Our timeline for breastfeeding really begins when we are young. Our exposure to breastfeeding within our family, our community and in the media influences what we think and feel about breastfeeding.
But for many women, it's not until you are pregnant that you really start to think about breastfeeding.
Here's an idea of what a pregnant mum, and her partner, can do and expect during pregnancy, through to the arrival of baby and beyond.
Before the birth of your baby
- Prepare your own personal Breastfeeding Plan
- Find an ABA Breastfeeding Education Class. If there isn't one happening in your area, or when you need it, contact your local hospital or your health professional.
- Join the Australian Breastfeeding Association. Your 12-month membership includes a copy of the Association's book called Breastfeeding … naturally (valued at $34.95) as well as a quarterly magazine called Essence. More information about membership can be found here
- Go to your local ABA get-together to meet local mums and mums-to-be.
- Watch and talk to other breastfeeding mums.
- Talk to your partner about how important breastfeeding is. Ask him or her to attend a Breastfeeding Education Class with you.
- Speak to your employer about a return to work policy that supports breastfeeding employees. The Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace site has lots of useful information.
After the birth
- Request skin-to-skin contact with your baby as soon as possible after birth. If separation is needed, ask that your baby has skin-to-skin contact with your partner.
- Nipple sensitivity is common early on. Pain is NOT. Seek skilled help early to prevent damage to your nipples. Lactation consultants and Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellors have those skills.
- Day 1: baby will have a small amount of colostrum (the early, yellow/gold milk) each feed, at least 1 wet nappy and sticky black poo.
- Day 2: baby will continue to get small amounts of colostrum at each feed, at least 2 wet nappies and less sticky green-black poo.
- Day 3: breastmilk is starting to increase, at least 3 wet nappies and poos are becoming greenish-brown and softer.
- Day 4: at least 4 wet nappies and poos becoming a lighter green-brown or may have changed to a mustard-yellow and can be 'seedy' or watery.
- Day 5 onward: breastmilk supply increasing, at least 6 heavy wet cloth nappies (or 5 heavy wet disposable nappies) with pale urine, and poo mostly mustard-yellow, soft or liquid at least 3 times every 24 hours. Babies older than 6 weeks may have fewer poos.
- Expect to spend lots of time sitting down, feeding your baby!! It is common for young babies to feed 8-12 times or more in 24 hours. You and your baby are working hard to get the right amount of milk happening!
- It can take 6-8 weeks for the breastfeeding 'dance' between mum and baby to find its rhythm. Each baby/mother pair is unique with different patterns, so try not to compare yourself or your baby to others.
- There are usually lots of questions, from both parents, so your breastfeeding support network is very important at this time. ABA is recognised internationally as a source of breastfeeding information and support, so call us on our national toll-free Breastfeeding Helpline number on 1800 686 268 any time. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Further breastfeeding information, forums and are also easily accessed on our website. We also offer email counselling to our members. See the full range of benefits you get with ABA membership.
- Accept all offers of help from friends and family - you deserve it!
- Go to your local Australian Breastfeeding Association get-togethers where you will meet mums with babies of the same age, with similar questions and experiences.
- Going out with your breastfed baby is easy. You have baby's food ready to go, at the right temperature, in sustainable and attractive packaging (!) any time.
- Have your nappy bag packed ready at the door - nappies, wipes, perhaps a baby sling and a change of clothes are really all you need.
- If bub is hungry while you are out, feel free to breastfed him/her anywhere you and your baby are legally able to be. Be proud of what you and your baby can do.
- Don't hesitate to contact an ABA breastfeeding counsellor by phone or email if you have any questions.
- Consult Breastfeeding … naturally or the articles on the Breastfeeding Information section of the ABA website.
As time goes on
- From around 6 weeks, many mums find they have lost that 'full' feeling in their breasts and start to question whether they have enough milk. What is actually happening is that your milk supply is starting to match the needs of your baby - clever you!
- If you are concerned about your baby's weight gain, check this information on how to tell if your baby is getting enough milk. If you have any questions, large or small, don't hesitate to contact our trained volunteer counsellors on the Breastfeeding Helpline, or your health professional.
- Family foods can be introduced at around 6 months. The World Health Organization recommends that babies continue to receive breastmilk for 2 years, or more, as long as mother and child wish.
- Returning to work - explore childcare options that are going to be compatible with your family needs and supportive of caring for a breastfed baby. There are some excellent resources available about returning to work on this part of our website and on the Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace website.
- Celebrate your baby's many milestones, small and large. Above all, love your baby and enjoy your time with them!!
© Australian Breastfeeding Association Reviewed October 2016