Breastfeeding essentials from Sioned Hilton

Whether you are six months pregnant, or you are now a proud parent, the topic of breastfeeding will not have passed you by. To help our readers the Birmingham Gazette had a chat to Sioned Hilton; Lactation Consultant and Education Manager at Medela UK, the world’s leading breastfeeding company, to find out more. 

Sioned has been working with Breastfeeding mums for more than 20 years and has given us some essential breastfeeding info below:

Preparing for your baby: Your body is extremely clever and will start preparing for your unborn baby’s arrival from the moment he is conceived. You will notice some changes during this time but this is completely natural.

What to look out for? At around 16-18 weeks your breasts will begin to change and develop for their all important role of breastfeeding. Breast tissue, for making milk, continues to develop from this point until birth. Your breasts will grow bigger, they may feel tender and some mums may experience a few leaks. This is nothing to worry about and can be controlled with a breast pad and supportive bra.

You may have already made your decision to breastfeed months ago, but as the due date draws near, many mums have some questions. Three common questions answered:

So what happens if you’d like to breastfeed but due to the high number of women who given up keep wondering if it’s worth trying at all? Lots of mums have great success and it is such a rewarding experience it is definitely worth trying. Mothers give up for various personal reasons but everyone is different and if you come across any problems help is always available and many supportive products can get you through the initial teething problems. Breastmilk will unarguably give your newborn the best start and it is advised this is your number one choice for your baby for the first 6 months.

I want to breastfeed but I’m sure I’ll be very self-conscious. How can I get over this? Firstly you must be proud of yourself, breastfeeding is the most wonderful thing you can do for your baby and you certainly must not feel ashamed. It is natural however to feel a little self conscious but there are many ways to overcome this. Something as simple as a square of muslin laid over your shoulder and covering your baby whilst breastfeeding will make you feel more comfortable. Specific products are available these days to help you cover up.

*Product tip: A feeding top such as Carriwell’s Kaj top or the clever breastvest will help.

Formula has improved so much now that I wonder if breastmilk is still really the best for your baby? Breastmilk is a totally unique and clever substance that can, in no way, be matched by formula. Breastmilk changes day by day to adapt to and meet your babies ever changing needs and growth spurts, and its unique properties also helps fight infection also.

It all happens naturally…breastfeeding from day one: Once your baby is born, you will start to produce a substance called colostrum. This is like a concentrated version of breastmilk filed with antibodies and nutritious goodness for your baby. Following this period, between days 3-5, your milk, that is tailor made for your baby, will come in. This may leave your breasts full and tender – a cool compress and gentle massage may relieve some of the pressure too.

*Interesting fact: Your baby’s tummy is the size of a small marble so the amount of colostrum produced will be just the right amount for your baby.

Breastfeeding in practice: Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things a mother can do for her baby and your baby will instinctively know to search out your nipple. But, there may be the odd hurdle along the way. The step by step guide should provide some support:

  • To breastfeed the baby needs to have his body in the optimal position where his nose is in a straight line to his belly button.

 

  • He needs to be supported by mothers hand behind his shoulders – this allows the baby’s head to tilt back slightly so he can open his mouth wide ( think about how we drink from a glass we lift our chin to the lip of the cup and tilt our head backwards) this is the same for a breastfeeding baby.
  • Place the baby’s nose in alignment with the nipple and rest the baby’s chin on the breast and gently supporting the baby shoulders bring baby to the breast – baby should open his mouth wide.

 

As you are starting your breastfeeding journey you may wonder how often you are supposed to breastfeed, however, every baby is different and will have a unique feeding pattern. 


On average a baby will feed every couple of hours as breastmilk is easy to digest and always in production, but it does vary for each individual mother and baby. If your baby likes to feed every few hours it may be that your breasts have a smaller storage capacity and he is a frequent feeder. The baby who feeds every 3-4 hours may have a mother with a larger storage capacity. Over the day both babies will have a similar volume of milk and be getting all the benefits of their mum’s milk.

*Product tip: If your nipples get sore at any stage you can try applying hypoallergenic lanolin based ointment such as PureLan by Medela to the nipple to aid healing, this does not need to be wiped off before a feed.

What you eat does affect your breastmilk: This is important to bear in mind, although a well-balanced diet is essential so in the early days carry on eating what you normally do. Drink a normal quantity of fluids approximately 1.5 – 2 litres per day, but avoid too much tea and coffee as they contain caffeine. You may find that you are thirsty when feeding so have a drink nearby. If you want to have an alcoholic drink bear in mind that it does cross into your milk so if you are planning on having more than 1-2 units of alcohol (a 175ml glass of wine is 2 units!) avoid breastfeeding for 2-3 hours after drinking (Breastfeeding Network– www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk) if you need to empty the breast for comfort you can express and discard the milk.

*interesting fact: Certain foods such as greens can cause a bit more gas but implement calming strategies such as baby massage or skin to skin time can manage this discomfort.

That’s it for now but please keep a look out as in the coming weeks as we will be giving you more advice on feeding whilst out and about next week, getting dads involved and answering some of the common questions new parents ask.

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