7 tips for encouraging a positive breastfeeding journey in the first 6 weeks
This journal post on breastfeeding during the fourth trimester, and more importantly the first 6 weeks was inspired by a wonderful podcast with Amberley Harris. ‘Talking Tits’ on Beyond the Bump. We put up a post on our instagram shortly after listening but decided the information deserved a permanent spot on our website.
I am so passionate about breastfeeding and the fourth trimester. How you spend the first 6 weeks of your fourth trimester can significantly impact your breastfeeding journey.
Amberley shares her top 5 tips for starting on the right foot for your breastfeeding journey. She highlights the wonderful benefits of breastmilk and ways to encourage a positive and successful breastfeeding relationship. So much of her advice works in such perfect harmony with honouring the first six weeks with home nesting. Using those early weeks to surrender, tune in and connect.
Here are our top 7 take homes from the interview to incorporate into your fourth trimester.
⊍⊍ skin on skin
Incorporating skin on skin feeding is such a brilliant way to initiate a strong breastfeeding relationship. It allows babe to use all of their senses to feed. Keeping them alert and actively feeding. Skin on skin time is so magical. It released hormones that relive stress and stabilise a babies temperature, breathing rate, heart rate and blood sugar. A mama’s body is incredible.
⊍⊍ feed on demand
Demand equals supply. Let your baby be the driver of your milk supply. Our babies are sending those signals by sucking at the breast. We have the most impact on supply in the first 6 weeks, it is the most influential on those milk making cells in our breasts. That’s the time it takes to establish our milk production.
⊍⊍ get to know your boobs
Get really well acquainted with your boobs. Feel them before during and after a feed. You will start to learn to feel when your baby hasn’t properly drained your breast. Look at them in the mirror, they will be different to what they used to be. Probably a lot bigger! Get to know them so you can identify when any red patches or lumps appear. These are the early signs of blocked milk ducts which can lead to mastitis.
⊍⊍ follow their lead
Don’t worry about structure or routine when breastfeeding during the first 6 weeks. Even better still, the first 12 weeks – the fourth trimester. Use this time to really respond to your baby and to learn their cues. Listen to a feed, identify their suck swallow pattern, observe the movement of their chin. New babies feed 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. When they frequently stimulate your boobs they bring in an abundant milk supply.
⊍⊍ mothering through breastfeeding
Mothering through breastfeeding is truely amazing. Breastfeeding is not just about nutrition. Babies breastfeed for a lot of other reasons outside of hunger. They are hot, cold, tired or overstimulated. Babies want to suckle for comfort too and that’s okay. You can’t spoil or smother them with too much love. Be there for them and create that bond and connection. Treasure these new mamahood moments.
⊍⊍ navigating nipple damage
Nipple damage is caused by an improper latch. Remember it is called breast feeding and not nipple feeding. It can be so beneficial to seek professional guidance with latching so you can identify and feel correct attachment. Reach out and connect with a lactation consultant before you have your baby. Then you have someone you know and trust if things pop up. Amberley gets all her mamas with nipple damage to continue with skin to skin and allow the baby to breast crawl for most of their feeds. This allows them to use all of their senses and instincts to latch and feed.
⊍⊍ good health
Breastfeeding works really really well and is such an intelligent system but it is also a learned skill. It takes time, practice and concentration. We can get so caught up over analysing things. To support your milk supply you just need to be in good health. Focus on your nutrition and staying hydrated. Milk boosters work really well too but they work differently for everyone. Some mama’s respond well to lactation teas, and others to lactation cookies. Some to Fenugreek and others to Blessed Thistle. If you are worried about supply, speak to a professional, there is perceived low supply and actual low supply. New mamas can get caught up in worrying through comparison with other mamas and their experiences and stories.
Your village can make such a difference to your breastfeeding journey. Having their understating and support of your fourth trimester intentions. Having our beautiful recipes delivered to you while you honour those early weeks. Asking other mamas in your village to guide you when you are a little lost.
We can teach each other so much as women – we can empower each other. There is so much to learn that we can share amongst ourselves. Breastfeeding is a learned skill and for most of us – it isn’t until we have our own baby and breastfeed for the first time that we see it up close.
Be prepared to be a little clumsy and feel as though you need an extra set of arms. Be kind to yourself, and remember, with a little practice you will get there and it will be so worth it. Breast milk is incredible and breastfeeding is magical.
love leila x