“I would never have thought something so simple would be so complicated.”
That quote comes from actress Troian Bellisario, speaking on her experience with breastfeeding her daughter - and we couldn’t agree more!
Breastfeeding is recommended as the best way to feed newborns and infants, with most sources recommending feeding for at least 6 months and up to 2 years, but it’s also a source of anxiety and stress for many new parents.
We’re here to break down some Breastfeeding 101, outlining key points you may find helpful when considering your breastfeeding journey, and to share some of the lessons we’ve learnt along the way…
Getting straight into it, breast milk contains important antibodies which help protect your little one against infection and even set their immune systems up to help against the risk of certain health problems later in life. For a deeper dive into the science of it all, take a look at this article from our scientific advisor. Further to this, some studies have shown that breastfeeding can actually reduce a mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Pretty neat, hey?
Supply (and Demand!)
Feeding regularly can help establish and maintain a good milk supply, to help both you and your baby find a routine that works. Some parents find it helps to pump in addition to feeding, to maintain supply while also building up a freezer stash of breastmilk which can then be used by other caregivers feeding the baby to maintain their exposure to positive antibodies while meaning mum isn’t having to do it all. Head here for the ultimate guide to choosing a good breast pump based on your needs.
A fun fact about your freezer stash: breast milk stored in the freezer at -18c or lower can keep for six months, and we always recommend labelling with the date so you can easily see when it needs to be used by!
And remember, you need to look after your hydration levels during feeding or pumping sessions, so make sure you have access to plenty of water within reach - or someone who will happily keep you topped up!
Let’s start by sharing that 92% of new moms have trouble breastfeeding in the three days after birth and half experience latching problems, so this is an immediate reminder that this is normal and you are not doing anything wrong. If you’re struggling with mastering the latch, try gently massaging your breasts in downward strokes while feeding, and ensure you’re getting plenty of skin-to-skin to boost your bonding time. If you’re having continued trouble establishing latching, you might find this article helpful, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare visitor, lactation consultant or breastfeeding support group for advice.
We tend to gravitate towards a traditional hold while breastfeeding, but there’s actually a whole range of techniques, including the cradle hold and side-lying position. An effective latch can be impacted by your positioning, so try a few and see what works best for you and your baby - this reel from The Labor Mama gives some great demonstrations of different positions in practice.
As natural as it is, breastfeeding can be a challenge! This ranges from sore nipples and issues with latching to mastitis or blocked ducts. Feeding also comes with its own level of anxiety as you may wonder if your little one is getting enough to eat and if your supply is enough for them. What we want to say here is our rallying cry of - you are not alone.
These challenges are commonly experienced in breastfeeding so reach out to your support network of other parents and healthcare practitioners for advice and support, and remember that you know what’s best for you and your baby.
Which brings us onto…
Our Final Word
At Onoco, we believe fed is best, and have designed the app to support you on whatever feeding journey you and your baby are taking. Our trackers include a breastfeeding timer and quick reference symbol so you can see which side you fed on last; pumping timer and amount tracker; and bottle feeding timer and amount tracker.
After tracking, you can access your unique insights and even lifetime statistics, showing you how many hours overall you have spent feeding and / or pumping!
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience and way to bond with your baby, and we hope that every parent looking to do so can find the support they need to empower them on their journey.
If you have concerns about your feeding journey, we recommend reaching out to your healthcare visitor or doctor for personalised advice. By using your Onoco insights in these conversations you can ensure you’re making informed decisions, together.