Breastfeeding Expectation with Medela

"Breast or bottle?" It's surprising how many times I have been asked during my pregnancy on my preferred way of feeding my baby. It hasn't just been doctors and midwives' either, but friends, family and even strangers. There was no doubt in my mind, from day one that I would be breastfeeding my son. So when I proudly state, "breast of course..." and the faces drop, I wondered if I'd been living under a rock and missed some vital new research telling us that breastmilk is in fact harmless. That of course wasn't the case but - like with the negative birth stories - people like to put the fear of god into first time Mums for some reason, something I will hopefully never do.

In my mind there is no choice. We are built to conceive, carry and feed our baby's and civilisation has managed to survive pretty well until the introduction of formula milk in the early 1900's. It is one of the most beneficial things we can give our newborn to protect against illness and build immunity, so why are so many people against it as there are only 2% of women that physically can't breastfeed.

I'm completely aware that breastfeeding isn't easy. It's demanding, painful and can be a bit gross but the moment I look down and see my son latch for the first time will expel any fears I may have niggling away in the back of my mind. Nothing in life is easy and we often have to work hard and preserver to make things work. I'm well aware that my nipples will be sore and possibly bleed and I will find myself leaking milk. I'm also prepared to be awake throughout the night and feel an overwhelming exhaustion for the first few months as I'm feeding on demand. But none of those things will matter when he's in my arms and I see his little face enjoying every drop. The look in his eyes as we share those precious moments.

I'm under no illusions that there will be times I may struggle. I may find myself overwhelmed by emotion and unable to cope but when you're determined to make something work you let nothing stand in your way not even negativity and horror stories. I will feed my son for as long as he needs me and that will be his decision not mine.

I am working with Medela to promote the positive message of breastfeeding and to encourage other Mothers in their breasfeeding journeys. I have a wonderful group of friends who work as my support network offering first hand advice. It's time to surround yourself with positivity, join a group, read the books and genuinely believe you can do it and you're bound to succeed.

I was given the chance to ask Medela's own Lactation Consultant a few questions on breastfeeding and I came up with three that I think really helped me understand the basics of breastfeeding.

How will I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

In the early few weeks both you and baby are establishing a milk supply during this time you will have a regular feeding pattern so do not start worrying it is because you do not have enough milk. This ranges but a newborn would be expected to feed frequently every 1-4 hrs and have frequent night feeds. You would expect to have at least 8-16 breastfeeds per day in the first few weeks.

Some babies may feed from just the one breast others take both and some take a variety depending on their needs, hunger and comfort. In the early days feeds do take longer as both of you are learning, but as baby gets older he gets more efficient at removing the milk. Listen and watch your baby feed. Your baby will have bursts of lots of sucking and then swallowing of milk, the suck will be deep and slow when milk is taken from the breast and at the beginning of a feed light and fast to trigger your milk ejection reflex. Cluster feeds are normal especially in early evening, put your feed up and enjoy them.

Always make sure you have a good feed from the first breast so that baby gets the fat rich milk before offering the second breast.

A great tip to keeping an eye if baby is getting enough milk is checking the nappies.

Day one - your baby may not have a very wet nappy and his urine a little concentrated but as he feeds his urine will become more straw coloured. He will pass a meconium ( tar like stool)

Day 2 onwards - his nappies will become heavier with more urine and he will continue to pass meconium, but it will start changing and you may see a changing stool.

Day 3-5 - your milk will come to volume and your baby will have wet nappies at each nappy change and his stools will become to look like a soft, loose mustard coloured stool. Lots of poo means lots of milk in the first 4-6 weeks after birth.

4-6 weeks - your baby will regulate what you need to produce and it's normal for a breastfed baby not to pass a stool everyday - some babies go a week as there is very little waste product and your baby uses it all up, as long as baby is feeding well, happy and not in any discomfort this is fine

Also keep an eye on weight, your baby looses weight immediately after birth, as he adapts to life outside mum. He may get rid of excess fluid that has crossed the placenta during delivery if mum had an assisted delivery / Caesarian too. Within the first 2 weeks babies lose 10% of their birth weight, but occasionally more and your midwife will look out for this.

By day 10-14 your baby should be back at his birth weight and gaining weight at a good pace.

Babies grow at different paces and it's good to measure head and length as well as weight as sometimes weight levels out but his brain continues to grow. Around 4 months breastfed weight gain does level out a little.

If you are not sure talk with your midwife or health visitor and they can do a Breastfeeding assessment with you.

Are there any foods I should avoid whilst breastfeeding? And are there any foods that help produce milk?

Babies who are breastfed experience a variety of tastes through mums milk and move onto family foods much easier. In the early days carry on eating as you did in pregnancy and if baby is a little more fussy then you could look at what you are the day before.
Some foods do make baby more gassy such as cruciferous vegetables - onions, cabbage etc, but you need to balance it out against a healthy tasty diet for you. If you find that your baby is fussy and showing distress it may be the immature digestive system and he may find he has difficulty with certain food categories in your diet such as dairy, diet drinks etc. Don't exclude right away, just see if they are a contributory factor.

Coffee and caffeine - it's advisable to only have 2-3 drinks a day , again follow recommendations for pregnancy if your baby is a little agitated fretful, see if it is the amount of tea, coffee, soft drinks and opt to decaf fainted options.

Omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids - aa and Dha essential to boost brain and eye development, boost immunity in both baby and mum. It can protect and support emotional well being. it is recommended that you eat two portions of oily fish a week such as mackerel, salmon, sardines.

Walnuts and flax are also high in these omega rich properties and some products have been fortified with omega 3 - 6 such as cereals, dairy and eggs.

All breastfeed mothers should take vitamin D supplementation and from 6 months of age your baby will also need vitamins if not receiving formula until the age of 5. Eating a balanced diet is the key.

Some herbs and spices help maintain milk production but these are anecdotal fenugreek is a herb that can boost prolactin eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day and have lots of nutritious snacks to give you regular blood sugar levels .

Should I feed my baby on demand or try and stick to a routine?

Feed your baby to meet his needs and yours. Responsive feeding does this. Babies don't come with a clock, only their own internal system. Breastfeeding is so much more than food and you meet your baby's needs in comfort, safety etc. It's difficult to stick to a routine, but if being led by your baby - be led by your body also…if you need to go out feed before you go, if your breasts are full feed baby, just because he fed an hour ago doesn't mean you should be uncomfortable.
Baby’s feeding pattern varies day to day, and at different stages of his first year and being flexible is how it is successful. Most babies can have a loose routine around bath, daytime activities and bedtimes. Remember all babies wake at night in their sleep states, some babies just wake and go back to sleep and parents think they sleep through because the baby didn't wake them, other babies need the reassurance that mum is around and near, others are hungry and want a feed and cuddles and feeds come together.

The only fixed routine we have is we usually sleep at night and awake during the day, this is the human biological clock - we feed to the needs of our babies, we keep them close to keep them warm and safe. If they feed frequently this is just because human milk has just the right nutrition for human babies and because human milk has readily available fats, that are easily broken down by the baby, and because baby’s tummy sizes are small they need to be fed often.

Being flexible is the key - invest in getting Breastfeeding off to a great start and well established. Babies need their mums not a cot or a pram or a clock, nor can they read the vast self help baby books.

Go by your instinct, talk to mums and get practical support and advice.

Today I'm six days over due and eagerly awaiting my baby boys arrival, he's a lazy little thing. I can't even express how excited I am and the part I'm most looking forward to is breastfeeding. It's the most important thing you can do for your child and it not only supports them through growth but mentally he will be a more caring, loving child. I am in no way against Mother's who decide to bottle feed it is of course personal preference and situation often dictates, work commitments etc. However this is my journey into motherhood and I feel this is the best thing I can possibly give my son. So hurry up and make an appearance, Mummy can't wait to see you! 

Post your positive breastfeeding stories below, I would love to hear from you.
Laurie Rose 


  1. well done for having a positive attitude towards breastfeeding, I hope it goes well. It's probably important to mention that formula fed babies will also be loving and caring too. h

  2. Great post. I wish you all the best in your journey into motherhood.
    If I could add one more thing that may help you... pain and cracked, bleeding nipples should not 'normal' . It usually indicates that baby is having problems latching. It could be an indication of tongue or lip tie. Please get help if you feel pain.
    An initial twinge of pain in the 1st few seconds when baby latches is normal for a few weeks. But if it doesnt ease for the entire nursing session, get it checked.

  3. Anonymous17:15

    Super blog. Pozdrawiam i zapraszamy do nas ;*