The Breast Help – Interview

The Breast Help – Interview

Interview with Harriet, founder of the The Breast Help, a mother to three little boys and registered Midwife with a Graduate Certificate in Child and Family Health.

If bub is feeding and putting on weight well, do you still recommend that mum expresses milk in the early days?

If baby is thriving on your supply then I see no need to express. It’s all about why you would want to pump. By feeding to your baby’s demand your body receives clear signals to produce the correct quantity of milk required for your unique baby. Oversupply can be a common result of a new mother breastfeeding on demand and pumping to store breastmilk. Oversupply of breastmilk occurs when the body produces more milk than the baby needs. This can lead to a variety of challenges for both the mother and the baby. While some women may find this to be a blessing, others may struggle with discomfort, engorgement and other issues like a windy, uncomfortable baby.

This is why it is important to have a reason to pump. If you’re hoping to create a “stash” of milk for the infrequent bottle, or implement a regular bottle feed into your routine, after the first six weeks can be your opportunity to pump a bit more without stimulating your supply too much. Prior to 6 weeks your body is catching all the signals it can find to make more milk and this can be a good or a bad thing depending on your situation.

If you do wish to express within the first six weeks I suggest catching small amounts of breastmilk following some feeds throughout the day, store them separately in the back of the fridge, and when ready (and all bottles are the same cold temperature) you can combine all the small amounts to create one bottle for your baby to feed. If you are skipping a breastfeed you should replace with a pumping session to continue to signal to your body the amount of times in a day your baby feeds. As you become more confident with your supply you may skip this step if it’s just the occasional bottle-feed.

Do you support the use of a dummy for newborns? If I introduce it, when the best time to try and remove it?

I support any tool that makes your journey through parenthood better. And that’s exactly what a dummy is – a settling tool. If dummies are used thoughtfully they can be a great weapon to help settle a baby without the breast – but we need to treat it that way. The dummy is a nipple replacement, not the other way around – so for newborns we need to ensure that baby has had an adequate feed prior to offering the dummy as an alternative to the breast.

For settling to sleep, treat the dummy like it is an attachment of you – once baby is asleep aim to remove the dummy so that baby doesn’t rely on it to remain asleep, and optimal sleeping tongue posture can be supported. In a sleep state, the tongue should be suctioned to the roof of the mouth. There is a cluster of nerves on the roof of baby’s mouth. With tongue pressure on those nerve endings it sends strong messages to the baby’s brain that they are safe and stable (and able to settle into decent nap!).

In the ideal world weaning a baby from dummy use should be from 6-12 months with the aim to be completely weaned at 18months, but this can be a difficult task for a child who relies heavily on the dummy for comfort and a sense of security.

Having the dummy completely weaned before the age of 3 allows negotiations and rewards to assist with the weaning journey from a beloved dummy.

What is your advice for a woman who is sick with cold or flu and is breastfeeding? How does this affect the baby?

If you are unwell and breastfeeding a young baby you need to focus on rest, hydration and nutrition for yourself while you continue to breastfeed. Be reassured that your baby has a beautiful immunological protection from the breastmilk you are feeding them, and antibodies from your body’s immune system will be sent through your breastmilk to protect baby from the very pathogens that have caused your current cold or flu.

Any words of wisdom for mothers who are struggling with breastfeeding and losing confidence?

Reach out for help and support sooner rather than later. We don’t know what we don’t know! So by having someone watch you breastfeed your baby, and suggest simple adjustments or create a plan to improve your current feeding it can change the whole trajectory of your feeding journey.

There are so many factors that affect breastfeeding initiation and continuation, and the majority of the time breastfeeding difficulties aren’t a result of something the mother has or hasn’t done – its often just a result of something else. So loose the blame, know that you are the expert of your baby and there are health professionals (like me!) out there wanting the best for you and your family!

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