as I said it’s all about demand and supply. They are putting their babies on the boob and their body knows that’s their babies’ source of nourishment that’s why they have an abundance of breastmilk. Lastly, remember fed is best! Whether it’s breastmilk or formula.
Have more tips? Be kind and share them in the comment section below, this is a learning moment… 🙂