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Tips for Breast-Feeding in Public
The advice on breastfeeding seems to flow thick and fast. Please forgive the pun. Some advice is often quite prescriptive; particularly to new mothers in the beginning, from well intentioned and busy midwives. Often the best advice comes from other Mums who have been there recently and learnt from their experience. Forums such as 'mumsnet' are often invaluable sources of frank and honest advice. If you read just some of the posts, the main thread of advice that comes through is; relax, take the prescriptive advice with a pinch of salt, let baby take the lead a bit and don't get stress about it! After all, the alternative is far from the end of the world!
It is important to know that babies are individuals. They may have slightly different feeding patterns, or yours may have a bigger appetite than others! Newborns can cluster feed in the evenings. Feeding all night for the first few weeks doesn't mean they've got night and day mixed up and is actually not to bad a situation, because night is when levels of hormones are higher and it helps get breastfeeding established. Also, wear a sleeping bra, but make sure it isn't too tight or you could end up with mastitis.
One of the main initial problems women encounter when breastfeeding is 'latching on'. There are many sources of advice on this, not least your midwife, and it is wise to establish that the baby is latched on properly and is getting milk before you leave the hospital. If you are unsure what you are doing is working, don't be afraid to get a second opinion. Another great source of advice about latching on is on the Dr Jack Newman website.
Then comes the issue of feeding in public. After all, baby does not know when you are meeting a friend for coffee or sat in the doctor's waiting room waiting for a check up. This can be another substantial source of anxiety and another reason why mums choose to stop early on.
This need not be the case though. It is virtually impossible to organize your life around feeding times and therefore it is best to be more relaxed about it and just be prepared. There are many products available that can assist mums (and their babies) to gain confidence in the early days of breastfeeding in public. The breastfeeding cover (or apron) is one such product. These covers can work well throughout your days of breastfeeding in public, particularly as baby gets older and is more prone to distraction. The breastfeeding cover / apron creates a nice cocooned environment for you both. This way, if you do feel a little self conscious when breastfeeding in public, you can cover up using an apron. Many mothers use cloths but this tends to not be as comfortable for the baby, and as a mother, you lose eye contact with the baby and can't check as easily whether they are feeding well.
Advice comes from all directions when you are a new mum, and much of it seems contradictory. It can be a great strain when you are worried about doing the right thing. Probably the best advice is to listen but in the end, judge what seems to be right for your baby.
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