Wednesday | July 6, 2016

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Oh the struggle! It’s not an easy feat breastfeeding when you are well endowed in the chest area. Even with my education and experience as a lactation educator, I struggled in those early weeks with our newest addition. When babe is new and learning how to breastfeed, getting a good latch can make all the difference. But it’s not just about the latch. Newborns are so teeny and small that they too need to be supported so we always like to recommend a good firm breastfeeding pillow to bring baby up to mom’s breast so that she isn’t leaning down which can also lead to a host of back troubles. So, we tell moms to support their breast and support baby but with large breasts and only two hands……what’s a mom to do?. Public nursing can provide many more challenges as it’s not as easy to be discrete, use a cover (if mom feels more comfortable) and see baby all at once. That’s a mouthful! (literally)

There are some things I’ve learned along the way that I think can help so I hope you find these tips useful as you embark on your breastfeeding journey with your little ones.

Get a really good nursing pillow – this can make all the difference for mom’s learning how to latch babe. A good firm nursing pillow is really key to building your nest when feeding baby as it will support baby while raising him to your breast. Sometimes, a pillow can put additional space between you and baby which can lead to an improper latch and sore nipples so be mindful that baby should be touching you tummy to tummy. There are some moms that in fact don’t need a pillow at all and baby can lay comfortably on mom’s lap without mom having to lift her breast. Should you want the extra support, I highly recommend the Baby Buddy nursing pillow which was designed with a lactation consultant’s help and owned by a local fellow doula. Check them out here.

Support your breast when nursing – this is really important in the early weeks when baby is very small. We recommend moms support their breast using the C hold with their fingers below the bottom areola and their thumb at the top. It is helpful to compress the breast like you would a sandwich in the same shape as baby’s mouth. Think about when we eat a tall stacked burger, we would typically squish it in order to get the food into our mouths to take a bite. You want to do the same thing with your breasts to assist baby in getting as much of the areola as possible. Remember to keep your lower fingers far back and away from the areola so baby can get a nice deep mouthful. Be sure baby is tummy to tummy with you as you don’t want baby lying on his back and your breasts resting on his chest….the weight of the breast can cause breathing restrictions. Give your baby time to get latched and everything arranged in his mouth before you relax your support or baby will lose your nipple. Sometimes we need our hands and it can be tiring supporting your breasts for those long nursing sessions, so you can take a small receiving blanket and roll it to place under your breasts to support and lift it so that baby can remain latched without the weight of the breast on his chin causing him to release.

Use the Football (Clutch) Hold when learning – The football position is really great in the early weeks when practicing getting a nice deep latch. It will allow you to support your breast while guiding baby up towards the nipple and viewing the latch to watch for good drinking. You’ll be able to change it up soon enough once baby becomes a pro at nursing. As your baby grows you can try side-lying which works really well for most large-breasted mama’s and it allows you to maximize rest too.

Get a good supportive nursing bra – This is important! If the bra does not fit properly the pressure of the seams into the breast cause cause milk producing tissue to be restricted which can then lead to plugged ducts and infections. Wait to purchase a nursing bra until the last few weeks of pregnancy and be sure to buy a larger size allowing for extra room in the cup and around the rib cage. Two of my favourites are the Cake nursing bra and Bravado as they are super cushy, supportive and stretchy for  those ever-changing breasts.

Relax!  – those first early weeks can be hard. Baby is learning too and you’re exhausted. Please honour your fourth trimester and enjoy those precious moments with your baby. Practice lots of skin-skin and feed baby often to ensure you establish a good milk supply. Discrete nursing in public can be tricky when things are new so it can be helpful to practice in front of a mirror or your partner which will help you gain the confidence you need to feel comfortable nursing outside the home. Get as much rest as you can and ask for help when you need it. In a few short months this will all be second nature to you.

If you are struggling, please seek help as early as you can to ensure your breastfeeding journey gets off to the right start. Good breastfeeding has nothing to do with how it looks but rather, it’s all about how good it feels and how well it works (LLLI, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding). If you are not comfortable or baby is not getting milk well then something should be adjusted. We can provide you some additional tips and ideas to get this corrected or refer you to fabulous local resources that are the best in the biz.

Do you have any tips that helped you with breastfeeding? Please share them below!

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