Without a doubt, one of the hardest aspects of the first few weeks and months of adjusting to parenthood is adjusting to feeding.
There are so many factors involved and so many opinions being hurled at you. Combine that with sleep deprivation and a cocktail of hormones surging through your body and it can be seriously overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here’s what the experts want you to know…
1. The importance of a full feed
Chris Minogue, Registered Mothercraft Nurse – The Nurtured Way
In those early weeks of bringing your new baby home, it’s really important to get to know them.
In terms of the feeding, this is going to take time and patience, whether you’re breast or bottle feeding the babies feeds are about the same amount; about 7-9 feeds in 24 hours.
If you’re a breastfeeding mama, remember to feed that baby fully by offering your first side of the breastfeed, draining that until it’s softened. Then burping the baby, before offering the second. This way, you’ll get a full feed, and you’ll get a good sleep period from the baby.
Let your baby lead, get comfortable with your feeding, block out all that external noise, and you will enjoy the moment.
2. Don’t use a microwave to heat baby’s bottles
Sarah Hunstead, Paediatric First Aid – CPR Kids
I’ve got two tips for you when it comes to safely feeding your baby.
First of all, when it comes to night feeds, make sure you set everything up before you go to bed. The last thing that you need is falling over with bub in arms over the obstacle course in your room. So please make sure that you have a clear path to the baby and everything next to you that you need for the night.
The other tip is don’t use a microwave to heat up bottles of either breastmilk or formula. What can happen is the contents of the bottle can heat unevenly which is a risk for burns. So always make sure that you’re heating the bottles in warm water.
3. Staying hydrated as a new mama
Mandy Sacher, Paediatric Nutritionist – Wholesome Child
Whether breastfeeding or formula feeding your baby, it’s so easy to get caught up on your baby and forget about yourself. But try to remember to stay hydrated!
Drinking two litres of water per day is not always easy, so why not try adding your favourite fruit to it? Cutting down on caffeine or focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables that naturally contain water that will help to keep your energy stores up.
The other thing that we don’t want to forget about is nutrient-dense snacks. I know it’s easy to reach for junk food or sugary and salty foods. But instead, try focusing on things like quality proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates that help keep your energy stores stable throughout the day.
4. Get set up for feeding success (and comfort!)
Lyz Evans, Women’s Health Expert – Women in Focus
Feeding is so difficult for many people and amongst all the challenges and stress that come with it. We need to remember to look after the source of the feed: which of course is the mother.
Whether that’s breast or bottle-fed, it doesn’t matter, what we need to do is make sure that the mother can actually last the distance of feeding.
So you need to think about your setup when you feed. You wouldn’t sit at a computer all day and not expect to have back pain and neck issues – and it’s the same for feeding.
So take your time to open up your shoulders, have multiple little pillows to actually bring the baby on, look at bub to attach, and then pull back after the feed.
Make sure that you actually open up through the shoulders and undo what you’ve just done for that period of feeding through stretches and mobility.
Psst: I also want you to really get to know your boobs. There are little signs that your boobs will give you like you’re starting to feel a little bit hot, or a bit of a harder tend to lump. These are signs that we want to look for things like mastitis and we want to make sure that we’re getting onto the early.
5. It doesn’t matter where that nutrition is coming from; they just need you
Jaimie Bloch, Child and Family Clinical Psychologist – Mind Movers Psychology
Feeding! What an amazing and important topic to talk about. I know as a new mum myself being in that hospital, those first 48 hours are so stressful.
You’re getting opinions from a million different midwives coming in and out at different times. As well as pressure from other new mums and that can cause a lot of anxiety.
No matter where your child is getting their nutrition from, the most important thing to focus on is your baby’s cues and tuning into them. Meeting those emotional connection needs because that’s all the child needs for their brain to develop.
It doesn’t matter where that nutrition is coming from; they just need you. That’s the most important thing so don’t feel ashamed if your feeding journey is hard.
6. Feeding takes time to establish. And that’s ok! OR Feeding is a learned skill and it takes time.
Genevieve Muir, Obstetric Social Worker and Parent Educator – Connected Parenting
If I could just tell new parents one thing, I would tell them that feeding is not just an innate thing we should just know how to do. It’s a learned skill. And it takes most babies about six weeks to get the hang of it.
I think new parents need to just surrender to the fact it’s gonna look and feel a little bit messy in the first few weeks. We need to just be really kind to ourselves and accept that it won’t look perfect, but if we stick with it, week by week, day by day, it gets a little bit easier.
Many people are really surprised when I let them know that my hardest baby to feed was my fourth. I fed three other babies before him, and he really took a full six weeks to get the hang of it. That can be surprising because we think it’s all about us, when in fact it’s all about that little person, learning how to do this for the very first time.
This is a paid partnership between Kiindred x Mustela.