Tools for the breastfeeding pro
MANILA, Philippines – Breastfeeding, much like the pregnancy journey, is full of high’s and low’s, joy and tears. Breastfeeding can hurt, especially in the beginning, and the baby’s need to constantly nurse can be overwhelming for some moms (READ: What they don't tell you about breastfeeding).
Moms need a lot of support so that they can continue nursing as long and as best as they can, because with really bad days, it’s all too easy to quit.
When something doesn’t feel right or when it hurts, don’t be afraid to seek help. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of getting the right latching done, or a change in breastfeeding positions that’s key to some peace and sanity. Breastfeeding is also a learned skill, so practice, practice, practice.
Chin up, mama
There are several tools available that can make nursing more comfortable for you and the baby, so chin up! When you’re comfortable, you’re less stressed, and when you’re less stressed, your body produces more oxytocin, or the feel-good hormone that’s responsible for breast milk moving to the front of the breasts.
So wouldn’t you know it, but a positive attitude helps a lot in successful breastfeeding. To help keep the positive vibes going, here are a few things that can help you become a breastfeeding pro.
- Lactation supplements or enhancers
Breastfeeding mamas need to start early and nurse as often as they can so that they can be assured of sufficient milk supply. Of course every baby is different, but for the most part, they can be quite voracious feeders in the first few months, so it’s a good thing to help the body produce the best milk it can and in ample quantities!
Lactation supplements can come in handy at this stage. Western cultures rely on galactagogues such as fenugreek, fennel and milk thistle. These are available locally too, but how they fare in terms of taste is subjective and they tend to be on the expensive side.
Filipina mothers on the other hand can count on malunggay as their breastfeeding buddy. A study by the Department of Pediatrics of the UP-PGH Medical Center in 2000 revealed that taking malunggay leaves is effective in enhancing lactation, and recommends the routine intake of malunggay among mothers to augment lactation and ensure an adequate supply of breast milk.
After all, you can only eat so much oatmeal, tinola or ginisang munggo for optimum breast milk production, and you’d also be taking advantage of malunggay’s many other benefits such as how it effectively relives constipation and normalizes blood sugar levels.
A fair warning however, that not all malunggay supplements are created equal, so make sure that you take a malunggay supplement that is clinically proven as a lactation enhancer.
- Nipple cream, virgin oil or your own breast milk
Who knew that your little bundle of joy could wreak havoc on poor defenseless breasts? And ‘havoc’ can mean anything from sore to cracked and bleeding nipples.
Once you get your latching right (it’s usually the cause of painful breastfeeding), you can now work on healing your breastfeeding wounds. All three options are effective, but breast milk is certainly the most economical.
Not a lot of mothers are aware that their own breast milk is effective in healing injured nipples and areolas. Moms can hand express some breast milk on a cotton ball and constantly drip the milk over the affected area. The key is to make sure the affected area is kept wet and that the breast is air dried.
Breast milk is also a better option if the mom has thrush – a yeast infection on the skin on the nipple, which can also be inside the baby’s mouth – because certain nipple creams encourage the growth of this infection.
When it comes to creams, lanolin is top-of-mind. The moisturizing emollient encourages faster healing of injured nipples while preventing scabs from forming. Apply some after feeding; you don’t even have to wash it off. If the baby has ingested some, it is totally safe, too. Make sure to purchase a lanolin cream that is 100% natural, hypoallergenic and contains no preservatives.
Not surprisingly, relief can also be found in your own kitchen. Extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil are recommended by a lot of mothers, and are just as safe and effective.
- Breast pads and nipple shields
Breastfeeding also comes with a little surprise – dripping and leaking breast milk. It can happen during the most inconvenient of times, like a sudden diaper run to the supermarket, and it could mean anything from a spot on your shirt to a real soak.
While the good thing is that you know that your body is taking its proper cue from your little one’s feeding habits and you are producing milk sufficiently, you can be spared of the embarrassment. Breast pads come in round disposable cotton or washable pads, and can easily be inserted inside your bra cup.
Nipple guards or shields catch the leaking milk and help protect wounded nipples and ease engorgement. You put them on your nipples as protection against chaffing and irritation from clothing especially when they are sore or cracked. Since they come with holes, they don’t touch the nipples directly and promotes faster healing.
A word of warning though, that while nipple shields do a great job of protecting your nipples from further injury, they may cut down the amount of milk that your baby can get from you. If your baby is not directly in contact with the breast, he won’t be able to suck well. Try to use it for a short time only.
- Breast pump
Working moms are big fans of the breast pump because it is more convenient and efficient in storing milk. Breast pumps come in manual and electric types, and choosing the best one will depend on how often you will use it, how portable you need it to be, and your budget. Moms these days can also consider themselves lucky that there are plenty of information and reviews online to help them decide better, especially because they can be really expensive.
Manual pumps are significantly cheaper, but there are usually more parts to take apart and carefully wash with each use. Some mothers also find it more painful to use.
Moms that need to be away from their babies or have full time work tend to prefer electric pumps because they are easier to transport and carry around, and they are durable enough for moms that would be pumping every 3 to 4 hours in a day.
With pumping also comes milk storage, so it would be good if partners, husbands and house helpers were also taught about proper breast milk storage and thawing. Storage containers specifically made for breast milk come in glass, hard plastic and milk storage bags, and breast milk can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (make sure it is stored at the back), or in the freezer for 2 weeks.
- Nursing clothes
A sturdy nursing bra is a given, but consider having a couple of nursing attire as well. The convenience of a nursing bra won’t matter a lot if you still need to lift your shirt, or fumble with buttons to nurse, especially if you’re out of the house and dealing with a wailing, hungry baby.
The beauty of nursing clothes is that they look like regular clothes – they come in tank tops, short sleeved and long sleeved shirts - but tank tops come with straps that can be unclasped, and shirts are in a crossover design that can easily be pulled down for discreet feeding. They’re ingenious and won’t make you look frumpy.
Maybe it’s about making peace with the fact that there will be days that breastfeeding will seem like a chore or even a kind of punishment, but remember that you are not alone - other moms have gone through this, and survived (READ: Make breastfeeding work for you)!
Your child deserves the best, so give it all you’ve got. The sense of achievement that comes with getting used to breastfeeding – for you and your child – is indescribable.
Pretty soon, with a little help, nursing will become part of your daily routine. You’ll be sharing your experience and insights with other moms and friends, and before you know it, you’ve become a breastfeeding pro. – Rappler.com
Breastfeeding is the pinnacle of a mother’s love. Natalac is the first clinically proven effective lactation enhancer in the Philippines. 3 separate studies conducted between 1994 and 1995 show that mothers who took Natalac saw an increase in their milk production and their infants showing substantial weight gain. Natalac supports mothers in their breastfeeding journey with quality Moringa Oleifera supplements.