Why this podcast?
It’s World Breastfeeding Week – how could I not feature a breastfeeding podcast?
The podcast is actually part of a website called The Breastfeeding Center of Ann Arbor which is a fantastic breastfeeding resource whether you are looking for tips on feeding, looking to take a lactation training or wondering how you are going to manage to breastfeed once you are back at work. There are even links to blogs, youtube videos, apps and lots more. It really is a very comprehensive resource for, well, all things breastfeeding.
The host of the All Things Breastfeeding podcast is Barbara Robertson who also owns The Breastfeeding Centre of Ann Arbor. Barbara’s resume is impressive, to say the least. She has an MA in Curriculum Development in Education, is an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and has over seventeen years experience helping mums and babies resolve breastfeeding issues.
How does it look?
I will be completely honest and say that I have only listened to one episode so far but that I really liked the clear, organised way in which it was presented.
Episodes are released every other week and most seem to be twenty-five to forty-five minutes long. Areas covered so far include working and breastfeeding, nipple pain, tongue tie, breastfeeding and medications, breastfeeding stories, milk supply and nursing strikes.
Why this episode?
Whilst I have written a post about breastfeeding before, I tend to focus on pregnancy and birth related episodes. I figured that an episode about breastfeeding your newborn would be a nice bridge between birth and breastfeeding.
I remember so well that, with my first child, I had so many questions and concerns those first few weeks of our breastfeeding journey and this episode addresses many of those in a really simple, clear and reassuring way.
Who should listen to this episode?
Anyone who is expecting a baby (especially if it is your first) and is planning to breastfeed. I really recommend that both the mother and partner listen as the knowledge on offer here means the partner will be able to reassure the mother while her breastfeeding confidence grows.
This episode features Barbara Robertson and Barb, the podcast’s co-host.
The episode is structured in a question and answer style between the two hosts and they get straight into the subject at hand.
There isn’t a whole lot of chatting, it’s very focused on getting into and answering the listener’s question. I guess whether this is a positive or negative thing will depend on your personal taste.
For me, it worked just fine and I can imagine, that for a new mum with not a whole lot of extra time, a podcast that gets right to the point might be exactly what she is looking for!
A listener with a three-week old baby who breastfeeds a lot has been told by her family that her baby must still be hungry if they are feeding so often.
How, she asks, do I approach this and how do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
I knew at this point that I had chosen the right episode to feature.
When you are still getting to know your baby and getting the hang of feeding, it’s so hard to be confident that they are getting enough milk.
I wish this episode had been around seven years ago, I think it would have really helped me.
Barbara and Barb actually break down their answer into two areas.
How to tell by looking at the baby and how to tell by looking at the mother.
Before they get into that though, they highlight the fact that many family members may well have experience with formula fed babies who tend to feed every three hours and eat pretty much the same amount at each feed.
I was so happy to hear the two Barbara’s underline that it simply doesn’t work this way with breastfed babies.
Babies who are breastfed can feed fourteen times a day or more if they are cluster feeding.
They (like adults are supposed to do) eat small meals frequently. Sometimes they snack in between and sometimes they might get thirsty and want a drink.
This is all perfectly normal and totally ok.
How to tell if your baby is getting enough milk
If you can’t see how much is going in, look at what’s coming out
Checking how many wet and how many dirty nappies your baby produces can be a simple way of telling whether or not they are getting enough milk. The episode goes into detail about how many wet and dirty nappies you should expect but I’ll let you listen to that later.
Is your baby alert?
Newborns tend to sleep……..a lot. However, even newborns should have some time each day where they are alert. Awake. Present.
Babies who are floppy or lethargic could be a cause for concern.
What should a feed look like?
Your baby should be actively breastfeeding with deep chin drops. This is a good indication that they are getting the milk out of your breast and into their tummies.
How long should a feed take?
Babies feed for different lengths of time but Barbara underlines that most will take at least ten to fifteen minutes to finish a breast.
After they are done with one breast, wake them up a little, maybe a nappy change or burping and then offer the other breast. If they’re hungry they’ll go for it.
If not, that’s fine. Either way, just start with the last side at the next feed.
Look at the hands
At the beginning of the feed, your baby will most likely be pretty tense, making tight little fists with their hands. As the feed progresses they will relax more and more and may be in a deep sleep by the end. Even if they are still awake, if they are satisfied, they should be nice and relaxed.
The episode also goes into hunger cues that you can look for in your baby. Hint: crying is a very late hunger cue and it’s better to begin feeding before that point if you can.
Is your baby gaining weight?
Depending on where you live you will most likely have regular appointments to talk to an expert and to check your baby’s weight. Gaining weight is possibly the clearest indicator that your baby is getting enough milk.
Your breast gets softer
As your baby feeds the milk moves out of your breast and the breast will get softer and feel emptier.
Massaging your breast during the feed can help to move the milk out and helps you be aware of any changes in your breast that could need investigating.
The episode continues with a regular piece – ‘Breastfeeding in the News’ but before that, a really important point is made about weight loss.
It’s totally normal for babies to lose a little weight in the first few days and then for their weight to increase again as breastfeeding is established.
If you have had IV fluids during labour, however, some of that fluid can go to your baby and their weight will be higher.
As that fluid leaves their body it can look like they have lost a significant amount of weight whereas, actually, it is just excess fluid. Be aware that sometimes, mothers are pushed into supplementing with or switching to formula because care providers are concerned that this weight loss is due to the baby not getting enough breastmilk.
Last but not least, how do you respond to family asking if you’re “feeding that baby again?”
According to Barbara –
“Just smile and say yes, I am feeding that baby again”
To wrap up
I really encourage all expecting parents who are planning to breastfeed (and maybe also those who are not) to listen to this episode.
We probably all know of the amazing benefits to both mother and baby of breastfeeding but it’s not always so clear that the beginning of that journey is a real learning process.
You are getting to know your baby and learning to trust your instincts at the same time.
Seven years ago, this episode would definitely have given me, as a first-time mum, an invaluable head start.
I would love to hear about your breastfeeding journeys. How did you find those first few days and weeks? What helped you? What didn’t?
Please drop a comment.
Other episodes on this subject
All About Breastfeeding – Early Newborn Breastfeeding
Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.