These days, most expectant mothers will plan to breastfeed their babies. This comes with many questions and challenges, so, to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, we asked Certified Lactation Consultant and founder of Nursingmama, Katy Mugan, to answer your breastfeeding questions.
Meet Katy Mugan
Katy Mugan is a mum of four, a registered General, Paediatric & Public Health Nurse, and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. Having breastfed all four of her children and experienced very different journeys on each, Katy became very aware of the challenges parents can face.
“As a PHN, I was seeing so many women having issues that may not have arisen, if they had education in breastfeeding in the antenatal period.” Katy explains. “This led me to specialise in lactation support and create my unique online live Breastfeeding Preparation class.”
Nursingmama also provides antenatal and postnatal online & in-person consultations. For more information check out www.nursingmama.ie and follow @nursingmama on Instagram for tips and advice on all things baby related
Your Breastfeeding Questions Answered
Q: I plan to combination feed, and I am having a c-section. Should I harvest colostrum before the baby is born?
A: If you are having a planned c-section, then speak to your consultant. You might be able to do some skin-to-skin while the consultant is suturing you back up. If this option is not available, the baby will be handed to the partner and they will start their bonding process. When the mum returns to the recovery room, the baby will be placed skin to skin with mum and hopefully with the help of a midwife, the baby will have its very first feed.
If you have harvested colostrum, this is a great option to have if you are separated for a prolonged period. It’s also beneficial if your baby needs extra supplementation because you will have colostrum on hand to give to the baby.
Please note: Harvesting your colostrum is not recommended before 37 weeks and must be approved by the consultant.
Q: We have a water softener installed; can I use this water for our baby’s bottle/toddler drink?
A: Drinking softened water is perfectly fine for adults and children but can be dangerous for a small infant. It depends on the water softening system that is in place in your home, and the sodium content within the water which should not exceed more than 200mg/l. If this sodium level is exceeded, it is not safe to make up formula using this water.
Q: How do you deal with an oversupply of breastmilk?
A: Having an over-supply can be as difficult to deal with as under-supply. With an over-supply, we don’t always worry about excessive weight gain in infants. What we do look at is the impact it can have on the mother. Oversupply can lead to engorgement, blocked ducts, or mastitis, so it’s about managing the whole situation.
We often see with over-supply that the baby will feed from one breast per feed which can help reduce that supply. In some situations where we have serious issues with over-supply you can consider doing block feedings. This is where we can use one breast for 1-3 feeds, and then change on to the other breast and do the same. This should always be undertaken with caution and under guidance from a certified lactation consultant as this can really help reduce supply.
Q: How long can you leave a 7-week-old to sleep at night without feeds?
A: This very much depends on every mother, and every baby. If the baby is gaining weight well, is having plenty of wet and dirty nappies, is happy and content and is feeding regularly during the day then we follow their lead during the night. If the baby is looking for a soother at night, this might be where the baby is looking for a feed. You can sometimes see that over time, baby’s weight might change or mum’s milk supply can change.
Q: Can a breastfeeding baby have a routine?
A: Breastfeeding can be very unpredictable, so parents need to be responsive. It’s not possible to measure how much a baby takes in, which means you can’t really do scheduled feeds. For instance, at one feed a baby can take 60ml, at another feed they can take 130ml or 45ml.
Due to this uncertainty, setting a baby individual feeds might not always work. How much and how often baby feeds often depends on the mother’s milk storage capacity. Remember, breastfeeding isn’t all about nutrition, it’s about comfort as well.
Q: Can I lose weight without affecting the milk supply for breastfeeding my baby?
A: Short answer, yes you can. However, in those early days and weeks, we encourage a mother to take in an extra 500kcal for every baby you are feeding because your metabolism rises quite rapidly. You may find you get hungry while you’re feeding your baby. This is the time to look at your food choices. Instead of going for a biscuit, choose a more protein filled food source. Later, if you want to lose weight and want to decrease your calorie intake, we don’t recommend going lower than 1800 calories in a day. That said, if you were already running at, say, 2,500 calories a day and suddenly you drop to 1,800 calories, this can affect your milk supply. So, if you are reducing your calorie intake, do it gradually over time.
Q: When moving baby from breastfeeding to formula. Is it normal that the baby seems hungrier?
A: Making the transition from breast to bottle can take time for everything to regulate and settle down. Once your baby is completely weaned off the breast and is fully on formula, you’ll notice the pattern emerging between the length of time between feeds and the volume they’re taking.
The guide at the back of the tin is just a guide, not a target to reach. You must remember that when it comes to breastfeeding, you never knew how much the baby takes in. A baby will often feed more often when on formula than when breastfeeding. Your baby sees the breast as a form of comfort so it keeps coming back for that feeling and might now be looking to do the same for formula feeds. What is important when bottle feeding is to make sure your baby takes the full amount at each feeding session.
World Breastfeeding Week is an annual celebration held every year, and takes place from 1st to 7th August 2022, across more than 120 countries. If you have any breastfeeding questions, always ask a qualified consultant.
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