Breastfeeding tips for new mums

Chris Gill July 09, 2020
Breastfeeding tips for new mums

Last updated: February 6th 2019

Okay, expecting parents – it’s time we talked about newborns. Not idealised newborns. Not terrifying newborns. Real, living, breathing babies.

The last trimester of pregnancy is a rush of excitement, nesting, and, for some, a touch of the fear of the unknown. We talk to Lynne-Mckensey Hall, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and owner of Better Beginnings, to demystify some common misconceptions about newborns (seriously, whoever coined the term “sleeping like a baby” needs a word) and how to best prepare yourself for when your new bundle of joy arrives.

Baby newborn Boody 

Breastfeeding tips: Seek advice

Yes, breastfeeding is completely natural, but like anything it takes practice and a good foundation to work from. Essentially, while the parenting classes that hospitals provide are brilliant resources, Lynne believes there are a few pivotal aspects that are missing: namely prepping mums about those first five days with your newborn and helping arm the partners with some tips on how to help, too.

Lynne recommends seeking advice from an IBCLC or the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) so you understand the needs of your child and are equipped from the get-go with the right attitude and knowledge.

“Definitely have a session with an IBCLC about breastfeeding. Particularly if you’re really keen to do it, sometimes more information can be gained by speaking directly with an IBCLC…Not everyone can come to an IBCLC but certainly, a session with ABA would be helpful in terms of more specific information about breastfeeding. I do think that’s what’s missing,” she says. 

And remember: breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt

“The biggest myth is that people say breastfeeding hurts. Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt but if it does we need to find out why,” Lynne says.

“There are usually three reasons why it does: first, predominantly because baby hasn’t been positioned properly and the second is usually because of poor attachment – the second reason might be that we need to look for anatomical anomalies in the baby’s mouth. The third is that we might need to look more closely at mum – are there issues with mum?” Lynne continues. 

Newborn routines and the reality

There are a plethora of books and advice out there urging new parents to get their babies into a routine as quickly as possible. Lynne says this will happen organically, you just need to work with your baby’s cues – these tiny people know what they’re doing.

“A well and effectively-fed baby will self-regulate and fall into a pattern if parents would just relax and let the pattern evolve. A pattern is much more flexible than a routine,” she explains.

And yes: there are babies out there who will succumb to a routine and be set up as an ideal, but Lynne is quick to point out that these babies are the exception, not the rule.

“There’s a population of less than 1% of babies who will look as if they’ve read these books, but for the rest of us mere mortals, these babies just need to have someone be compassionate and responsive to their cues. If you follow the baby’s cues, just as you follow the subtle cues of your partner and other people in your circle, it would all fall into place just as easily,” she advises.

“I would challenge adults to ask themselves what routine they have themselves on. Are you looking at the clock every time you eat and drink?” she says. “Breastmilk is a high GI, perfectly balanced food and is often processed and digested within 45 minutes…and when you think of a baby who has a tiny tummy, it [a routine] seems pointless.”

Advice on newborns: apply a filter

Like we said above – there is a wealth of books and advice out there on how to manage your gorgeous new bub and make them fit within your lifestyle, but all that glitters is not gold. Lynne advises that any decision to do with your newborn and baby should be evidence-based, not to mention align with your own maternal instincts.

“Hormones change when women become pregnant and the hormone that changes when they have the baby is designed to help protect and feed their baby. What we then need to do is support that mother’s instinctive response with evidence-based practice rather than the nonsense out there written by these unqualified authors,” Lynne advises. “They are babysitters at worst. Seriously, it is a problem.”

Keep an open mind, but do make sure you do your due diligence when seeking out and reading advice. Just like us, babies do not come with a one-size-fits-all solution. 

So how does a typical newborn behave?

Your tiny person has no ulterior motive, no hidden agenda, they are very simple little humans. They pretty much just want to eat, sleep and feel safe. Yup, the mystery is unravelled into those three very basic needs.

“Two things you’ll never do wrong with a baby – you can never over-breastfeed a baby, we just ineffectively feed them because of misinformation and perhaps not having a comfortable enough feed,” Lynne says. “And you can never over-cuddle a baby. All you do is make them feel more secure and when they are more secure they will become independent at age-appropriate stages.”

She likens the first three to four months to the honeymoon period of a grown-up relationship – you just want to be close to that person.

“They want to be close, they need to be close and trying to remove them into areas where they’re not feeling secure isn’t teaching them anything…Just like adults, the more secure they feel in a relationship the more they feel they can be independent within that relationship,” she says.

As paediatrician Dr Benjamin Spock once famously said, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

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How to swaddle a baby in a muslin wrap


How to swaddle a baby in a muslin wrap

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How to cope with a new baby during COVID-19


How to cope with a new baby during COVID-19

Bringing your baby home from the hospital can be a surreal experience. There is a great deal of tears (from baby and parents), laughter, cooing, and chaos. But you don’t have to do it all by yourself – there are often family members and friends lining up to help you. At least, this was the case until 2020. With Victoria currently locked down and the threat of the second wave of the pandemic looming over the rest of Australia, isolation has become more important than ever. Of course, if you have a new baby at home, this can be easier said than done. In addition to handling your responsibilities as a new parent, you are also having to cope with the realities of parenting during COVID-19.  This can leave new parents feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Even if you have older children (which brings with it different challenges such as what’s being posted across social media), the idea of bringing up younger children during a pandemic is enough to put pressure on any parent. If parenting during COVID-19 is something that you’re struggling to do, here are some top tips to help you out during this difficult time.  Make sure you’re splitting duties  Before the outbreak, it was easy to get help from willing family members and friends. At the very least, you had a grandparent or two willing to hold the baby while you took a shower or ran some errands. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible anymore – new parents are on their own. Needless to say, this can lead to you feeling overwhelmed, since you have to juggle quite a bit more. So, how can you cope in this instance? Here, it is all about the division of labour. You and your partner should be equally sharing responsibilities. This way, the work gets cut in half. Not to mention, you will have a lot more time to spend together as well.  Take care of yourself  Whether it is the demands of being a new parent or the worries regarding COVID-19, it can be easy to stop taking care of yourself. You may not eat proper meals or fail to exercise on a regular basis. Not only can these bad habits compromise your health, but it can also have a negative impact on your mental health.  So, start by planning out your meals a little better. Not in the mood to cook? Look for healthy foods that you can whip up quickly, maybe even without turning your stove on. Keep the processed foods to a minimum and load up on fruits and vegetables instead.  If you can get some fresh air and exercise, do try to manage this. Take the proper precautions to wear a mask and ensure that your baby is well-protected to. Carry hand sanitiser and check that no one comes to close to you and your little one. You should also exercise indoors as well. Take a portable bed or cot and keep your little one beside you. Then, workout as needed. It will make you feel a whole lot better.  Look for online healthcare support It is natural to freak out about how your baby is doing as a new parent. Every sneeze or too-long cry can seem suspicious. To ensure that your baby is in peak health, accumulate a number of online healthcare contacts. This could be a paediatrician, pediatric nurse, or even a doula.  Just have someone that you can call or message if you have any questions. This way, you will be able to put your mind at ease and take some of the stress out of being a new baby. Remember that if you have serious concerns, though, it is best to take your baby to a hospital.  Social distancing doesn’t mean an end to socialising  The main problem with isolating during the pandemic is the feelings of isolation that come along with it! This can increase when you have a new baby. After all, this was supposed to be a time for you to show off your little one to family members and friends. Thus, you may feel especially removed from those closest to you, particularly your parents. Well, just because you need to partake in social distancing doesn’t mean that the socialising has to come to a total stop. Use technology to keep you with the people in your life. This is particularly important for new grandparents. They can often feel like they are missing out and may feel rather down about it. Video calls on a regular basis, however, can make them feel more involved.  These calls can be detrimental for your sanity as well. Talking to people – especially ones that haven’t thrown up on you that day – can act as a stress reliever. You can voice concerns, talk about any issues you may be facing, or simply gossip!  These are all the ways that you can cope as a new parent during the pandemic. It will be tough, but this is definitely something that you will be able to manage and get through.  Written by Chathurika Kahavita