Normal Breastfeeding – what is 'normal' anyway?

I’ve written a few posts about breastfeeding and my Instagram is filled with shots too, it is something that I love and I love to talk about.

Me and Ivy had a good start, she was a natural latching superstar, but it hasn’t been without issues either. Sitting at 2am with a boob like a ball and baby struggling to latch causes no end of frustration! Having a painful blocked duct in the early days and knowing the best way to clear it out is feed, feed and feed some more is great, but not being able to touch your breast because of the shock of pain isn’t.

 In the later stages where feeding baby also means you become a play thing, while baby feeds on one breast your other may become a foot rest, and tiny toes might grip on to any material you have there. They begin to look around and as sure as you can be your nipple will be tugged in the direction of the distraction.

 The truth is, it is a wonderful experience – when you finally find what is normal for you. It isn’t always as easy as you think and often having the support and someone to talk to about a bump on your boob, a cracked nipple or latching problems is a much needed helping hand on the way to meeting your breastfeeding expectations and goals.

Normal for us is 1am cuddles and feed even at 4 months, 15 minutes on one boob and 5 on the other and skin to skin in bed. Normal for us is me drinking, eating and chatting while she does the same, normal for us is up to 9 feeds a day and more in the heat (as we recently found out in Italy!).

Normal for us is on the go and in public:

Normal for us on trains, planes and trams: 

I don’t always feed discreetly, sometime I just get on with it and other times I feel like I want a few moments just between me and Ivy. I’m also a firm fan of the breastfeeding selfie. I think it should be celebrated and that is normal for us too. 
Normal is whatever is part of your personal breastfeeding experience. 
Something I really loved about the infographic recently release by Medela is that is displays the difference in each experience and shows that it really is OK to be different when it come to breastfeeding. Some of the numbers on there as fantasticly different! I highly recommend you take a look here: What is the range of ‘normal’?
 If you happened to stop by because you need a helping hand then the following information may be useful – 

The Drop in Clinic’ is run on Facebook every Tuesday: Medela’s Lactation Consultant is on hand to answer any kind of breastfeeding questions. We also run a café on the third Wednesday of every month (also on Facebook) and that’s always great as loads of mums get involved sharing advice, chatting etc and again Sioned is there to answer questions.


Full Release:

New Research Reassures Breastfeeding Mothers.

Every breastfeeding mother will, at some stage, question if she is doing everything ok. Common questions such as, how often do I need to feed my baby or, how do I know if my baby is getting enough milk, will certainly play on their minds. Breastfeeding mothers may also find they compare themselves, wondering why a friend’s baby doesn’t feed as frequently during the
night for example.
These types of questions will be asked by mothers during their breastfeeding experience and may cause anxiety or concern for some.  Now, thanks to new study 1,2 from leading lactation researcher Dr Jacqueline Kent our understanding of breastfeeding is far clearer. Kent’s work has outlined the boundaries for what can be considered ‘normal’ breastfeeding and in doing so has answered these common queries. This is music to the ears of many mothers’ who find themselves questioning their personal breastfeeding experience and asking if it is normal?
Dr Kent’s findings were presented for the first time at Medela’s world leading breastfeeding symposium in Madrid this April and have since been shared far and wide around the world.  Her work confirms that in fact there is no breastfeeding norm, no specific pattern that infants will, or indeed need to adopt, and certainly no set of rules that benchmark the right way to breastfeed.
The new research explains that every breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby is unique and that it will adapt and change throughout the breastfeeding period. The differences may appear extreme, but are natural and not necessarily an indication of insufficient milk supply or other problems.
Kent’s findings highlighted varying breastfeeding patterns between infants, but also showed changes in each baby’s individual experience, sometimes changing monthly. Between one and six months of lactation breastfed infants take fewer, faster, larger feeds, but their total daily milk intake is constant. The significant variability in frequency and volume intake of the healthy, exclusively breastfed infant aged 1 to 6 months is as follows:
·         4-13 – the number of breastfeeding sessions per day
·         12-67 minutes – the duration of a breastfeeding session 
·         54-234 ml – volume of milk consumed in a breastfeeding session
·         478-1356 ml – the volume of milk consumed in a 24 hour period
All of the infants who were monitored as part of the study were considered to be growing normally according to the WHO growth charts. At every age there is a wide range in the number of breastfeeds in a day, but on average the frequency decreases between one and six months, after which it stabilizes. Similarly, there is a wide range in the duration of each breastfeeding session at every age, but on average the duration decreases between one and six months.
This knowledge will undoubtedly provide much-needed evidence to give health professionals confidence in various feeding situations and to give mothers self-assurance in their role. Better knowledge of the variability and expected changes in breastfeeding patterns will also improve mothers’ confidence about their milk supply.
1.       Kent,J.C. et al. Volume and frequency of breastfeeds and fat content of breastmilk throughout the day. Pediatrics 117, e387-e395 (2006).
2.       Kent,J.C. et al. Longitudinal changes in breastfeeding patterns from 1 to 6 months of lactation. Breastfeeding Medicine 8, 401-407 (2013).
About Dr Jacqueline Kent:
Kent started her academic career with a Bachelor of Science at UWA. In 1986 she was appointed as a research assistant at UWA in the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group.  She completed her PhD in 1999 on the calcium in milk and is now working in the group as a Research Assistant Professor.
As part of the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group, Jacqueline researches the biochemistry and physiology of lactation and breastfeeding in babies. The aim of the group is to understand exactly how the process of lactation works, in order to provide an evidence base to improve treatment when medical difficulties arise in breastfeeding mothers, and to encourage more mothers to breastfeed.
Jacqueline has published 36 papers in refereed journals, 7 review papers, and has been invited to present papers to breastfeeding counsellors, midwives and lactation consultants at local, national and international meetings. She is also mother of two breastfed daughters.


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