Breastfeeding tips from lactation consultant, Marieke van Luin

Updated: Aug 19


Marieke van Luin has been a midwife for 20 years, a co-owner of a midwifery practice in Amsterdam for 12.5 years, and a midwifery health teacher for 15 years. 


In 2010, she sold her part of the midwifery practice in Amsterdam, to focus on expanding her skills and knowledge to assist women, and enrich her work.  Since then she has become a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) and studied several counselling approaches (coaching, mindfulness, NLP, EMDR).


Just as important as her work, is her beautiful family - including her two children who are quickly becoming teenagers! In 2012, Marieke lived in Melbourne, Australia for a period of time where she worked and learned amongst inspiring colleagues.


Marieke has put together a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions she hears from Moms-to-be and new Moms, including helpful online resources, when it comes to breastfeeding a new baby. 


In general:

Mums, please keep in mind that raising a child takes a village. Or actually, you simply just need more hands than you have on your own. For 150,000 years we were raising children together, with aunts, other siblings and neighbours carrying each other's kids around and even feeding them. Only the last 50-80 years have put Mums in a position where they are trying to do everything on their own and often feel alone and failing. Wake up Mums! Embrace yourselves, reach out and accept the fact that we are programmed to do it together, not all by yourself. Even in Corona times, we are out there to support you. Most Lactation consultants offer virtual sessions and in the Netherlands (and other countries) home visits for professional support are offered again and organised to meet necessary hygiene precautions and be ‘Corona proof’. Ask for support sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until your heart cries out. We’re there for you! 


*Looking for Dutch Lactation Counselors IBCLC? Use this site to search: https://www.nvlborstvoeding.nl/locaties/


Frequently asked questions: 

1. Breastfeeding my child is (still) painful, is that normal?

Breastfeeding/latching your baby can be sensitive, because nipples áre sensitive. But they are sensitive in order to tell you what's good and what isn’t. Feeding your child should not be so uncomfortable that you are not looking forward to feeding your child anymore or rather avoid it all together. Nature is better organised than that. Always try to make a change when latching feels uncomfortable. Most often, pain is caused by too-shallow latching. It might need time: your baby's mouth may need to grow to cover a bigger part of the areola. You can use the creativity of your fingers to provide a bigger mouth full, and look for the most comfortable position for the both of you. Inverted nipples can cause more sensitivity, just like other causes as a restrictive tongue tie. If sensitivity continues to be causing problems, ask for support.


Good info resources to improve the latch: Sandwich/asymmetrical Latch.

Also: https://firstdroplets.com/ and  https://www.kidshealth.org.nz/good-latch-key-successful-breastfeeding


2. My baby wants to feed more frequently, how can we find a schedule?

Babies need their parents to feed and sleep safely. From a baby's view, it’s most safe to be in their parent’s arms or close to them. Searching for a breast or crying is most often answered by picking up. So a baby might be asking for other things than a feed when searching or suckling. The stomach of a baby is, at maximum size, only as big as an egg. So their natural rhythm is directed by regular small meals to keep blood sugar levels and sleep cycles stabilised. Frequent feeding is therefore natural behaviour, if growth is established and the baby has regular poos and pees. If you want to feed more efficiently, look for the moments after a deeper sleep. Feed your baby after a sleep. Before your baby goes back to sleep, or if your baby has cramps, you can offer a bit more from an emptier breast, just to offer some extra love and a feeling of safety. That’s perfectly normal for a baby to crave this. After a longer sleep during nights (4-5 hrs), they often catch up in the morning before taking longer breaks again. Also the end of the day is often a bit more irregular. These fussy hours are mostly caused by processing the day (lots of triggers and impressions etc.), being tired and wanting to be held to ensure being safe. Often babies let go and sleep more peacefully when being held enough.


Read more about normal baby sleep, safe co-sleeping and how to improve sleep: https://www.basisonline.org.uk/


3. I’ll want to breastfeed my twins, can I produce enough milk for both of them?

Yes of course you can, you’ve got two breasts :), and more than enough talents to produce enough milk. There are several reasons to have low milk supply, but having twins specifically is not one of them. In general, more demand (two or even triplet babies) provides more milk. But… it might need more time and effort than you expect. Twin babies are most often born earlier, so need time to mature and grow bigger in energy and mouth size (to cover the areola and not just the nipple). Your milk helps them to grow and protects them with the antibodies they need. In the hospital, you can almost always ask for breastfeeding support from the hospital lactation counselor. Prenatally you can ask them for a personalised plan. I would advise you to start collecting colostrum prenatally already, to increase your hand expressing skills and to ensure the first feeds post-birth to be your rich mother's milk. Also, I would recommend to start feeding one child at the time per feed, so to get to know them each bit by bit and managing positioning with one child is most often a challenge on its own, so slowly work up to tandem feeding once you feel comfortable. Take your time and organize and ask for support! Extra babies ask for extra hands on!


Great info source La Leche League on twins: https://www.laleche.org.uk/twins/


4. My baby asks for more frequent feeds with these higher temperatures, is that normal?

Yes, babies can be thirsty! The convenience of breastfeeding is that you can always provide a sip. But if you have a talent for oversupply or if you have painful nipples, and if the baby is older than 6 weeks and growing well, there is no harm in pouring a bit of (clean) water on a teaspoon instead of feeding at the breast all the time. Of course to keep in mind water must be clean and safe to drink. Please take care of your nipples if the weather is hot. Cracks and thrush and breast infections (mastitis) are around the corner and more difficult to heal. Keep your skin healthy, let it air dry, change pads more often and keep an eye on your breast being emptied well enough. Other tips are to feed in the coolest part of the house, keep out of the sun, don’t go out between 12-3 pm, keep your baby as lightly dressed as possible, and you can even offer a half-warm bath to cool down. And keep yourself hydrated mum!


Info resources: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/you-and-your-breastfed-baby/cool


5. My back and shoulders hurt! Please help me be more comfortable.

Think of the hours you spent together feeding your child in 24 hrs. It’s a lot! And, yes, it can also be resting time for you too mum! Often mothers tell me they have ‘learned’ to feed in two positions. Then I challenge them to discover how creative and comfortable they can be. Really, babies don't mind what position they are in and don't have to be in a line or horizontal, or any specific position you may have been taught. There are no rules when it comes to this… well, except for a few helpful tips! 


I recommend the following process to get comfy: Body (mother) - Baby - Breast

1. Mum, start with yourself, be comfortable. Then: 

2. Place your baby on your body so that it is comfy too. Leaning on their own hands/arms will help to let them feed themselves. And then:

3. Maybe to adjust your breast so that the baby is supported to latch if needed. 


Great examples of Laid Back Breastfeeding, being comfortable and solving issues: https://www.youtube.com/user/NancyMohrbacher


Read the attached PDF (below): 'What could support you in making a good start with breastfeeding', for more tips from Marieke,

Top tips Breastfeeding
.pdf
Download PDF • 241KB

You can learn more about Marieke and her work, or get in touch with her on her website: Mamma Minds


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