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Remember that Fed is Best!
The way that YOU choose to feed your baby is the BEST way for you both.
Out of the mums that I have worked for over the my career, I have seen SO many different feeding scenarios, every baby and mum on a different journey.
For me, I am planning to breastfeed but also want to be prepared for bottles if needed. I don’t want to put ANY pressure on myself and just know that a fed baby is a happy baby! So many mums are full of guilt which has no positive impact on mama or baby. I know this is easy to say in the third trimester of pregnancy but at least I can come back and read this if I’m having a difficult time!
I am going to start hand expressing colostrum at 37 weeks (after checking with my midwife that this is safe to do so).
Your midwife will give you sterilised syringes for the tiny drops of gold! I will let you know how I get on with this process in a couple of weeks time.
It will be tiny amounts, but can really make a difference to a sleepy newborn who is too tired to feed.
Instead of deleting the above, I just want to say, when I had Nico and I was in the newborn bubble I did not remember any of this and was an emotional sobbing mess! See my ‘feeding story’ in my Instagram highlights to find out more, but it was a rollercoaster of emotions!
I also wasn’t able to hand express any colostrum during pregnancy and this made me really worry that I wouldn’t have enough milk for my baby. Everyone is different and if is not an indication of your milk supply. Just relax and keep trying.
There are some great articles online – Vanessa Christie, Lactation consultant has recently written about this, more information on her Instagram.
A little acronym for you to remember when breastfeeding is CHIN
Close – Keep baby close to you, tummy to mummy
Head Free – Allow baby to come on and off the breast, hand on shoulders
In Line – With you
Nose to Nipple – Smelling the milk and opening wide to latch
Things to prepare for feeding your baby
Everyone will tell you that ‘Breast is Best’, however the way you feed your baby is YOUR choice and you must follow your instincts and your body. I feel being prepared is key, like anything in life. Here are some items that I feel would be great to have for your feeding journey.
Fed is Best!
FOOD! Snacks and bottles of water where ever you will be sitting with your baby to feed. You need to get comfy as you may be there a while! I found flapjacks/granola bars and nuts really good snacks to have ready, and digestive biscuits! Porridge for me was the best way to start the day.
A supply of muslins
There will never be enough! They are just so useful for putting over your shoulder after you have fed, tucking under the chin to wind. Basic ones are absolutely fine, there are organic, bamboo, all different colours and styles. Just make sure you have a good selection around the house.
I have always loved the brand Aden & Anais as they wash really well and are made to last but you really can never have enough! At four months, Nico loves to snuggle with a muslin to go to sleep.
Their big muslins are also a definite Loved by Laura for so many uses, from swaddling, covering up for feeding, tummy time on the floor!
Lansinoh nipple cream
Worth having, although good LATCH should mean that it doesn’t cause nipple trauma. If you are really suffering I would have baby checked for tongue tie as this could be really affecting the latch. I didn’t use this as much as I thought I would have done, for me it felt strange him consuming it when feeding, even though it is said that it is safe to do so.
You may need in the last trimester of pregnancy as your breasts start to prepare to get ready to feed your baby. You have the options of disposable or washable, which ever works best for you. I am starting out with these by natracare as they are chemical free but also have some washable ones which I will try.
Strangely enough I didn’t need ANY nipple pads during pregnancy or even in my four months as a breastfeeding mum! I haven’t had any leaking milk. This has always fuelled my insecurities that I don’t have much milk as most people do need them.
Natracare Nursing Pads
Heat & cool pad
This heat pad was a must have when my milk came in.
The shower or bath can also be a great place for feeding if you are feeling engorged, or just in need of relaxation. You will need your partner to give you a hand, passing you baby and then taking baby to get dressed after the feed. Have some candles and your favourite playlist on and enjoy the relaxation of the water with your little one. This may help your ‘let down’ if you are feeling relaxed.
Lansinoh Therapearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy
Another good option is cabbage leaves – make sure it is a savoy cabbage. Pop the leaves in your bra for 10-20 minutes and you may feel some relief. Its a bit of old old wives tale but i’ve seen results!
I like the MAM nipple shields, they are great to have in your bag just in case your nipples become sore and you need a break, just make sure you have the right size for your babies mouth.
I’ve worked with lots of babies happy to feed through shields but you may hear advice not to use them as they can affect the yield of milk. You are likely to find lots of contradicting advice but go with what feels best for YOU and your baby.
They are not always a long term solution but can be a godsend if needed, and I have known mums to only ever feed with shields!
MAM Nipple Shields
Which Breast Pump is best?
This is a question I am asked a lot, and although there are brands that I like, it really depends on YOU and your SUPPLY.
I have always loved Medela as I really believe their level of customer service is above and beyond. I also like the MAM pump as it can be hand or electric, it also has covers for the funnels and its not too noisy. However every mum, breast and baby is completely unique and you may find one suits you much better than another. Its best to wait until feeding is establishing in those early weeks if you can, and get into your own rhythm of feeding for you and your baby.
Please don’t put any pressure on yourself to pump especially in the early weeks, as your baby is the best at removing milk from the breast. Supply is so different for everyone. If you need more support, get in touch with your health visitor.
La Leche league are an amazing organisation that have a dedicated breastfeeding support line www.laleche.org.uk 0345 120 2918
MAM 2-in-1 Single Breast Pump (Electric and Manual Use) – I was kindly gifted this pump.
If on your breastfeeding journey and you want to make pumping part of your daily routine, other options to look at are hospital grade hire. You will be able to rent this on a monthly basis. I have worked with mums who have not been able to express from any shop bought pump but had much better results from the hospital grade such as the Medela Symphony.
I had heard first hand from new mums that the new Elvie pump is a complete game changer, it has a big price tag at around £250 for single pump but I heard it is worth its weight in gold. It does all depend however on your personal production, so I would hold off buying any expensive pump until your little one is here. Milk yield varies SO much.
MY personal experience of the Elvie was that it did not work for me, as I just didn’t have enough milk. I found it also leaked and for me just didn’t work so I sold it on to someone who is loving it!
Remember that sleep and good nutrition is SO important for milk production. Try and get naps where you can in the early days/weeks and eat hot nutritious meals as this will promote your milk supply.
This HAAKAA pump just goes onto your breast using suction. Its so simple and yet SO effective. I think I actually got more milk from this than any of the pumps that I tried! Its also the cheapest, so definitely worth getting. You just put it onto one breast whilst feeding on the other side.
Should I give my baby a dummy?
Over the years I have found that dummies are a bit of a ‘marmite’ product! Some families/babies LOVE them, others completely hate them! Every baby is different, never force a dummy on a baby and let them take it if they want to.
They can be a godsend for very ‘sucky’ babies, or little one’s with reflux. It is best not to introduce a dummy until breastfeeding is established, which is usually around six weeks. My midwife told me to try Nico with a Dummy at 3 weeks and it gave me freedom, suddenly I was able to go on longer walks and it was the only way to not have him constantly attached to me! You just have to make sure that you don’t miss feeds in the early weeks.
My advice would be to only use them for six months and if you find you are doing the ‘dummy dance’ its time to wean them off.
The only dummy that Nico would take was the MAM.
You can start off without a specific feeding pillow, and use pillows/cushions. However positioning is really important for you and your baby. Making sure you are comfortable before you start, with everything that you need close to hand. I really love the brand BBHug me and I’m really excited to try the nursing pillow when my baby is here.
You need to make sure baby has a good position, close to you, and head free to come on and off the breast as needed. Make sure once that baby is in a good position that you are also comfortable as you may be there a little while!
BBHugme Nursing Pillow
There are a huge range of bottles available, all claiming to do different things for your baby. In my experience, if you introduce within the first month baby is likely to take it. Every baby however is different with their own needs so its worth trying a few different ones if they are struggling.
I have always liked the MAM bottles and find lots of babies very happy to accept them. My personal choice is the glass as I just prefer to plastic. Nico loves them.
MAM Glass Bottle
I just find it much easier to introduce at this stage as there can reach a point where baby just will not take a bottle. This is not for everyone however and just personal opinion.
It does however depend on your breastfeeding experience and how established you are – if you feel that the bottle is affecting the breastfeeding then stop the bottle and carry on with just the breast. Every baby and new mum is so different and what works for some people isn’t what will work for you. Always seek support if you are at all worried.
If your little one suffers with reflux, Dr Browns could be a good option.
Dr Brown’s Options Wide Neck Starter Kit
A steriliser is a must have for bottle feeding, for expressed breast milk or formula and your breast pump equipment.
I am very interested to see that Vital Baby have just released a new steriliser in partnership with John Lewis, this is a UV steriliser and the first one of its kind! I haven’t yet used this product so I can’t give an insight but it looks amazing.
I have enjoyed using the MAM steriliser with families, that also doubles up as a bottle warmer too. It can be used either as a microwave or an electric steriliser. The MAM bottles also have the advantage that they can be sterilised individually in the microwave.
MAM Electric Steriliser
Tommee Tippee Electric Steam Steriliser
Washing of bottles is very important, in fact this part of the process is as important as the sterilising – wash them in hot soapy water, with a bottle brush, getting into the end of the teats where formula powder can build up.
Dr Browns Bottle and Teat Brush
Rinse them well before popping them into the steriliser.
For bottle feeding, a question I am asked a lot is ‘which formula is best’. This is a complete personal choice, I would just recommend that you get organic if possible.
I have used so many different brands, and also worked for families abroad who used pasteurised donkey milk for their newborn! There is a lot of research to show that this is the closest to breast milk.
For an insight to the world of formula milk, there was recently a documentary on channel 4 by dispatches which is definitely worth a watch. The findings were that the most expensive formula brands are purely for marketing and that the supermarket own brand are just as good for your new baby. You also can stay on the first stage one milk rather than changing on to the ‘follow on’ as this again is just a marketing process.
For making up a bottle of formula safely, always follow the guidelines on the product.
There is some great information on this site – www.firststepsnutrition.org
The Tommee Tippee prep machine is a very popular choice for making formula feeds safely but I have not had a good experience so I prefer to use freshly boiled and freshly cooled water.
Formula powder is not sterile which is why water added needs to be 70 degrees to kill any bacteria in the product. A great ‘just in case purchase’ is the ready made sterile bottles that you can have and feed straight away if needed.
This isn’t a good long term option but can be instantly ready (you can give at room temperature) which is a good back up option!
Hipp Organic Ready Made Bottles
Tommee Tippee Travel Food Warmer
Another product I love is the Tommee Tippee thermos. This can be used to keep cooled boiled water for making up feeds. It is also a portable bottle warmer, which is great for out and about.
I also like to use it for keeping water warm for topping and tailing baby.
My Little Koala
For breastfeeding, if you feel you need a cover up for when you’re out and about, I like this one:
You can alternatively just use a nice big muslin, or nothing at all, everyone is different!
Cover Me Baby
Another GREAT multi use product that I’ve recently been introduced to is ‘Cover Me Baby’
This great product can be used to cover you as a poncho for feeding, but also many more uses such as in the trolley in the supermarket or on a high chair!
For covering the pram or car seat I prefer to use a Snooze Shade but this cover up is so useful for the change bag!
Clare Byam Cook
I have always been a great fan of feeding specialist, Lactation Consultant, Clare Byam Cook – she does great talks at The Baby Show in London which is on twice a year. She speaks no nonsense practical advice to support your breastfeeding journey.
For a consultation with Clare please ring her on 020 8788 8179 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
She has many great books which I would highly recommend.
If you are struggling with feeding, there is lots of support out there for you – contact me and I can put you in touch with the best person and give any advice I can.
Happy Mum, Happy Baby – Fed is best! xx