Medela concentrates on two divisions: "Breastfeeding", leading in the development and production of breastfeeding products, and "Healthcare", engineering and manufacturing highly innovative medical vacuum technology solutions.
So, what is tandem breastfeeding? Tandem breastfeeding is breastfeeding two or more children of different ages at the same time.
Some mothers will feed both babies together at the breast or may take turns to feed one baby at a time throughout the day. Mothers with twins or triplets may also tandem feed by choosing to feed both babies at the same time.
Are There Any Benefits to Tandem Breastfeeding?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. After that, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years and beyond.
What we may not know in our western culture is that if a baby/child is not actively weaned from breastfeeding the natural age that weaning occurs is anywhere from 2 to 6 years of age.
But what happens is another pregnancy occurs before your firstborn is ready to wean? The answer is tandem feeding!
Breast milk continues to provide nutrition, assists with the immune system, provides gut microbiota, comfort and social and intellectual development for as long as the breastfeeding relationship continues and tandem feeding supports both the relationship with the new baby and continues the breastfeeding relationship with the older sibling. In short tandem feeding allows a Dyad (mother and baby) to continue to feed despite a new baby coming along.
Many tandem mothers say that breastfeeding their toddler and newborn helped with the transition of the addition of a new sibling. When a new baby is born the toddler will have to make many new adjustments and the continuation of breastfeeding can help to reassure the toddler that mum is still there and that they share the same bond as they did before.
Other tandem feeders report that it helped the siblings develop a strong bond and would hold hands and comfort each other while they fed. Breastfeeding the two of them can be a real joy in terms of the interaction between the three of you.
Give yourself a few weeks to settle into a new tandem breastfeeding pattern. Your new baby will need time to learn to breastfeed, your older child will need time to adjust to the new baby and you’ll be experimenting with the most comfortable positions for all of you.
Can Mothers Continue to Breastfeed Through Pregnancy?
Yes, it is possible to continue to breastfeed throughout pregnancy; however, there are some important things to consider.
Often with a new pregnancy, a mother can experience increased nipple pain (this can often be the first sign that alerts them to the new pregnancy) and some mothers have so much nipple pain that they need to stop feeding. Some toddlers will pick up where they left off once the nipple pain has reduced, but to others, this could mean the end of the breastfeeding relationship.
About half of mother’s report that their milk supply drops with a subsequent pregnancy. This is due to hormonal changes and there is little that can be done to prevent this.
If the first baby is less than one year old, another source of nutrition may be required until after the subsequent birth. As early as 16weeks of pregnancy the milk can begin to change back to colostrum and along with this comes a change in the flavour of the milk.
Colostrum, while jam-packed full of nutrition for any baby, has a salty flavour and may toddlers may refuse to drink it. Colostrum also acts as a laxative and helps your newborn baby to have its first meconium poo. Because it has this laxative effect the toddler may also experience a change in their stooling pattern, so watch out for toddler poonamis!
Will My Newborn Get Enough Breast Milk?
Except for the first few days after birth (the only time you’re producing colostrum), it is not necessary for your newborn to breastfeed first to get “first dibs” on the milk. Both research and anecdotal evidence assures us that your body will make enough breast milk for both children because as demand increases, so does supply.
Because more milk is removed, tandem nursing increases your milk production more quickly. Feeding your toddler can also help to bring in your milk sooner, can help with engorgement and help to unblock any potential milk blockages.
Breast milk composition will adjust to what the new baby needs and your older child will receive all those same benefits. Remember, however, that if you are tandem feeding a newborn and a toddler, that baby will always take priority – after all, it’s their only source of food!
Allowing the new baby to feed first during the colostral phase until your milk comes in will ensure that your newborn receives all the colostrum that it needs.
Did you know that, if a mother is feeding one baby from one breast and the other baby from the other breast, because breasts work independently from each other, the milk that both babies receive will be perfectly tailored to their needs – how clever is that! Check out this picture showing how one mother can make two very different kinds of milk.
Keeping an eye on nappy output and weight gain is a reassuring way to know that any newborn baby is getting enough breast milk. Check out this blog to learn more about what is normal nappy output and weight gain for a newborn baby.
Feeling Touched Out!
For some mothers, tandem nursing can be difficult. The demands of looking after a toddler and a newborn are huge.
Tandem feeding is not for everyone and that’s ok! Some mothers say that the feeling of being touched out is too much and other mothers can experience stronger reactions such as nursing aversion. It’s a good idea to look at the reasons why you want to continue breastfeeding, and whether that feels right for you.
If at any stage it feels wrong or that it is not enjoyable, you could try feeding your toddler less, or having a few days where you take a break from breastfeeding your toddler and seeing how you feel then.
Most importantly, talk to someone about it and know that that’s ok. We all feel differently!
Are There Any Risks to Breastfeeding While Pregnant?
You can never be too cautious, especially when it comes to your babies. Generally, breastfeeding while pregnant is safe. Though trace amounts of pregnancy hormones can be present in your milk, these are not harmful to your breast milk feeding child.
Additionally, oxytocin is released in small amounts during a nursing session, so it is not enough to induce preterm labour. The contractions caused by this hormone are minor and rarely increase the chance of having a miscarriage.
However, there are certain circumstances when your doctor may advise weaning your child, such as:
If your pregnancy is deemed high risk or you are at risk for miscarriage
If you are carrying twins or multiples
If you have been experiencing uterine pain or bleeding
If you have been advised to avoid sex while pregnant
Consider Your Diet
By now, you know all about how eating well is important for the health of your baby – both during your developing pregnancy and after birth, while breast milk feeding. However, consuming additional calories is also crucial for you, mama! Pregnancy and breastfeeding both require a lot of energy, so it’s important to ensure you’re taking in enough calories to maintain your overall wellness. A general rule of thumb is:
Five hundred extra calories needed if your breast milk feeding child is also eating other foods or six hundred and fifty extra calories needed if he or she is under six months old.
This is in addition to the three hundred and fifty extra calories needed if you are in the second trimester of your pregnancy or the four hundred and fifty extra calories needed if you are in the third trimester of your pregnancy.
Most healthcare providers agree that no additional calories are required if you are in the first trimester of your pregnancy, which is often considered a positive for mums who are experiencing morning sickness or nausea.
One of Medela’s International Board Lactation Consultant, Kristy, chats to tandem breastfeeding mama, Maddie. Read more about her experiences and tips here.
Have you ever breastfed two children of different ages at the same time? How would you describe your experience with tandem breastfeeding? Let’s have a chat and support each other.
In this interview, one of Medela’s International Board Lactation Consultants, Kristy, chats to tandem breastfeeding mama, Maddie. She shares her amazing breastfeeding journey and the benefits to herself, baby and toddler while also addressing some challenges.
Could you tell us a little about what led you to tandem feed your two children?
My breastfeeding journey with my first child was one that was very difficult to establish. At one week postpartum, I had such extensive nipple damage that I had lost half a nipple on both sides; I quite literally had a hole where my nipple was meant to be.
I enlisted the help of an IBCLC because I was very motivated to breastfeed and with some changes to positioning of me and baby, a truck load of lanolin cream, as well as, some reassurance that using a contact nipple shield was absolutely ok, I was on my way. I used the contact nipple shield until Harvey was 4 months old and after that, it was pretty smooth sailing.
When Harvey was 9 months old, I got pregnant with my second baby and that’s when I knew it was likely I would be tandem feeding a toddler and baby. My goal was to feed Harvey until 18 months, which was the exact gap my babies were going to have, I knew there was no way I could wean a toddler as he got a brand new baby sibling so I decided to continue to follow his lead and as long as he wanted to feed, I was going to continue.
Were there any challenges that you faced?
The early stages of my second pregnancy definitely presented challenges. Breastfeeding a baby that fed around the clock, and was often permanently latched overnight whilst dealing with the vomiting and unrelenting nausea that came with early pregnancy made for an exhausting couple of months.
I noticed a pretty big drop in my supply around 16 weeks. I still remember the day so clearly; Harvey was crying and hitting my boob and I was bawling my eyes out with him, feeling so guilty that my milk had dried so significantly. I remember wondering where this left us and if he would want to continue feeding.
Thankfully, after that, Harvey was happy to continue nursing despite my supply being low. When I was about twenty weeks pregnant (Harvey was 14 months), I decided it was time to night wean him. It was earlier than I had originally planned, but once my supply had dropped and Harvey was still dry nursing all night on nipples that felt like they were on fire. I knew it was time to set some limits.
Night weaning went pretty smoothly and we started getting some bigger blocks of sleep which definitely helped.
I started to look forward to what breastfeeding two children was going to look like and what changes I was going to have to make for it to be feasible.
When Harvey was 16 months, I gently weaned him off feeding to sleep. Instead, he would have a breastfeed and then we would cuddle to sleep instead.
I then decided that setting some limits during the day was probably a good idea. I went from demand feeding during the day to feeds before and after nap as well as before bed and when he woke in the morning. He adapted to these changes pre-baby really well.
Once baby was born, Harvey was pretty keen to have feeds whenever baby Olive was having breastfeeds. So, I decided to go with the flow and he basically went back to demand feeding during daylight hours.
It wasn’t as exhausting as I initially thought it was going to be and I think it helped that Olive was an absolute dream feeder. I didn’t have so much as a sore nipple with her feeding, so that definitely made it easier to continue tandem feeding both on demand.
One challenge that did eventuate was when Olive was eight weeks old. All of a sudden, she decided she would only latch when we were nursing lying down. We saw a Paediatric Osteopath with no real improvement. This did make it slightly difficult when I was feeding them both at once, as trying to get them both in a position whilst I was lying down where Harvey wasn’t squashing Olive was definitely a challenge. But, once again, we overcame it with time.
I am currently still feeding both Harvey (2 years and 4 months) and Olive (10 months) and it’s mostly seamless now. Harvey is down to one feed a day whilst Olive feeds on demand and I am so glad that we got through the early challenges and have been able to make it work.
What benefits were there to tandem feeding?
The benefits of tandem feeding are many. The fact that I was able to continue the connection and comfort with my toddler while he adjusted to the monumental change of a brand new sibling was probably the main thing.
I suppose really it’s just a continuation of what I see as the benefits of breastfeeding; it’s a quick and easy way to calm a fussy baby as well as a grumpy toddler, easing the pain of sore gums, a great sleep cue, amazing nutritional benefits for both toddler and baby, as well as definitely shortening the lengths of illnesses like coughs and colds that are inevitably picked up.
And, undeniably it provides beautiful bonding time for me with both of my babies.
How did your friends and family react to your decision to tandem feed?
I think it was around the time Harvey turned one that the questions started surfacing about when I would wean him. I would politely say “Oh, well, the WHO recommends breastfeeding to two years and beyond, so, we’ll just continue until it feels right to stop.”
I think people thought I was crazy to continue feeding while I was pregnant, let alone breastfeed a toddler AND a baby. My family were very supportive; my Grandmother breastfed 7 children into toddlerhood, as did my Mother with her 6 children.
The questions and curiosity came more from friends that weren’t mothers and didn’t understand it was possible to continue breastfeeding while pregnant… or to breastfeed two children at once.
There is a lot of misinformation around breastfeeding. Some people even questioned how I had fallen pregnant if I was still breastfeeding Harvey.
The whole situation really provided me an opportunity to educate my friends, my partner’s friends and our families all about the amazing benefits of breastfeeding.
Winter is coming! And, along with winter comes dreaded coughs, colds and winter bugs. It can be a tricky time navigating breastfeeding through your baby’s first cold, but, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Read on to uncover helpful tips on how to ease your baby’s illness and maintain your supply.
When your little one experiences their first cold, it can be tough on you both! It can be difficult and frustrating for them to let you know that they aren’t feeling well and, for you, it can be stressful to try and figure it out!
How it All Starts
Changes in behaviour are often the first sign that your baby may not be feeling well, such as crying more frequently than usual, crankiness, wanting to feed more often, wanting to feed less often and being more difficult to console. If you are worried that your baby is becoming unwell, it is important to have them checked by your General Practitioner to make sure that it is nothing serious.
Sometimes a sick baby will start to refuse the breast because their throat is sore or because the congestion associated with a cold can make it hard for your baby to breathe clearly through their nose. Despite this temporary challenge, your breast milk is especially important for your little one during this time.
Your Breastmilk is Powerful!
When your baby is sick, your body springs into action and tailors the composition of your breast milk to provide the vitamins, antibodies, and other essential nutrients that your baby needs most to fight through their illness. Amazingly, the composition of your breastmilk changes when your baby is ill. How clever is that!
If you’re exposed to a bacterial or viral infection, your body makes antibodies to combat it; these are then transferred to your baby through your milk. The levels of immunity-boosting cells, called leukocytes, in your milk also rise rapidly whenever your baby is unwell.
Due to the inflammation of a sore little throat, associated with a cold, your baby may start to refuse to breastfeed or may want to breastfeed for shorter periods. If this happens, offer your baby the breast often and let them guide you on how long they feed for. You may need to feed them very frequently until the inflammation reduces and your baby can sustain a more usual feed.
Due to nasal congestion, your baby may need to stop and take a few breaths before returning to sucking at your breast. Go with their pace and allow them to break regularly. Keep an eye on their nappy output to make sure they are not showing any signs of dehydration.
Cuddles Are Magical
Often, babies will want to feed constantly while they have a cold. Their bodies know that they need the valuable milk that you are producing for an antibody hit to help them recover. Your breastmilk can help to soothe a sore and irritated throat, and frequent cuddles and contact can help with aches and pains.
Hold and cuddle your baby as often as you need to help them through this tough time. You may even like to have some skin-to-skin time to help your baby. When holding your baby like this, you and your baby are releasing the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, and this will help you and your baby to feel better. There is nothing that can’t be fixed with a boob and a cuddle!
When breastfeeding, keep your little one as upright as possible. Congestion is often relieved when upright and it may help to reduce all those nasty secretions.
Try using saline drops and a rubber suction bulb to remove congestion from your baby’s nose before breastfeeding. You will likely have to do this several times through the day and night to continuously clear out backed-up mucus to create a comfortable feeding experience for your little one.
What if My Baby Doesn’t Want to Drink?
When a sick baby is reluctant to breastfeed, you can try giving them your breast milk with a syringe, dropper, or cup, to encourage them to drink and to keep up their oral intake.
You may also consider freezing some of your expressed breast milk until it is slushy and then feeding it to your little one with a spoon or cup – the cold, slushy mixture may provide some relief for a sore throat while providing the important antibodies and nutrients he or she needs from your breast milk. However, if your baby’s cold worsens or becomes severe, be sure to visit a healthcare provider right away for professional care.
How Can I Maintain My Supply if My Baby is Feeding Less?
If your little one is breastfeeding less – or not at all – while they are under the weather, it’s important to maintain your supply until your baby can breastfeed. To do this, you will need to express your breast regularly until your baby is feeding well again.
Breast milk is maintained on a supply and demand basis, and regular expression tells your body to continue production. If your baby is not feeding well, you will need to express as many times during the day and night that your baby would usually feed.
By regularly expressing milk from your breasts, you are telling your body that you still need to make this milk; otherwise, your body will think that it is no longer needed and your supply will start to reduce. This is particularly important if there are any changes to how your baby breastfeeds while sick, such as breastfeeding for shorter periods or less frequently through the day and night.
Consistent, expression during this time can help you continue providing breast milk – and its antibodies, vitamins, and other nutrients tailored specifically to your baby’s needs – for as long as you choose.
Maintaining good hand hygiene is important to minimise the risk of spreading the illness. Wash your hands with soap before and after feeding your baby, preparing and eating food, going to the toilet or changing nappies. Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue, or the crook of your elbow (not your hands) if you don’t have one with you and always wash or sanitise your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
Have you or your baby been sick with a cold recently? Let us know what things helped you and your little one get through the chillier months! Let’s have a chat and support each other!
When welcoming a new baby into the world the partner of a breastfeeding mother can sometimes feel redundant. They may feel that because they can’t help with feeding the baby, there is nothing that they can do to help.
But, in reality, there are plenty of practical ways that a partner can make themselves useful and help encourage the mother to continue to breastfeed. Let’s touch on a few!
Learn All About How Breastfeeding Works, Together!
Studies show that women with partners who are supportive of breastfeeding and have an understanding of how it works and why it is important are more likely to decide to breastfeed, to breastfeed for longer and continue to breastfeed if the going gets tough.
Breastfeeding is natural, but, it doesn’t always come easily. Many new mothers need help establishing milk flow and many infants need help learning to latch on.
So, take a breastfeeding class together and be each others’ research partner. By developing an understanding of what problems may occur throughout the breastfeeding journey, a partner will be able to offer words of encouragement, be a shoulder to cry on and may even be able to come up with some practical ideas that can make learning to breastfeed easier.
Never underestimate how learning and understanding together can help; it goes a long way to promoting successful breastfeeding!
Be a Guest!
Breastfeeding makes you very hungry and very thirsty. You will need your partners’ help to make sure that you remain well fed and well hydrated.
Keep in mind that breastfeeding mums need to eat more after giving birth; the general recommendation is to eat 500 calories more per day than they did before becoming pregnant.
Have your partner prepare something healthy that can be eaten with one hand… and keep it within easy reach. It’s amazing how many times the baby has just latched on perfectly, but, the TV remote is just out of arms reach!
Be patient with each other; breastfeeding is hard and time-consuming and knowing that your partner has got you covered with simples things like, snacks and water, will ease the load.
Get Some Rest
When your baby is not feeding, try to use the time to rest. This will not only give your partner some important bonding time with your newborn, but, it will also help you to relax and re-boot.
Sometimes a break or even just time to have a shower makes your day that much easier. When you or your partner are holding your baby, you may like to use a baby sling or carrier so that you have your hands free to do other things.
Or, you may like to have some skin-to-skin time. Skin-to-skin is not just important for the new mother and baby; it is also a powerful way for your partner to have some special bonding time with your baby. Everyone benefits from skin-to-skin time!
Let Your Partner Do the Cleaning
You are probably feeling sleep deprived and exhausted, so, your partner can help to create a harmonious nest for baby and mum to bond in by tackling some laundry or wrangling some messes – wouldn’t that be nice!
Share the Night Time Nappy Changing
If your baby has a wet or dirty nappy, this is when your partner can step in to lend a helping hand! Helping out with nappy changes may seem like a small thing to do, but, it will help ease the load, especially during the night.
Once your partner has finished changing the nappy, have them bring bubs to you so that you don’t have to get out of bed. It’s the middle of the night and you’re probably feeling exhausted and will appreciate not having to wrestle your baby to your boob.
Share the Load
Breastfeeding is a full-time job and, if you’re also having to express, you will need to be cleaning the breast pump. Have your partner help by washing and drying the pump pieces and reassembling it so that it is ready for the next pumping session. Once you have expressed, have your partner help by labeling and storing the expressed milk.
How does your partner help you to have a successful breastfeeding journey? Let’s have a chat and support each other.
At Medela, we receive a lot of questions about breastfeeding. After all, every mum wants to know that she is doing everything possible to give her baby a great start… and breastfeeding is top of mind for many of us.
So, we thought that it would be useful to collect and answer some of the questions that we hear most from mums. We hope that you find these answers helpful as you embark on your breastfeeding journey with your little one!
First, Let’s Start with the Basics
Every mum produces milk of varying amounts and produces it at different times throughout the day. So, there is no set amount you should be expressing.
The average baby drinks about 800ml per day from one to six months in age. Some babies will drink all this over 4-6 feeds per day, whilst other babies need 9-12 feeds per day to drink the same amount.
Our breasts hold different amounts in our cells where the milk is made and stored, so one mum may express out 90ml per pump whilst her friend may express 60ml.
The key thing to remember here is that we are all different. You will work out how frequently you need to express to get what your baby needs. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else as we are all individuals in everything we do.
How Will I Know if My Baby is Getting Enough Milk?
A rough guide is to think about how many times your baby breastfeeds per day and divide this by 800 -1000ml. For example, if your baby feeds about 10 times per day (10 ÷ 800/1000 = 80-100ml per feed).
Of course, when it comes to breastfeeding, remember that the fat content of breast milk changes based on whether it is the beginning or end of the feed. It also changes throughout the day.
So, you may find your baby needs more milk at some feeds and less at others. This is normal. This is what they have been doing whilst feeding at your breast anyway. You just haven’t been able to see it!
What Are the Benefits of Double Pumping?
Double pumping (expressing from both breasts at the same time) is beneficial as it provides you with up to 18% more milk… and, by draining both breasts, it also saves you time!
Double pumping’s effectiveness is also important because a well-drained breast tells your system to produce more milk, whereas milk that’s left behind after ineffective pumping signals that more milk is not required. That’s why frequent and effective milk removal is so crucial for your milk supply.
How Do I Know What Size My Nipples Are?
This is the most COMMON question we get and it’s important that you know how to measure your nipples! When you are using a breast pump, the breast shield (funnel) is designed to draw your nipple into the tunnel and allow your milk to flow into the breast milk bottle. It can be painful if your nipple is touching or grazing the inside of the tunnel during this process, as it creates friction.
As such, we have a wide variety of sizes when it comes to breast shields, as women’s nipples come in all shapes and sizes, just like our shoe sizes! Medela has breast shields in 5 sizes; S, M, L, XL, XXL, to find your correct size and for a guide on how to measure your nipples, read here.
How Do I Clean My Breast Pump?
As your pump parts come into contact with your breast milk, it’s important that you clean and sterilise these parts after each use. This includes all parts apart from the pump itself and the tubing (only air should be travelling in the tube).
To clean a harmony or swing pump, remove the breast shield, unscrew the connector from the bottle, separate the valve from the membrane and remove both from the connector. Clean with warm, soapy water and sterilise how you wish.
Medela has microwaveable sterilising bags that are easy to use and remove 99.9% of bacteria in under 3 minutes!
If you have the swing maxi or freestyle pump, remove the breast shield, unscrew the connector from the bottle, remove the back of the connector, and separate the membrane from the back of the connector. Wash all of the pieces in warm, soapy water and sterilise.
How Often Will I Need to Pump?
How often you wish to express depends on how many breastfeeds per day you wish to replace with feeding your baby expressed breast milk.
A rough guide is to think about how many times your baby breastfeeds per day and divide this by 800 -1000ml. For example, if your baby feeds about 10 times per day (10 ÷ 800/1000 = 80-100ml per feed).
How Long Does Breast Milk “Stay Good” in the Fridge or Freezer?
Breast milk can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 hours, up to 3 days in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer. Previously frozen and thawed breast milk can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours and at room temperature for 2 hours.
What Can I Use to Store My Breast Milk in?
There are lots of different ways you can store your breast milk; it just depends on your situation. If you’re low on space, Medela’s breast milk storage bags are great for freezing or refrigerating as they can lie flat or stand up. We also have a double seal to prevent any spillage and have a space for labelling (handy for when you can’t remember when you pumped your breast milk).
You can also store breast milk in the fridge or freezer in containers of 80ml, 150ml, or 250 ml. If you are out and about for work, travel or a spot of shopping, Medela’s Cooler Bag with ice brick is also supper handy, and it comes with four breast milk bottles too!
What questions do you have about breastfeeding? We’d love to answer them! Let’s have a chat and support each other!
Hi everyone, I’m Lucy. I’m mum to my baby girl Kora who is 16 months plus another baby due in June!
This pregnancy has absolutely flown by. I can’t believe in just a couple of short months I’ll be running around after two!
With my past breastfeeding experience, I really struggled with building and maintaining my milk supply and therefore lasted 4 months. With baby number two, I hope to get past the 4-month marker and breastfeed as long as possible without setting unrealistic expectations for myself.
It’s Time to Get Organized!
This time around I’m feeling more organised when I think about our breastfeeding journey.
With Kora, my first, I was very unprepared for things like boosting my milk supply and doing what I can to prolong the journey. This time I’m totally ready with my lactation biscuits (I personally think that they help with my supply) AND my Freestyle double electric pump. This will be a total time saver used alongside the Medela bustier.
My first time around I only had a single pump, so I can’t wait to be able to get pumping done in half the time!
I Wish That I Knew About Double Pumping The First Time Around!
Previously, I had a single breast pump and felt like I was either feeding or pumping all the time. Because I was doing only one breast at a time, it could take me over an hour on the one breast to even pump half a bottle and then I still had to do the other!
I know that, for the first few months, feeding is quite often around the clock but I really believe having a quality double breast is going to be super handy in lifting some of the load and saving precious time.
Everyone is Different. Every Breastfeeding Journey is Too!
I know how tricky breastfeeding can be for each person and how different each journey can be so I don’t want to set a potentially unrealistic goal for us this time around.
With my increased knowledge about breastfeeding and the right support, I feel like I have the best chance to get past my previous milestone of 4 months. Then onto 6 months, then 8 months, then who knows!
I’m going to do all I can to assist my supply. I just need to listen to my body and baby.
How would you describe your breastfeeding journey? What do you wish someone would have told you before you got started? Let’s have a chat and support each other.
Medela has partnered with Roz Kelly, Australian sports presenter and second time Mama, for advice on returning to work whilst breastfeeding and what she has learned from the challenges she faced in the early days of breastfeeding.
Medela: Having a baby is an exciting and sometimes overwhelming time. What breastfeeding advice would you give to new mothers that you wish you had of known before you started breastfeeding?
Roz: Your emotions can have a great impact on your ability to produce milk. If you are stressed, rushed or overwhelmed, take a few moments to just breathe and slow down before feeding or pumping. Calm mama, calm baby.
Medela: Could you tell us about any challenges that you experienced in the early days of breastfeeding and how you overcame them?
Roz: Mastitis was one of the worst experiences of my breastfeeding journey with my first born. It was painful, confusing and really emotional. I knew nothing about it until it hit me hard a week post-partum.
I tried every trick in the book to get me through it… cabbage leaves on my boobs, hot showers, cold packs, strange feeding positions… but I’m glad I didn’t give up on breastfeeding because I continued to feed my son for just over a year which was really special.
Medela: How did using a breast pump assist you in the early days and beyond?
Roz: The hum of the breast pump is the soundtrack of my life at the moment!
My Medela Freestyle has been a game changer because it enables me to pump on the go which is essential when you are a working mother and also have a busy three-year-old boy who won’t let you sit down!
Medela: How has the breast pump helped with your transition back to work?
Roz: My feeding journeys with my boys have been polar opposites. With my first, Ari, I took a solid year out so completely weaned by the time I went back to work on a freelance basis – which was good because he was NEVER interested in taking a bottle.
However, with my second son, Leo, I returned to work part-time when he was four months so a breast pump has become my main accessory! It’s enabled me to build up a solid stockpile of milk which gives me a lot of peace of mind knowing he will never go hungry if I get held up at work or called away with little notice.
Medela: What are your top tips for other mums who would like to continue breastfeeding when they return to work?
Roz: Be open and honest about your breastfeeding journey with your colleagues so you aren’t put in any situation where you may feel too uncomfortable to pump or can’t pump.
How would you describe your own breastfeeding journey? What advice do you wish someone had given you before you got started? Let’s have a chat and support each other.
You may have heard of mastitis. Or, you may know someone who has experienced it before, considering that 20% of Australian women are affected by it.
By definition, Mastitis is the inflammation of the breast that may be accompanied by infection. It is usually caused by a blocked milk duct, but it can also be caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus Aureus (Staph).
It can pop up at any time, but occurs mostly during the first 6 months post-partum, due to a range of factors including the baby not attaching well, damage to the nipple, blocked milk ducts, full breasts, stopping breastfeeding suddenly, tight clothing, and tongue ties.
It is important to seek medical attention early, so that you can avoid infection, as well as continuing with breastfeeding frequently (8-12 sessions per 24 hours) to drain the infection from the breasts. But, the amazing thing about your breast milk – among many other things – is that even with mastitis, it is still safe for your baby to drink!
What Does Mastitis Look Like?
While there are some mothers who experience early symptoms, such as feeling like they have a cold or flu, experiencing shivers, aches, nausea, or vomiting, other mums have no symptoms, and it can come without any signs. The breast can appear red in colour and can feel hot and painful and can have a shiny, streaky appearance (ouch). You may also notice a painful lump in your breasts that does not drain after feeding.
Your breasts will also most likely be looking and feeling very full which is why it is important to continue to breastfeeding or expressing from both breasts, particularly the affected breast, until it is drained well. Be sure to drain the other, unaffected, breast also, to avoid the same issue on the other side.
How is Mastitis Treated?
Like with all illnesses, it is important to relax and get enough rest – self-care is important and even though you’re busy with your new little one, it’s important to make time for yourself!
As mentioned earlier, it is important to continue with breastfeeding frequently however, if the affected breast is too painful to feed from, express either by hand or by using a pump to reduce fullness and keep the milk flowing.
You should also drink plenty of water, apply a warm compress before expressing or breastfeeding and ice packs after.
Check that you are using the most effective breastfeeding position for you and bub, it requires a surprising amount of co-ordination and patience! (Read here for tried and tested breastfeeding positions).
Use gentle massage while the breast is warm, concentrating on any lumps or sore areas. Use your finger tips or the palm of your hand to gently massage down toward your nipple. This can be done in the shower using the water to assist as a lubricant.
If you need to take pain-relief, anti-inflammatory’s such as ibuprofen and paracetamol are safe to take whilst breastfeeding.
Understanding Mastitis Prevention
If you have cracked or sore nipples, it is important to treat this in the early days to avoid blocked milk ducts or mastitis, as cracks can allow bacteria to enter the breast tissue. Most often, reasons for cracked or sore nipples include an ill-fitting breast shield or your baby biting during feeds.
Refer to our guide on how to measure your nipples to ensure that this isn’t the culprit. What can also be useful in managing sore nipples is contact nipples shields. These little “nipple hats” are great for if you have a baby who bites or if your nipples are sore, whilst maintaining close contact between you and your bub while breastfeeding.
It is also equally as important to “check-in” with your breasts, as mastitis can be caused by an untreated blocked milk duct or white bleb (white spot on the nipple). “Checking in” with your breasts is simple and you probably do it already, without noticing.
Look at your breasts and nipples closely in front of the mirror. Healthy Breasts are their usual size, shape, and colour and are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling and should remain so when you lift your arms.
While you’re at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood or a white spot on the nipple). A white spot on the nipple (known as white bleb), is when a tiny bit of skin overgrows the opening of the nipple and forms a blockage in the duct, or the formation of a string of hardened or fattier milk within the duct.
It’s important to get on top of blocked milk ducts or white bleb early, as they are both treatable, check out our blog for how to treat white bleb.
If you notice that your breasts may be looking or feeling a little different, contact your health care provider for more information.
Has anyone that you know experienced mastitis? What did they tell you about the experience and how they recovered from it? Let’s have a chat and support each other!
Many mothers birth their babies by cesarean section and, while this can make breastfeeding more challenging, it is absolutely possible to successfully breastfeed after a cesarean section.
Here is what you need to know to get you off to a flying start.
Start Breastfeeding Early After a Cesarean Section
Any mother who has a stressful birth, such as a cesarean section, may experience their milk coming in a little later than what is considered a range of normal. For most, milk transitions from colostrum (early milk) to milk coming in by 72 hours of birth.
After your baby and your placenta are birthed, your milk-making hormones go into overdrive and cause the cells that make your milk to switch on into production.
Research tells us that early and frequent sucking helps to switch on these milk-making cells, and mums who are able to feed or pump in the first hour have been shown to start lactation earlier, breastfeed for longer and have greater milk production compared to mums who start feeding or pumping later. By putting your baby to the breast as soon as they are born, you will maximise the switching on of your milk making cells.
Even if you have had an epidural or spinal anaesthesia, you may be able to breastfeed as soon as your baby is born. If you have a general anaesthesia (GA), you may be separated from your baby for a brief period while you wake up from the anaesthetic. Many hospitals now have breast pumps in theatre and recovery and the nurses and midwives will be able to assist you in expressing within the first 1-3 hours after birth.
If you are anaesthetised for a long period or take longer to recover, a nurse or midwife may be able to express you while you are unable to do so. Once you are reunited with your baby, feed your baby often.
Many hospitals realise the life long benefits of keeping mother and baby together and employ extra nurses or midwives so that if you do have a cesarean section, your baby can safely remain with you. It is the nurse or midwives role to ensure that your baby is safe while you are affected by the medications given to you during your cesarean.
If your baby does remain with you while you are affected by medication, it is vital that you are not alone and that you and your baby are under constant supervision.
After your baby is born, they will be placed on your chest in the skin to skin position and will remain there while the doctors stitch your cesarean wound. Evidence on skin-to-skin contact suggests that newborns that are placed skin to skin with their mum immediately after birth and breastfeed within the first hour after birth have better breastfeeding outcomes. This includes a reduced risk of the delay in your milk coming in, improved milk production, and increased breastfeeding duration.
It is therefore important that the mum is given the opportunity to breastfeed and have the baby skin to skin immediately after birth in the delivery room. Avoiding any maternal-baby separation in the first hours is recommended. Zero separation ensures that you and your baby can stay together. The allocated nurse or midwife will be able to assist you to safely put your baby to the breast even if you are groggy from the medication.
If you are unable to have skin-to-skin contact, have a backup plan for someone who can, and make sure the hospital team knows your wishes. When choosing a hospital to birth at, ask them what their policy on zero separation is and let them know your preferences.
Feed and/or Express Frequently
Regardless of the type of delivery that you have, it is important to feed your baby often. Feeding your baby frequenly will help to boost your supply and help switch your milk supply on.
Typically, newborn babies will breastfeed eight to twelve times per 24 hours, with the interval varying from two to three hours on average. However, this varies widely between babies.
Offer your baby the breast every time that they signal to you that they are ready to feed (stirring, rousing from sleep, licking their lips) and let them feed at the breast for as long as they desire.
If your baby is unable to feed effectively or is separated from you, it is important to start expressing, a minimum of 8 times in 24 hours, until your baby is feeding effectively. If you are concerned that your baby is not feeding effectively or if breastfeeding is painful, ask your midwife/nurse/lactation consultant for assistance.
Post Cesarean Section Pain Management
While you are recovering from your cesarean section, it is likely that you will experience some pain. Pain from the incision site is common, and you may also experience pain from your uterus contracting (after pains) back down to size. Pain can make breastfeeding a little more challenging.
Many pain medications are compatible with breastfeeding, so don’t be afraid to ask for pain medication. If you are on top of your pain control, your recovery will feel smoother, and it will be easier to position your baby to feed effectively.
Different breastfeeding positions such as the football hold can take the weight of your baby off your incision site and make breastfeeding easier while you are healing. Make sure you ask for help with positioning if you are having any difficulties
Have you or anyone that you know gone through a cesarean section? What did they tell you about the experience – and how they recovered from it? Let’s have a chat and support each other.
Medela is excited to unveil new research conducted by Australia’s very own Dr Donna Geddes of University of Western Australia, which explains the role breast milk plays in preventing childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity is a major public health issue in Australia, associated with significant risk for chronic disease.
A Growing Problem for Australian Children
Did you know that 1 in 4 Australian children between the ages of 2-17 are overweight or obese?
For many years, the belief has been that rapid growth in an infant is detrimental later in life and that the only relationship between the growth of the baby was thought to be the volume of milk: more volume, more growth.
A New Way of Looking at Obesity in Breastfed Babies
The gap in research is that, in the past, measuring obesity in breastfed babies has focused exclusively on the growth rate of the baby.
Dr Geddes’ research is the first of its kind in that it debunks longstanding breast milk myths in regards to infant body composition and appetite regulation.
This is due to the fact that previous studies of obesity and body composition were carried out on formula-fed babies, which lacks many of the components that are in breast milk.
A Fascinating Result!
It appears the combination of the concentration components in breast milk ensure the development of the right amount of fat and muscle for each baby.
Dr Geddes’s research finds that, it’s not size per se, or weight, that really affects an infant’s body composition.
This is due to the appetite controlling hormones- leptin and adiponectin- which are also present in some of infant formula milks, but in lower doses, which cannot adapt to the individual infant’s diet or stage of development.
This means that the unique programming qualities found in breast milk operate very differently, with its unique ability to tailor every feed to the infant’s needs and provide a precise dose of required hormones.
They’re also more likely to take in a more varied diet – here’s to kids who enjoy trying new foods!
So, What Does All This Mean?
Babies who receive breast milk in their diet have the best chance for their hormones to self-regulate and prevent the likelihood of childhood obesity.
Mother’s Milk, Everyday Amazing!
Dr Geddes will be presenting her findings at the 14th International Breastfeeding and Lactation Symposium on the 4 – 5 April 2019 in London.