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Family & Whanau: Good things to know

Me mōhio koe ki ngā āhuatanga pai mo te whāngai pēpi ki te wai ū

Dads, partners, family, whānau and friends can make a difference.

 

The Short A-Z Guide to Breastfeeding and Supporting Breastfeeding Mums

Anytime, Anywhere (Babies’ internal clocks)

Babies may need feeding and will give you cues for a feed (See the letter C for Cues) when they are ready. They don’t have a clock to look at, just an internal one that ‘rings’ when they’re ready!

Avoid dummies, teats, or pacifiers

Avoid offering the baby a teat, pacifier or a dummy – at least until breastfeeding is established well – that can take up to six weeks and sometimes longer. Teats, pacifiers and dummies can interfere with the baby learning about sucking at the breast.

Be ready to help

Whenever you can, help around the house with tidying, cooking, hanging out and folding the washing, nappies, and dealing with visitors (See the letter V for Visitors) in the hospital and at home.

Bathing the baby

A lovely activity for dads/partners to do to get that feeling of closeness with the baby. Skin-to-skin contact (See the letter S for Skin-to-Skin) stimulates the release of the love hormone Oxytocin (See the letter O for Oxytocin) and that makes everyone feel good. (You can also have a shower or a big warm Bath with your baby to get even more of that amazing skin-to-skin contact).

Breastmilk

Is the best milk, and Breastfeeding is the Best start to life for every Baby.

Birth

Make sure you think about Breastfeeding when you help your partner make her Birth plan. Things that help Breastfeeding go well are delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin between mum and baby after Birth, not separating mother and baby and getting support to make sure Breastfeeding gets off to a good start. Dads and partners can help make sure that these practices happen (unless there is a medical reason which can mean a delay sometimes).

Check out this lovely video about Birth and the first Breastfeed from the Healthy Children Project, Inc, and Dr Kajsa Brimdyr

And this short introductory video, also from the Healthy Children Project, Inc, and Dr Kajsa Brimdyr, about the 9 stages babies go through after Birth during Skin-to Skin contact with their mothers

Bonding

Breastfeeding is only one part of caring for a baby and there are lots of things dads/partners can do to develop a close relationship with the baby too. As babies grow they like to play, talk to their parents and have stories read to them.

They also enjoy bath-times (sometimes when they are very new they may not like having all their clothes taken off for a bath, but this phase passes quickly, and most babies quickly learn to love the water) with dad/partner, going for walks, having close cuddle times and being carried in a sling. Nappy changing is also a way of being involved with the baby! (See the letter B for Bathing the Baby)

Calming, Comforting (Breastfeeding soothes a baby)

That’s breastfeeding, because breastfeeding is not just about the milk. It’s much more than a food. It soothes a baby because of the Closeness to mum and the rhythm of the sucking. Babies who are secure become much more Calm and settled.

Changing Breast Milk (to meet baby needs)

Breastmilk Changes to meet the needs of the baby. It’s pretty amazing! The first milk – Colostrum – delivers a massive immune system boost to your baby in the first few days after birth. Then as the milk becomes greater in amount the Contents keep adjusting to be exactly what your baby needs to grow and stay well. Breastmilk never runs out of nutrients or immune system support Cells. It changes flavour too depending on what mums eat – Vanilla, Garlic and Carrot flavours have been identified. (See the letter T for Taste)

Cues for feeding

Check out this little video of feeding Cues

Crying is a late Cue and it’s harder to support babies on to the breast when they are Crying. Early Cues are the best – new babies may give you feeding Cues even with their eyes closed. Babies can be offered a breastfeed when they start to make mouthing or rooting movements with their mouths, lick their lips, stick their tongue out, or make sucking sounds. If mum and baby are establishing breastfeeding using the early Cues really helps.

Crowd Control (all about visitors)

When a mum is learning to breastfeed it can be really difficult to latch the baby on the breast with too many visitors around. This is where dads and partners can be very supportive. If in the maternity hospital you could suggest that everyone goes out for a short coffee or tea break or keeps their visits short, to give mum some private time to relax and breastfeed. At home Crowd Control could be as simple as a note on the door to say mum and baby are resting, or making sure mum and baby can have some private time for breastfeeding in a quiet space away from visitors.

Crying

As well as being a late Cue for breastfeeding, Crying happens when babies are unsettled for a range of reasons. (See the letter C for Cues for Feeding) It’s part of normal newborn, getting used to the world, unsettled baby behaviour, and it can be upsetting for tired parents. Dads and partners can help settle the baby by making sure the baby’s early feeding Cues are noticed and attended to, and by Carrying/rocking an unsettled baby to Calm her/him and help with settling. Giving the unhappy baby a nice warm bath can help too. (See the letter S for Sleep) As you get to know your baby more you’ll learn very quickly what works for you all. Peak Crying time may happen at about four weeks so don’t panic – keep Calm, Carry on supporting the breastfeeding mum, and try and settle the baby with all the tricks in your developing parental repertoire. Ask for help if you are finding it hard to cope with the unsettled newborn behaviour.

Dads and Partners

Dads and partners can be Dedicated, Devoted and Dazzling supporters for breastfeeding mums! Supporting breastfeeding is an important role and Dads are really important. Women are more likely to breastfeed if their partners are supportive.

Development

Breastfeeding supports a baby’s Development – brain and nervous system, growth and immunity.

Enjoy your baby

Enjoy watching the bond develop between you and the baby, and mum and baby. Even though breastfeeding is a mum activity, dads and partners can enjoy the baby by holding the baby, bathing the baby and having cuddles. It’s Enriching of the family bond.

Empty (breasts never are)

Well, breasts never actually get empty as they are not like bottles. Babies generally take about 75% of the available milk in the breast. Breast pumps remove about 50% of the milk. The more frequent and effective the breastfeeds are, the more the breastmilk is removed and then the milk synthesis speeds up. Synthesis just means that breastmilk is made by combining different things, and when breastmilk is removed effectively the breast makes the milk faster!

Food (helping parents)

Preparing breakfast, lunch or dinner, offering a sandwich and a glass of water while mum is breastfeeding is a First rate activity for dads, partners, grandparents, whānau and friends.

Preparing meals before the baby is born and Freezing them is a great idea. Family and Friends who arrive with a casserole or meal are Fabulous to have! Slow cookers can be very useful. Throw some casserole ingredients in there in the morning and dinner is served at the end of the day.

Food (for breastfeeding mums)

Breastfeeding mums don’t need to eat anything special and they don’t need to over-drink water. Just drinking to thirst is all that’s needed but having a glass of water ready, or brought to a mother while she’s breastfeeding is a great idea.

Breastmilk is amazing regardless of what mothers eat, but eating healthy Food helps mothers keep up their energy levels, recover from childbirth and stay well.

Friends (are important)

Friends are important but keep your visits to the new Family brief while they are getting to know each other in the first week after birth, and while breastfeeding is establishing.

While you are visiting, doing the dishes, hanging out or bringing in the washing, and making a cup of tea is usually very welcome.

Frequency of breastfeeds

Sometimes parents expect breastfeeding babies to Feed every three to Four hours but they very rarely do this. In fact most breastfed babies will Feed between 8 and 12 times in 24 hours (sometimes more and sometimes less) and this is very normal. Little tummies need frequent feeding. When babies feed frequently, sometimes mums think that’s a sign there’s something wrong with their milk – there’s not enough milk or it’s not good enough milk – but this is hardly ever true. (See the letter G for Growth Spurts and the letter M for Mythology)

Going out

Don’t be in a rush to Get mum out of the house in the couple of weeks after birth, but when you do leave the building (Getting out of the house for a break and Going for a walk can be really Good things to do), check out the breastfeeding friendly cafes on this webpage and make sure that mums know where to go to feel comfortable breastfeeding when they go out to meet friends. Taking breastfeeding babies out and about is easy, as breastfeeding can be done pretty well anywhere! (See the letter W for Welcome and the letter P for Public Breastfeeding)

Growth spurts

Are what happen to babies because, well, they’re Growing all the time! Because babies have these Growth spurts, or frequency times, they will be letting you know they need to feed more. This is normal but sometimes mums (and others) think this more frequent feeding means they haven’t got enough milk or that their milk is somehow lacking. (See the letter M for Mythology).

Reassurance and support to get through these busy times is needed. More feeding makes more milk too and sucking at the breast supports baby through her/his stages of development. (See the letter F for Frequency of Breastfeeds).

Hormones

(See the letter O for Oxytocin). Hormones are what make the milk and relax mum while breastfeeding. The other main Hormone apart from Oxytocin is called Prolactin and often called the milk Hormone. Prolactin is stimulated during breastfeeds and in turn stimulates the production of breastmilk. Prolactin has a relaxing effect on the mum and that’s useful as she is recovering from birth and often working hard to establish breastfeeding.

Help (Mum needs it)

It’s been mentioned before but here it is again. New mums (and dads) need lots of Help and support. Breastfeeding mums need Help to manage around the house and deal with any other children while they are establishing breastfeeding.

Help can take many forms – shopping, keeping other children amused (books, games, walks) tidying, cooking, and dishes. A listening non-judgemental ear is also Helpful.

Health

Babies are protected from infections (See the letter I for Infection Fighting Breastmilk) by breastfeeding but also protected from some childhood cancers, diabetes, obesity, asthma and sudden unexpected infant death (SUDI) too. It’s great for mum’s Health too with some protection from breast and ovarian cancers, reduced heart disease and osteoporosis risk.

Infection-fighting breastmilk

Breastmilk fights infections. Breastmilk contains special Ingredients that not only help the baby’s Immune system to develop strongly but can also make specialised prescriptions of Infection fighting cells that travel directly through breastmilk to the baby when needed. That’s why breastfed babies get Infections much less frequently and much less severely than babies who don’t get breastfed. Breastfeeding protects babies from ear, chest, tummy and bladder Infections.

Immune system

A baby’s immune system is developing all the time and reaches maturity when the baby is around two years of age. Because breastmilk is chock full of Immune antibodies it supports the baby’s Immature Immune System to develop well.

Investment (for future health)

Breastfeeding really is an Investment in the future health of your whānau/family (See the letter M for Money)

Joint effort (breastfeeding mums need support)

It’s much harder to breastfeed without the support of fathers, partners, whānau and friends so hang in there everyone. It’s worth it for the short and long-term.

Breastfeeding mums often get told a whole lot of things about breastfeeding that really aren’t true (See the letter M for Mythology) such as ‘you don’t have enough breastmilk’, ‘your breastmilk isn’t good enough’, ‘ you’re breastfeeding/picking up the baby too much’, ‘breastfeeding should stop at six months’, ‘formula is as good as breastmilk’ etc. If whānau and friends find out more about breastfeeding they can not only avoid saying these things themselves, but they can also reassure the mum that these comments are really not true when they come from other people.

Just right (breastmilk)

You’ve heard about Goldilocks and the three bears and how the baby’s bowl was ‘Just right’? Well, breastmilk is always ‘Just right’ – not only in terms of nutrition, but it’s ready to go and at the right temperature too. The original fast food and the shortest food mile!

Kangaroo care (skin-to-skin contact)

Kangaroo-Care is Skin-to-Skin contact (See the letter S for Skin-to-Skin) between a baby and her/his mother or father/partner that goes on for a lot longer than the Skin-to-Skin after birth.

It’s a practice that has developed within special care baby units to support bonding, breastfeeding, the baby’s development and responsive parenting. If your baby does go to a special care unit spend as much time doing Kangaroo-Mother-(and Kangaroo-Father)-Care as you can. It’s very beneficial for parents and babies. Fathers get releases of the love hormone Oxytocin when they have Skin-to-Skin contact with their babies too.

Listen (to each other)

Listen to each other. Becoming new parents is a big thing and developing your own parenting style can take time to grow into. Talking about anything that is worrying either of you is a good idea. Ask your family for support and find out more about where to get help if you need it outside the family by talking to your midwife or well child nurse.

Love potion (breastmilk and oxytocin)

That’s breastmilk, and the Love hormone oxytocin that’s stimulated by breastfeeding. Being close to the baby, breastfeeding and cuddling = more feelings of Love going around. (See the letter O for Oxytocin)

Love (bonding, hormones and babies)

It’s easy to see the close bond that babies develop with their mothers through breastfeeding, but dads/partners can have the same connected feeling by holding the baby close and spending time with the baby when she/he is quietly alert.

Your baby will start to smile at you – often sooner than you think. Most babies are smiling before four weeks of age, and if you see a smile that’s in response to your smile or when you talk to the baby, it’s more likely that this is really a smile and not wind. Babies love looking at their parents’ faces and start to make vocal sounds in response to talking when they are quite young. (See the letter B for Bonding)

Latching at the breast (making it work)

It’s really important that the baby Latches well on the breast to avoid sore nipples and to make sure breastmilk is removed effectively from the breast. Check out the short video below about the baby Latching at the breast. (See the letter S for Sore Nipples).

Minerals & Vitamins

Don’t worry – breastmilk has exactly what the baby needs in a perfect balance.

Mythology (not-so-true stories about breastfeeding)

These are things that are not true but which are widely believed to be true. When it comes to breastfeeding there are a lot of these Myths around, and they get passed on from whānau and friends. Some of them are not important but some of these stories can have a damaging effect on breastfeeding and mum’s confidence.

One Myth is that babies only feed every four hours like clockwork, and another is that they are supposed to sleep through the night at a very young age. Mums are sometimes told that their milk somehow runs out of value when the baby is a certain age. Two of the most damaging things that can be said to a new breastfeeding mum are that her milk supply is low, or her milk isn’t good enough. Mums can also be told that babies should not be breastfed to sleep. (Babies are biologically programmed to fall asleep at the breast – this is TRUE!)

Remember there are many Myths out there. The best defence against mythology is to find out the real story. Check out our References & Useful Links, or get in touch with a breastfeeding group facilitator or peer supporter.

Money (saving some)

You’ll see lots of information that says Breastfeeding/Breastmilk is free. Well, it’s free in the sense that you don’t need to buy bottles, teats, sterilising equipment and formula milk (that really does save you lots of $$$$$. Estimates of savings are $1,200 per year or more) but it’s not completely free because you – the parents – have made a commitment to breastfeeding (See the letter I for Investment and the letter H for Health) that may involve the mother staying away from the paid workforce a little longer. So it’s more like an Investment that saves your whānau Money in the short and long run in terms of health and wellness, and it does reduces your need for feeding ‘equipment’ – and that saves Money too. (See the letter P for Pumps)

Milk (getting enough)

Breastmilk, as in babies getting enough. Only a very tiny percentage of women have some problems making enough Milk, but a whole lot more women think they have low milk supplies because of other people suggesting this, and because babies often feed more frequently than parents expect. (See the letter G for Growth Spurts and the letter F for Frequency of Breastfeeds)

Medication and breastfeeding

Mums sometimes get sick and start taking Medication. In most cases this will not affect breastfeeding, so it’s safe to keep breastfeeding on most Medications. Unfortunately many mums get told to stop breastfeeding when they really don’t need to. Ask your midwife or well child nurse to provide you with more information. You can also contact the CanBreastFeed health promoters/advocates and get information from them.

Night-time breastfeeds

Night-time breastfeeds are Normal and you can expect babies to wake for feeds whether they are breast or bottle-fed. Research does show that it saves time when you breastfeed – and that means less time awake in the middle of the Night. Keep your baby in the same room and close to you at Night to make Night-time feeds easier to manage. (See the letter S for Sleep) Remember the breast is ‘ready to go’ – right temperature and right there when you need it.

Nappies (what's in them!)

Breastfed babies have different looking/smelling Nappies to formula-fed babies, so expect loose yellow poos from about day three after birth onwards.

Babies all start off with the dark green/black poos called meconium after birth, but with milk feeds, the poos start to change around day three to lighter green and then yellow (Some babies have yellow poos on day two after birth). Breastfed babies will have poos in all ranges of yellow and you can expect quite a few Nappies with poos in each day right up until six weeks of age. Breastfed babies never get constipated but sometimes after about six weeks they can go for quite a few days without a bowel motion.

If you’re worried about what’s in the Nappy, talk to your midwife (if before six weeks) or your well child health nurse (after six weeks).

Wet Nappies

After the first day your breastfed baby will have around four wet Nappies a day but then should have six wet Nappies (or more) every day. Good output is generally a really good sign of a good intake of milk. Check out this link for more information about output.

Another thing about Nappies – it’s really helpful for breastfeeding mums if someone changes the baby and takes the baby to mum for breastfeeding, particularly in the early weeks after birth.

Oxytocin (the love hormone)

The hormone of love. This hormone makes everyone feel good. Mums get an Outpouring of Oxytocin hormone while breastfeeding (it makes the breasts ‘let-down’ the milk, makes the womb contract to lessen bleeding after birth and helps loving relationships to develop). Dads, partners and significant Others will also get a lovely rush of Oxytocin when close to the baby – particularly with skin-to-skin contact.

Practice (establishing breastfeeding)

Yes, it takes Practice to establish breastfeeding for baby and for mum. It can take up to six weeks to establish breastfeeding. The first few days are about initiating breastfeeding, and then comes the work to establish breastfeeding. Sometimes babies need a bit more time than you both get in hospital after birth to sort themselves out with feeding. If you need to find extra support and information ask your midwife, and you can also check out our Support services section to find out where you can go for that extra help. (See the letter S for Support)

Preparation (finding out about breastfeeding)

Learn about breastfeeding and how breasts and breastfeeding work before the birth of the baby— attend a class if you can (See the Support Services section), or read some information about breastfeeding on one of our recommended website links.

Patience (recovering and learning)

It takes time to recover from birth, to learn to breastfeed and to adjust to parenting. Be kind to each other and Patient (See S for Sex).

Pain (getting it sorted)

Breastfeeding shouldn’t be Painful but sometimes there is brief nipple tenderness on latching for the first ten days or so, and if the baby has not been latching at the breast correctly nipples can become damaged and more Painful.

Fathers, partners and whānau do not wish to see mums in Pain or to see them upset. That’s why sometimes it’s tempting to suggest to the mum that she should stop breastfeeding and turn to the bottle. Most women really do want to succeed at breastfeeding though and it’s really important to them, so support, reassurance and love is needed at these tricky times. You could suggest mum attends a breastfeeding group, or gets in touch with a breastfeeding Peer counsellor for that extra support from mums who’ve been through some challenges themselves. See the Support services section.

Peer support (really helpful)

Breastfeeding Peer Supporters can be found at almost all the breastfeeding groups listed in our Support section.

Breastfeeding Peer Supporters or Counsellors are mothers of all ages and ethnicities who have recently breastfed a baby, or babies, and who are keen to support other mums just like them. They have taken part in an eight week course to learn more about breastfeeding and basic counselling, and they are available to support all mothers in Canterbury.

Prolactin (the milk hormone)

Ah, one of the wonderful hormones of breastfeeding. Feeling more relaxed? (See the letter H for Hormones) In the early days after birth, each time the baby stimulates the nipple via sucking or touch, there is a fast increase in Prolactin secretion. Prolactin levels are also higher at night so night-time feeding is important.

Pumps (if you need one)

Breast Pumps. Well, here’s the thing – most women do not need to use a breast Pump. We didn’t do a letter M for Marketing but that’s what it’s about. Clever marketing of breastfeeding paraphernalia that most women don’t need.

Pumps can be useful in some situations (If the breastfeeding mum really does need a Pump, make sure you find out the names of the Pumps that actually work from your midwife, well child nurse, or breastfeeding peer supporter because, believe it or not, a lot of the Pumps on the market are not very effective). Using Pumps that are not effective in removing enough milk can lead to a drop in milk supply.

Here are some reasons why a breast Pump may be necessary – if mother and baby are going to be separated and breastfeeding is not possible, if mum or baby have a breastfeeding challenge that makes direct breastfeeding not possible, or the issue reduces the number of breastfeeds for a while, and if mum has a low milk supply for some reason and needs to boost her supply (more milk out = more milk made).

Public breastfeeding (managing breastfeeding when out and about)

Or breastfeeding outside of the home. Have you thought about how your Partner will manage this? Some men do not feel comfortable with the idea of their partner exposing her breasts for breastfeeding in a Public area, so it’s something that you both need to talk about before you venture out of the door.

Just to reassure you, if you are really worried about this, breastfeeding can be managed easily without anyone noticing, apart from you and the mum. (Well, the baby will know too of course!) If the breastfeeding mum is anxious she can also use a scarf, or find a top that covers her breast. Many places are now welcoming to breastfeeding mums, which is how it should be. Check out our Out & About section. (See the letter W for Welcome and the letter G for Going out)

Quality (breastmilk)

Breastmilk is always a Quality product, served with lashings of love and giving your baby everything she/he needs for the first six months.

Questions? (where to find more answers)

You’ve probably got a lot more than we can answer on this page so check out our References & Useful Links for some commercial-free, evidence based information to help you on your breastfeeding journey.

Quick (the milk let-down)

The milk let-down reflex (See the letter O for Oxytocin) is usually pretty Quick but stress, pain and worry can make it a little slower. Dads, partners, whānau and friends can help reduce stress by supporting the breastfeeding mum.

Things that help the let-down of milk include shoulder massages, gentle breast massage and nipple stimulation, skin-to-skin contact with the baby (mum being in a warm bath with the baby can be very relaxing) deep relaxing breathing, a snack or a cup of tea, or relaxing music.

Reassurance (building confidence)

What all new mums need while they are learning to breastfeed. Dads, partners, whānau and friends can provide Reassurance and support to help build up mum’s confidence.

Rooming in (in maternity)

Rooming in with the baby in the maternity hospital helps get breastfeeding off to a good start. If you’ve birthed your baby at home you’ll already be ‘Rooming-in’ with the baby close by, but now all the New Zealand maternity facilities are keeping mums and babies together as well. It’s part of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative which is designed to be friendly to all mothers and babies, and to help support breastfeeding beginnings. Staying close to your baby means that you can start learning about your baby’s cues straight away.

Recovery (sleeping)

It takes a while to Recover from birth and you will all be tired, so try and sleep when you can. When the baby sleeps, encourage mum to take a nap too.

Some parents take it in turns to have an extra sleep while one parent looks after the baby for a couple of hours. Work out what will work for you as a family. (See the letter S for sleep)

Removing breastmilk from the breast

Removing the breastmilk from the breast is very important for establishing mum’s milk supply so it’s important to Respond to the baby’s feeding cues and make sure the baby is latched on the breast correctly. (See the letter L for Latch)

Roles (everyone has one)

All members of the family/whānau have a Role to play in supporting the breastfeeding mum and the new family.

If you’ve breastfed a baby yourself you may have some tips to pass on to the new mum but remember that it’s still important to listen to what the breastfeeding mum is saying, give information but hold back on the prescriptive advice. Telling mums or new parents what to do can undermine their confidence, so try and suggest a Range of options that may help the situation rather than suggesting the parents ‘should’ do something.

Red flags (getting help)

Sometimes breastfeeding gets off to a difficult start and baby and mum have some challenges in getting breastfeeding initiated and established. Some things that parents need to keep an eye on, and seek support about from their midwife or well child nurse, are when babies are not waking on their own to breastfeed, their output is low (wees and poos), and they are not gaining weight, or are losing weight.

If the mum has persistent pain with breastfeeding, or if she is feeling unwell or sad, it’s good to talk about that too with your midwife or well child nurse. (See the letter S for Sore Nipples)

Skin to Skin (with the baby)

Skin-to-Skin is a wonderful thing to do. Talk to your partner before birth time comes around and read about all the amazing benefits it brings. It calms babies after birth, puts them in the best place to start thinking about the first breastfeed, and starts the process of birth recovery for mum and baby.

Skin-to-Skin can be part of your birth plan. Skin-to-Skin keeps your baby warm and Snuggly so there are no worries about temperature. Fathers and partners can also have some Skin-to-Skin time too. If the baby does not breastfeed within the first hour – don’t panic – just keep Supporting and encouraging Mother-Baby Skin-to-Skin for as long as you can – if mum and baby are transferring to another maternity unit you can start Skin-to-Skin after you all settle into the new postnatal room, or after mum and baby have had a Sleep. Talk to your midwife about Skin-to-Skin. Check out this link as well for more information.

Scent (of the mother and breastmilk)

The Smell of breastmilk is a trigger for a Sleepy baby to wake up for a feed, and it can also Soothe a distressed baby as well. The breast also Secretes pheromones and this Mother-Smellscape (like a landscape but about a range of scents) not only activates appetite and soothes crying, but it can Stimulate the baby to open her/his eyes as well. So Sleepy babies wake for feeds better when in close contact with mum.

Sore nipples (latching is important)

(See the letter P for Pain). Ongoing nipple pain that lasts longer than the initial baby latch on to the breast, or when that brief nipple tenderness continues for longer than ten days or so, is usually caused by the baby not latching so well.

Baby needs to open her/his mouth wide to latch on properly and be close to the mum, tummy to tummy. Support the breastfeeding mum to seek support for breastfeeding if she needs a bit more help. Check out this short video about the baby latching at the breast

Support (encouragement and good information)

That important Seven letter word again! Tell the breastfeeding mother how well she is doing. Many new mums do go through a bit of a rough patch while establishing breastfeeding, but encouragement, good support and good information really helps them get through. Check out this Ministry of Health link for a short video and more information.

Sex (breastfeeding and intimacy)

That important three letter word! (See the letter P for Patience). Firstly, mum is recovering from the birth, she will be tired from lack of sleep, and there may also be some pain associated with the birth to recover from too. Breastfeeding mums may feel like they are breastfeeding a lot and this can make them feel ‘touched out’ and their breasts may also feel full of milk and sometimes sore. Vaginal dryness is also common while breastfeeding and this can make Sex painful and not very desirable.

There are other ways to be intimate apart from penetration so trying other styles of love-making is a good idea for a while. Lubrication can help with that vaginal dryness when you are both ready. Another thing that new mums and partners may not be expecting is milk leaking from mum’s breasts during love-making. Leaking breasts, particularly during orgasm, is also very normal and doesn’t mean there is anything wrong (keep a towel handy). The Baby-Blues or Post-Natal Depression can also affect mood, energy levels and Sex drive, so if you think your partner has some Signs of depression make sure you find some help. Talk to the midwife, well child nurse or GP.

Sleep (what to expect)

That important Six letter word! Babies need feeding frequently and go through growth spurts too (see the letter G for Growth Spurts).

New parents are tired and often try and get their baby into a routine very early, or they expect babies to Sleep through the night too when they are really not developmentally ready to do this.

The Infant Sleep Information Source website is full of helpful Sleep information for parents, and there’s also an app you can download.

Superfood (nutrition plus)

That’s breastmilk – the first Superfood that’s so much more than a food. Optimal nutrition is only half the Story. (See I for Infection fighting breastmilk and Immune System)

Six habits of highly effective breastfeeders

  1. Go with the flow
  2. Respond to the baby’s cues
  3. Wear the baby
  4. Stay close to the baby at night
  5. Don’t watch the clock
  6. Find a tribe – that means check out breastfeeding friends, breastfeeding groups and peer supporters (See our Support section). It helps to spend time with other breastfeeding mums and hearing about shared breastfeeding experiences can be very helpful.

Telephone help (keep your links handy)

Have a list of all your key support people and links handy so that you can contact those important people when you need to. Family and friends of course, but also the La Leche League 24 hour breastfeeding help line (03) 3388 447, your midwife, well-child nurse, breastfeeding support people, breastfeeding peer supporters and groups near your home, and your GP Practice. (See our References & Useful Links)

Talking (and listening)

Parents need to keep Talking to each other. No matter how tired you are it’s important to Talk. Caring for a new baby can be overwhelming and your regular household activities take longer with a baby in the house. Supporting each other is essential – tell your partner how you’re feeling and be ready to listen too.

Some kinds of Talking can be a bit one-sided, so if you’re a visitor in the new parent’s home try and avoid too many stories about your parenting experiences and avoid giving too much advice about parenting and breastfeeding too. It can be really confusing to be given all that different advice and parents sometimes start to worry about their abilities to parent, and start to think they’re doing everything wrong. Reassuring Talk that builds parents’ confidence is great.

Taste (of breastmilk)

Breastmilk can change depending on the mum’s diet. Babies love the Taste of mum’s breastmilk and Vanilla, Garlic and Carrot flavours have been identified.

There is some research that suggests breastfed babies get used to different flavours through their breastmilk and this makes it easier for them to accept new flavours when they start having other foods at six months. (See the letter C for Changing Breastmilk)

Did you know that amniotic fluid also has a Taste profile similar to breastmilk?! Mum’s diet affects the smell and Taste of her amniotic fluid too, so the baby is very quickly attracted to breastmilk after birth.

Understanding (adjustment and changes)

Understanding the changes that have happened in your lives is important. Adjustment to becoming parents takes time. Understanding how breastfeeding works is important too. Babies feed frequently and that means twelve times in twenty-four hours (or sometimes more) is not unusual.

All support people should know that frequent feeding is normal (See the letter F for Frequency of Breastfeeds), that the baby can’t be spoiled by having cuddles and contact, that it’s recommended that babies are fed only breastmilk for the first six months, and that after the introduction of appropriate other foods breastfeeding continuation up to one year or beyond is optimal. (The New Zealand Ministry of Health suggest one year and beyond while the World Health Organisation suggest two years and beyond – the WHO recommendation ‘fits’ in well with the time it takes for optimal immune system development which is two years)

Vaccination (breastfeeding is the 1st)

Breastfeeding is the first Vaccination a baby gets. The early milk colostrum is chock full of very important antibodies to protect the baby and all breastmilk always has living cells and antibodies present. Colostrum and breastmilk in the baby’s gut also helps to set up a healthy digestive system with helpful bacteria – the microbiome. Check out this animated video for more information about the microbiome

Learn more about the immune system of human milk here, and here.

Watch the baby (not the clock)

Watch the baby and not the clock. Learn about your baby’s feeding cues and when you see them you can take the baby to mum for a breastfeed, change the baby’s nappy before feeding, and make sure mum has a glass of water to drink while feeding.

Waste (the shortest food mile)

There isn’t any with breastfeeding!

Work (paid) and breastfeeding

Paid Parental Leave is a great support for parents after they have had a baby. Check out the details about what you are entitled to in our Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces section. When the breastfeeding mum returns to the paid Workforce, or starts work, there are ways to keep breastfeeding going. Information about this can be found in our Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces section and an advocate is available to support mums who have questions or need support.

Welcome ('Breastfeeding Welcome Here')

‘Breastfeeding is Welcome’ here (See the letter P for Public) is a sign you may see in cafes around and about Canterbury. If a café is displaying this sign it means it’s a friendly place to be for a breastfeeding mum and her supporters. Check out the breastfeeding friendly places on this website. If you have a great experience in a café not listed we want to hear from you so we can give the venue a Welcome sign and say thanks for being a great support to mums! We’d like the list to keep on growing and the unfriendly places to disappear!

Xtra special (breastfeeding)

That’s breastfeeding and the support the mum gets from dads, partners, whānau and friends.

Learn more about the immune system of human milk here, and here.

Your Breastfeeding Rights

It’s a human right to breastfeed and mums can breastfeed anywhere they are allowed to be. Fathers, partners, whānau and friends can support mothers by making sure they know about their rights. Check out the information from the Human Rights Commission here.

Check out our section about breastfeeding friendly spaces and if the mum is planning to continue breastfeeding when returning to the paid workforce check out the Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Initiative section to learn more about how to manage this and how to contact an advocate if support or more information is needed.

Zzzzz

Zzzzz is for sleeping. You get more zzzzzzzz in the night if you breastfeed and keep the baby close by.