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A Breastfeeding Expert Answers Your Questions

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with breastfeeding expert Geraldine Miskin? Don’t worry, you can read all of the advice she shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby, we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your fertility, pregnancy and parenting questions from a top expert.  


This week, breastfeeding expert Geraldine Miskin was on board to give you advice. 

Geraldine is a certified breastfeeding specialist and the author and creator of The Miskin Method, a unique approach to breastfeeding, which primarily focuses on the practical elements of breastfeeding and helping mums to find breastfeeding solutions that are perfect for them.
If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

I’m a second time mum and breastfeeding my first child was a disaster. I want to try again but I’m worried about getting myself into a state about it. What tips do you have to make breastfeeding work and how do I know when to walk away?

Geraldine Miskin: I'm sorry to hear that you had a tough time but you’re not alone – many mums find breastfeeding more of a challenge than they expected to.

I always encourage mums to give up on a good day, when you aren’t tired, fed up, sore, exhausted or miserable. More often than not, second-time mums find that breastfeeding is easier, that they have more milk than the first time because they aren't as nervous about everything as they were with the first baby, so it is good to be cautiously optimistic.

READ: BREASTFEEDING TIPS THE EXPERTS WANT YOU TO KNOW

The challenge of feeding the second time round is more to do with having a toddler in tow that is not happy about playing second fiddle! I would suggest that you don't put too much pressure on yourself. See how things go, you may find that expressing exclusively works better or having 90 per cent breast and 10 per cent formula is easier or combining breastfeeding and expressing works best. It is not a race, just an opportunity to find what works for you.

Are there any natural healing remedies for sore nipples? I haven’t found any of the over the counter creams much use.

Geraldine Miskin: I wonder what type of pain in particular you are experiencing as different types of pain indicate different causes. It may be worth having a word to your GP. If your nipples are chapped, apply a hot wet face cloth to the nipple just before feeding. This will soften any dry skin and prevent less damage when baby latches.

If your nipples are chapped, apply a hot wet face cloth to the nipple just before feeding

You can also bathe or soak your nipples for a couple of minutes after feeds in a dilute salt water bath – usually just a pinch of salt in an egg cup of nice warm water. Citricidal (grapefruit seed extract) is also very good at healing sore nipples as it is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal but it is incredibly bitter, so if you use it, be sure to rinse the breast well or your little one might be seriously unimpressed.

READ: THE CELEBRITY MUM TAKE ON BREASTFEEDING

A remedy that I find is great is Manuka honey. It has many healing properties but again, if you do decide to use it, be sure to wash the breast well before feeding as your baby as he won't tolerate honey very well. I hope you find a solution sooner rather than later but I would suggest popping in to your GP for a chat, too.

I’m expecting twins and want to breastfeed for 12 months but after attending classes it seems the best I can hope for is mixed feeding. There seems to be a real downer about ‘twums’ (twin mums) exclusively breastfeeding. Will I be able to? And what usually leads to mums stopping early?

Geraldine Miskin: I have met many 'twums' who have successfully breastfeed babies without resorting to combination feeding. I have found mums with slightly larger breasts to have an easier time as they were able to express a couple of times a day to supplement as and where needed, or just to have a break and allow somebody else to take care of a feed.

Your body will produce as much milk as your babies demand

Many small-breasted mums have also successfully breastfed but as expressing can be a tad trickier, these mums just breastfed. The important thing to remember is that your body will produce as much milk as your babies demand, that your babies get stronger and better at breastfeeding and that it does get easier and feeds get shorter.

Plan to enjoy spending time with the little ones, don't take on too many other things – maybe let somebody else do Christmas lunch. Winter is a lovely time to spend inside nesting with babies, so don't worry.

READ: 12 AMAZING USES FOR BREAST MILK (ASIDE FROM BREASTFEEDING)

Babies are very individual and have individual feeding patterns and needs. This can mean that to start with, you may feel like you are feeding endlessly. Usually one twin is smaller, sleepier, and hungrier than the other but over time, they start to wake and want feeds at similar times.

Try feeding them together if you can as this really makes things a lot more manageable. Don't be afraid to ask for help, the sooner you all know what you are doing, the sooner things will settle down.

I struggle to express much milk. I don't pump every day, sometimes I get none at all, I take Pregnacare daily and try to eat and drink plenty. Do you have any top tips?

Geraldine Miskin: Many mums struggle to express milk as the pump is not as efficient as your baby is. I have also found the smaller breasted mums find it harder, possibly because there is less glandular tissue and so not as much excess milk.

It sounds like you are doing all the right things with regards to your diet. First things to check are the following:
-    When expressing, ensure that the nipple is centred to the shield.
-    Sit the cup on the breast but don't push it in too firmly, or you will create a 'kink in a hosepipe' scenario and prevent milk flow.
-    Increase the suction to a comfortable level – you are not aiming for maximum.
-    Don't stare – breasts are prone to stage fright so instead chat to baby, plan a meal or treat to take your mind off expressing.
-    Ensure that you are warm and comfortable.
-    Massage the breast whilst you express as this will help you drain the breast effectively.
-    Apply heat to the breast or even have a nice hot wheat bag over your shoulders to help you relax.
-    Close your eyes and imagine milk flow spraying into the cylinder - your brain can't easily differentiate what is real or imaginary and that is why visualisation works.

If you have small breasts, you may need to wait an hour or so after a feed before you try expressing. When you do, try switch pumping – expressing from both sides in 5-7 minute stretches. The more regularly you pump, the quicker your body should get used to it and the sooner milk should start flowing.

READ: BABY HEALTH TONGUE TIE

My baby has become really gassy. She seems really uncomfortable and it's become worse over the last month. Since I'm breastfeeding, what should I be doing to lessen her wind?
Geraldine Miskin: I'm not sure how old your little one is but I find that babies tend to become a lot windier around the six-week mark but it usually settles by week 12. If your baby is younger, she may be going through a growth spurt, which boosts your supply and encourages a faster flow, which can lead to more wind.

Often mums find that the morning feeds are fast and furious and the afternoon feeds are slow and relaxed

The best thing to do is to listen for any clicking or gulping during the feed. Take her off and wind her well as soon as her swallowing slows down, keeping her back nice and straight so that wind can come up more readily. By breaking a feed to burp her, you will be able to get air up quickly before it becomes trapped under large volumes of milk.

You can also lean back once you have latched her on, if you think some of the wind is due to milk flow. Often mums find that the morning feeds are fast and furious and the afternoon feeds are slow and relaxed. If baby is taking in a lot of wind at her first feed, this wind will bumble along in her gut the entire day, which can make subsequent feeds more uncomfortable.

There are many winding aids you can consider using. Some mums find that baby tea quite helpful and natural, other natural remedies include Windy Pops now rebranded as Bubble-be-gone.

Some mums have found that nipple shields break or moderate a fast flow at the start of the feed, which reduces wind intake, so there is less to try and coax out.

READ: HOW MUCH MILK DOES YOUR BABY NEED?

I need some advice on how to transition my nine-month-old daughter to drink breast milk from a bottle or cup. When I first returned to work she refused to drink milk from the bottle but began doing so. However, after one week of being home after becoming unemployed, once again she’s refusing to drink milk from anything that isn't my chest. Any tips?

Geraldine Miskin: Babies are very much in tune with their mums. It is not uncommon for their feeding behaviours to change when big changes happen in the family. I find that it makes them a little insecure and this is when they often revert back to basics/breastfeeding at all costs.

By breastfeeding she is sure that you will be there, it's her way of keeping you close. Try not to worry too much about things at the moment, spend as much time with her as possible but try to find new ways of bonding that isn't breast related.

Maybe you can introduce a special teddy, blankie or something that is comforting before you try to wean her back onto a sippy cup. She clearly thinks you are the best, which is wonderful, but can feel a tad restricting when you are worried about her getting enough milk when you are away.

How can I stop my 18-day-old son taking in so much air when feeding?

Geraldine Miskin: It is important to try and ascertain the root of the problem, as there will be different solutions. For instance, some mums produce a lot of milk or have a very fast let down reflex. This forces the baby to swallow milk very quickly and can lead to wind intake.

If this sounds right, try leaning right back once he has latched onto the breast. This will slow down your flow and make it easier for him to control your milk flow. You can also take him off frequently to wind or burp, especially if you hear him gulping or clicking during the feed.

READ: 12 ESSENTIAL ITEMS TO HELP WITH BREASTFEEDING

Milk flow is fastest at the start of the feed, so even if you lean back to start with, it should help. If your flow is average but baby is clicking and seems to break the seal during the feed, it may be that he doesn't have enough breast in his mouth on latch, or that the breast is moving or slipping out of his mouth during the feed.

I've seen many mums lift their breast, latch their baby on, keep their baby nice and high up, but then let go of the breast which moves downward and pulls out of baby's mouth. When you let go of your breast after latching, just be sure to move both baby and breast down or to the side, to maintain a good latch. It may also be worth having your baby assessed for a tongue-tie, which often creates a lot more wind regardless of how beautifully he has latched.

I'd like some tips on moving my seven-month-old daughter from breast to bottle with expressed milk, so I can feel comfortable leaving her when I go back to work?

Geraldine Miskin: Moving a baby from breast to bottle at seven months is no easy feat, but there are things to try.

Some babies are happy to learn to feed from a nipple shield at the breast first, to get used to the silicon texture before moving onto a bottle. I find that if you choose one feed when you know you are both calm and relaxed and not in a hurry to get out, it is a good time to practice bottlefeeding.

Start by offering the breast first and then offer the bottle, then the breast again when she gets cross. This teaches her that you want her to try something new, but you won't take the breast away from her. Use the breast to pacify her when she gets frustrated – there is no point in locking horn but I have found that calm persistent perseverance is usually all it takes.

What topics would you like covered in the Wednesday Lunch Club? Let us know in the comments box below.

 
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