Many women are reluctant to admit breastfeeding struggles to their partner new study finds
The first few months of motherhood can be a raw, emotional and – to many – very lonely time.
And while we all know how beneficial breastfeeding is to the health of our babies, the reality is that many, many of us struggle with it. Some for a while, some for the entire time they are breastfeeding.
And to so many women, finding they are struggling with something that to others seems to come so natural, can feel overwhelmingly upsetting, sad and to many even shameful.
In fact, according to a new study released to tie in with World Breastfeeding Week (1st-7th August), figures show that as many as 1 in 10 British women would feel uncomfortable discussing their breastfeeding struggles with their partner. The survey, conducted by Multi-Mam breastfeeding compresses, also found the same number of women said they would also feel uncomfortable discussing these issues with their GP and 11 percent said they would even feel uncomfortable talking about their struggles with their mum.
However, research has found that there is a strong link between breastfeeding success and a good support system, so it’s vital that women feel able to come forward and admit their difficulties and concerns and if necessary, seek additional help. In fact, a hospital-based study 24 hours postpartum showed how;
“Strong approval of breastfeeding by the partner was associated with a high incidence of breastfeeding (98.1 percent), compared to only 26.9 percent breastfeeding when the partner was indifferent to feeding choice.”
It is worth noting that when it comes to the term 'partner' – this can apply to a woman’s entire support system - sister, cousin, friend, fellow mama, partner or mother-in-law – all in all, support matters!
Making breastfeeding easier – what an expert has to say
We got in touch with Kilkenny-based Lactation Consultant Kitty Hackel to get her top tips for getting started with breastfeeding – and being proactive about getting your support system in place before baby has even arrived!
Gather your tribe
“Before baby arrives check out your local breastfeeding group," says Hackel.
"Borrow a good breastfeeding book from your local library, invite your partner to your breastfeeding preparation class and ask your mother or mother-in-law about their feeding experiences and open the conversation.”
To help get your breastfeeding off to the best start, the lactation consultant goes on to offer the following advice:
Honour the 'Golden Hour' after birth
As long as there are no complications, the focus after birth is for you and baby to enjoy some bonding time.
"Skin-to-skin with your baby can help regulate their temperature, heart rate and get breastfeeding off to the best start," Hackel explains.
"Skin-to-skin will trigger your body to produce Oxytocin, aka: the love hormone. Oxytocin will promote bonding between you and your baby and stimulate your milk production."
She reveals that this skin-to-skin time is the perfect setting to initiate your baby’s first feed.
"If you can’t have the golden hour straight away don’t worry, make it clear in your birth preferences that you wish to have this as soon as you can, bonding time is beneficial at any time, it is also lovely for dad to have skin-to-skin and to help with bonding where possible too."
Watch your baby not the clock
Hackel explains why you should aim to keep your baby with you as much as possible after birth – 'so you can get to know them and their cues.'
"Newborn babies will typically feed no less than eight and sometimes more than 12 times each 24 hours for the first several weeks. This may look like feeding every hour, or feeding every three hours.
Observe your baby for their hunger cues is key.
"Sticking their tongue out, moving their head from side to side, rooting, opening and closing their mouth and bringing their hands to their mouth, these are all signs that your baby is hungry," Hackel reveals.
"Offer them the breast at this stage, it is a lot harder to latch on an upset baby, so try and feed them before they get to this point."