Breastfeeding, babies and boobs: What's normal?

Your newborn feeds up to 20 times a day? The only sleep you’re getting is in one-hour increments overnight? Your baby fusses and cries in the evenings even after she’s been on and off the boob for hours? The only way your baby will fall asleep is on the breast or in your arms? Normal, normal, normal and yep, normal.

Coping with a new little person in your life often comes as a shock to many first-time parents and it all comes down to expectation. Heaps of pregnant women focus on learning about how they’re going to manage to squeeze that baby out, but even though it’s daunting, it’s a process that only lasts a matter of hours (days if you’re unlucky like me). On the other hand, learning how to breastfeed can take weeks or months to perfect. If you come from a breastfeeding family, your chances of incidental learning are much higher, but sadly, I’ve heard stacks of women say that they’ve never actually seen a baby being breastfed up close (or at all!) until they fed their own. Let’s change that.

Educating yourself (and your partner) about breastfeeding when you are pregnant really does work and ups your chances of breastfeeding success. Some antenatal classes cover breastfeeding, but for a more intensive run-through by qualified breastfeeding educators who have breastfed their own kids, and to make sure you are aware of your local support networks (one of the crux issues when you first pop your baby out) the Australian Breastfeeding Association runs breastfeeding education classes in all states. Most of them will have a demo mum and baby there so you can see how it all works up close and personal — mums I’ve spoken to tell me that’s the highlight of the day. The right books, ones with accurate, up-to-date breastfeeding info, can boost your knowledge too. The ABA’s Breastfeeding … naturally comes with your membership — that’s a bit of a boobie bible if ever I read one, and for super keen book worms, mothersdirect.com.au sell a selection of other breastfeeding-friendly titles if you love a bit of point and click shopping (and members get a discount!).

Somehow if you know your baby will turn into a feeding machine after that initial sleepy, just-born period; that there’s nothing wrong if your bubs still screams even though he’s been fed and changed; that babies do something called ‘cluster feeding’ in the early evenings, which makes your boobs feel emptier, but means your little darling is getting the fattier milk that helps him or her sleep longer; or that no matter what your auntie or neighbour tells you, you really really can’t spoil a newborn by feeding and rocking them into a peaceful slumber, then you know you are doing all you can, and that’s all a new mummy can ask for.

For more information on the ABA’s breastfeeding education classes, visithttp://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/products/happen.html. For a PDF of a breastfeeding plan to give your caregivers before you have your baby: http://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/bfplan.html

You may also like to read articles on ‘Why is my baby crying’http://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/whycry.html

and ‘the arsenic hour’

http://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/fussy.html

This entry originally appeared on the Kora Organics website on Feb. 21, 2011