If you want to know more of the when, how and why you might want to, check out this link from an NHS trust (direct PDF download).
Here are some tried and tested tips for you..
Get the oxytocin flowing
stroke, relax, time your time and roll fingers towards the nipple. Light touch, like a stoke, not like a hard massage, is what helps the hormones trigger the milk to flow. Sometimes experimenting in the shower helps, or a warm relaxing bath.
You can collect the drops on a clean surface like a tea spoon! Then transfer in small amounts to syringes if keeping.
You can freeze these with a label showing date & your name. If later used within a hospital setting, this very helpful to all.
Take your time
It’s not a race, take your time working out what works and doesn’t for you.
What you get during these sessions, is not an indicator of your future milk supply.
A skill in your tool kit
Many a parent struggles with the technical side of this, it is a skill. Practicing this now means if you are engorged, you already have the technique down. Feel like mastitis is coming on? You already know just how and where to stoke and massage to get your milk flowing.
You got this 😉
You are the holder of the puzzle pieces.
I got all emotional last time I taught an introduction to #slings #workshop with @villagemidwife.
Talking about these puzzle pieces, made me well up with emotion, remembering one of the times I #knew I meant for this work.
As I passed around a box of puzzle prices, explained how you as the parent are gathering them all. This was my gift to them to remind them.
At the same time, in my head, I remembered meeting a parent for the second time, who told me I had changed the course of her breastfeeding journey. She said, I am here 6 months on, though all our trauma, because of this idea you gave us. I had forgotten I’d even said it, but the awe of the rippless of parent to parent support caught me in that moment.
Now I share it with you too.
Many supporters and loved ones will offer you support and advice. They offer you pieces of their puzzles, only YOU will know which pieces of puzzle you are offered, actually fit.
Some won’t. That’s ok. But please keep searching until your instincts are quiet again. They are powerful and will lead you. Keep asking new people until all feels well.
In case you need reminding, YOU GOT THIS
Another common query from parents at this time of year in the UK. It’s Christmas party season with employers and families alike.
So what’s the norm for breastfeeding families in these scenarios?
From the moment your baby was born, they began to rely on you for nourishment, comfort, safety and as researcher Neils Burgman would say, anywhere other than with you, is other to them.
We know babies grow most optimally with human milk, kept close to their parents and when permitted to feed without restriction day and night. (More on feeding intervals)
This way of parenting, isn’t the one projected in popular media & on the screens. So is no wonder that when an event calls for alcoholic drinks and late nights, parents can feel conflicted about what to do.
Things to remember
A symbotic unit
You and your baby are a symbiotic unit, you respond to each other and so in separating for more than an hour or two, you’ll need to make adjustments.
Most parents will have to pump several times to make up enough milk for one feed whilst they are away. (It’s ok to combine milk of the same temperature). More on milk storage.
Pumping whilst away
Your breasts will continue to make milk whilst you are away, you will need to express or hand express to relive discomfort. Avoiding this is likely to greatly increase your chances of mastitis. This feels like the flu & is not what you’d wish for with a hangover!
More than food
It’s a factor most of us are not used to considering, but your baby has know your voice, heart beat, smells and those in your daily environment long before they where born. You are their safe space and it’s worth considering if they are connected in the same way with the person you intend to leave them with.
Breastfeeding, as you’ll have guessed by now, is so much more than just nourishment. For both of you.
What can you do to reduce the changes? Can you help the other adult use a sling/carrier your baby is used too? Can they look after the baby at your home?
Even if your baby takes milk perfectly, sleeps and doesn’t utter a cry (unlikely!), you are likely to run though a range of emotions whilst you two are apart. This is part hormonal due to breastfeeding but also a sign of the wonderful bond you have together.
Maybe you made a different choice in the past, it’s OK to make a different one with different information or feelings.
What do other parents say?
trust your gut, say no if you want to!parent – Instagram
Bring baby with partner or parents and you can nip off for feeds.parent – Instagram
The days with baby are short. Stay with baby, there will be many more parties!parent – Instagram
Baby won’t take a bottle? Try an open cup or sippy cup with an older baby.
Go for just the party and travel home.
or ask the care giver to stay near by for regular breastfeeding breaks.
Take the baby along with you! If you are bold, pop the baby in a sling on your front and enjoy the cooing coworkers. Igorne the nay sayers who seem annoyed.
Lastly, you could just skip the event altogether. There will be plenty more in your lifetime, but the baby days are fleeting.
Here in the UK, there is a pervasive thought that breastfeeding will happen naturally and if it doesn’t, the help being offered must be the best.
Parents often then conclude that if that hasn’t worked, nothing will.
Here is where many parents trip up with their new kids, and the health care system fails them.
The sooner you seek help, the less work it’ll be to get back on track, to meeting your feeding goals.
Have you ever forgotten a major ingredient in some food you making? Depending on what is is, and how you act, can make or break it.
For many, the same is true of meeting their feeding goals.
I’d love it if every new parent was cared for by passionate and skilled feeding professionals but the reality is often quite different.
The levels of training and enthusiasm between health care professionals vary greatly, and even those parents wise enough to link up with skilled support before the baby arrives, often forget to utilize it until things have got really quite messy.
So if we go back to that food you where preparing, if you forget something like the salt, you can add it at the end, no worries! But if you miss out a binding ingredient like egg, You can just add it in at the end and still expect to get the original desired food.
Now how you act with breastfeeding problems, and cooking ones, are the same. If you find someone who knows about it, they often not only know how to fix it, they will usually have a few options for you.
Wait until the end, muddle through on your own of ask a less skilled person, and you might get told to start again.
100’s of breastfeeding solutions
There is a saying within the breastfeeding support world, that there are 101 breastfeeding solutions to any feeding problem. Is this the impression you have? or did you think the next step with a feeding issue, is to give breast milk substitutes?
You can see some of my favorites resources here..
Find out who the local skilled supporters in your area?
Try, ‘breastfeeding support’ & ‘your town’
Find out who the infant feeding lead is, within the local hospital & health visiting teams, do they have breastfeeding specialists?
Ask other parents if there are peer supporters & breastfeeding counselors within your town?
Is there an IBCLC near you?
How often have you thought, this problem is unique to just me, my family or my kid?
You might find out that issue or situation actually it’s quite common but many parents get stuck without knowing how to gain realistic expectations and norms.
As I type up another follow up email about just this, I wonder what fuels this feeling in the people?
Is it the disconnect with nature, instincts and western ideals? Disconnect with normal infant behaviour.
Is it that we no longer live in large communities where not only is breastfeeding is the norm, but parenting is seen and experienced by muti generations, in all its realistic glory.
So many parents fall into the traps of other people’s, rather idealsic experiences and it’s do unhelpful to parents.
What if we re constructed the parenting villages? What if we knew from first hand experience, before we have our own small people, the realities of parenting.
Maybe then we might live happier lives, with happier healthier kids..