Things I Did Not Know about Breastfeeding

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“I wish someone had told me how difficult breastfeeding could be!” This is one of the most common comments I hear when I see women at their 3-week postnatal appointment. It’s not for everyone but if you’re planning on breastfeeding your little one, here are some things you may not know.


We know from research that “breast is best”. Breast milk contains many vitamins, minerals, enzymes, electrolytes, antibacterial properties, antimicrobial properties, & anti-fungal properties that formula simply does not have (The Milk Meg, 2019). Breast may be “best” but that’s not to say “breast is easy”. For some women, breastfeeding can have its challenges.  You may get sore or tender nipples. Those nipples of yours have never had an infant suckling on them before day in, day out. It’s good to keep in mind that sore nipples can also be a sign of a poorly attached baby. So, what can you do to minimise nipple pain? Make sure your baby is attached to the breast well each time they feed. By “good attachment” I mean allow time for your baby’s mouth to open naturally, drawing in the nipple and some of the surrounding breast tissue. Avoid holding your baby by the back of the head, neck or shoulders – this increases the incidence of nipple pain or damage. Observe that your baby’s nostrils, chin and both cheeks are in contact with your breast (face to breast symmetry). Relax, as long you are engaged with your baby and monitoring your baby’s behaviour, you will not suffocate your baby with your breasts – your baby’s nostrils contour the shape of your breast to allow for ease of air flow. If you do find your nipples are getting a bit tender, simply express some colostrum/breast milk onto your nipple and gently rub into the affected area (with clean hands), allowing it to air dry (The Thompson Method: Breastfeeding).


Antenatal expressing may give you a good head start with breastfeeding in those early days. Antenatal expressing can be performed from 36 weeks gestation and involves massaging the breasts in a way that expels the colostrum in your breasts out of the nipple for collection and storage. This stored colostrum will come in handy if you have a newborn that is sleepy at the breast and doesn’t want to latch on properly; if you have a particularly hungry baby that requires more colostrum than you can provide; if you have a baby that has low blood sugars (in the case of a diabetic mother) that requires more than just regular breastfeeding to maintain their blood sugar levels; if you have a premature baby; or if you have damaged nipples that need a period of rest. The midwives at Eve can educate you on how to express colostrum from your breasts and provide you with the equipment you require to store it. Expressing is a good skill to have as it is common to hand express in the first few days of baby’s life and can be a bit undignified if a midwife does it for you.


Night 2 is often a rough one and day 3 can be an emotional one. It’s important to know that the day that your baby is born tends to be a quieter one. By “quiet” I mean babies tend to be pretty exhausted from the events of their BIRTH DAY. This isn’t a blanket rule by any means – some baby’s come out absolutely ravenous! Others however, don’t seem too interested in feeding at all! If you have the latter- a sleepy baby who doesn’t seem to be interested in feeding, try waking him/her up by undressing him/her and placing baby skin-to-skin. The more skin-to-skin you have with your baby, the quicker breastfeeding will become established and the quicker your transitional milk will come in (usually around day 3 of life). In the meantime, colostrum is all your baby requires in those first few days of life. Let’s now talk about night 2. Night 2 can be a rough one. You get next to no sleep as baby just wants to feed, feed, feed (cluster feeding). Some women become worried that perhaps their baby is suckling at the breast so often because they don’t have enough “milk” for their baby. This is NOT the case in most instances. Cluster feeding on night 2 is an important part of getting your transitional milk to come in. When your breasts are stimulated by a suckling infant at the breast, your brain releases a hormone called prolactin – this hormone is what produces your breast milk. Your baby is simply encouraging your brain to produce plenty of prolactin and therefore help your milk to come in. Consequently, the next day (day 3) is often an exhausting and emotional one. Some women may experience the baby blues. The baby blues is a temporary condition some women may experience in the early days following birth. Women usually feel very emotional and upset and sometimes cry for no particular reason. These symptoms usually disappear within a few days, and there is generally no need for any treatment other than understanding, rest and support (Centre of Perinatal Excellence, 2019). The exact cause of the “baby blues” is unknown however, I could have an educated guess and suggest it’s related to a combination of exhaustion from lack of sleep, hormonal changes (which are drastic at the time of birth and initial post-natal period), and perhaps emotions from the childbirth experience itself. Make sure you utilise the midwives during your postnatal stay in hospital – it is our job to support and help you transition into your parenting role.


At the end of the day, breastfeeding is an individual choice – but should be an informed choice. Breastfeeding is not the be all and end all – if breastfeeding is not for you, you can be reassured that formulas will give your baby the adequate nutrition he/she needs to grow into a healthy child. The midwives here at Eve are here to help you navigate your way through whatever feeding journey you choose. They can assist you in troubleshooting any breastfeeding issues you may have. They also have an extensive list of very experienced and sought-after private lactation consultants that they can refer you to if they deem it necessary. They can help you develop a feeding plan if you choose to mix feed (i.e. breast/formula) and can also provide you with techniques to reduce/stop breast milk production in those that choose to formula feed. There are many places that offer breastfeeding education classes antenatally – it may be a good idea to book into one of these if you are anticipating breastfeeding issues or simply want to know more about breastfeeding before your journey begins. The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) is also a good resource to have on file. Book an appointment with an Eve midwife today to start planning your infant feeding journey.



Jean Halvorsen is a passionate and experienced midwife, dedicated to providing the most up-to-date midwifery care and knowledge to both high & low risk women and their families.

As a mother of two young children, Jean feels she can closely relate to the patients she sees and has a good understanding and knowledge of pregnancy and its related ailments.  She provides bespoke one-on-one antenatal education sessions and is passionate about providing women and their families with the information they need to be able to make informed decisions.




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