Trust Your Baby
- Your new baby has fairly simple needs – to be held and fed often, to be changed when his nappy is wet or soiled, to be responded to when he ‘speaks up’ and to feel loved, nurtured and adored.
- Let your baby be your guide. Watch your baby, not the clock. Your baby doesn’t know how to tell the time! What he does know is when he’s hungry, when to sleep and when he needs your comfort. Let your baby guide you by his behaviours – when he opens his mouth towards you seeking the breast; when his eyes are drooping and he gives a tired yawn. A clock can’t tell you when these things should happen. And yet mums are led to believe that babies must feed at particular intervals (every 3 hours being the most common misconception). You don’t need to wake your baby to feed. There is no science behind feeding and sleeping routines. In fact, recent research has found a link between following routines and much higher rates of Postnatal Depression.
- Your baby was born to breastfeed – he’s got this. Each feed can differ significantly in length of time and the amount of milk baby takes. Your baby knows how often and how much milk he needs. In the same way we grab a quick drink, a small snack or sit down to a larger meal, each day you baby will set his own natural pace and rhythm for feeding and sleeping. His feeding pattern is controlled by his size and appetite and your milk production (which actually changes throughout the day). He knows what he’s doing.
- Trust your ‘Mummy gut’ as you learn to read your baby’s cues. You know your baby better than anyone else. Your baby will communicate to you his needs – trust your instinct!
Each feed can differ significantly in length of time and the amount of milk baby takes. Your baby knows how often and how much milk he needs.
Seek help early from those best qualified to advise you
- It’s never too early or too late to seek help with your breastfeeding journey. But just as your breastfeeding experience will be enhanced with the right advice the wrong advice can make it downright confusing.
- An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a breastfeeding expert and is the best suited practitioner to answer your breastfeeding questions and support you through any challenges. IBCLCs are commonly also nurses and midwives and can be found in your hospital, at your local health centre or in private practice and can visit you at home.
- When seeking help from another health professional don’t be afraid to ask them what their breastfeeding knowledge base and skills are. Your GP, paediatrician or obstetrician may not have breastfeeding-specific training and may offer well meaning advice but may not be the best resource for accurate advice. In the same way you would see a cardiac specialist for your heart problems it makes sense to see a breastfeeding specialist for your breastfeeding concerns.
- Local Breastfeeding Support Groups – The Australian Breastfeeding Association (in Australia) and La Leche League (in NZ) run breastfeeding classes for pregnant and postnatal mums. These are run by breastfeeding counsellors and lactation consultants. Meet other local parents-to-be, learn about breastfeeding and start your support network.
When seeking help from another health professional don’t be afraid to ask them what their breastfeeding knowledge base and skills are.
A final note
Caring for a newborn is hard work. It’s tiring. It sometimes feels relentless with frequent feeds, changing nappies, getting wind up, long days and nights. But as parents we wouldn’t change it for anything. It can be hard to find the right advice in the right place and at the right time which is where I hope to fill the gap with my book Born to Breastfeed – the first six weeks. Arming yourself with an understanding of how breastfeeding works and having realistic expectations will help you ward off the well-intentioned but incorrect advice. Trust your mummy gut and do what feels right for both you and your baby. In just a short time you will find your breastfeeding confidence.
Rowena Gray is a mother to 3 young daughters, nurse, midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and has been both a consumer and giver of copious amounts of breastfeeding advice! She is the author of Born to Breastfeed – the first six weeks and beyond. Described as having your very own personal Lactation Consultant on your bookshelf, its easy to read layout includes trouble-shooting tables to help you match your baby’s behaviour to what is happening with breastfeeding.