Q: I am a first-time mum and don’t produce enough milk for my hungry six-week-old baby boy at night, which makes us both stressed. I want to avoid using formula if possible so the health visitor advised expressing milk with a pump in the mornings – when I have plenty – but I find a manual pump very difficult to use.
A: Many mothers have problems, according to breast-feeding expert and author Clare Byam-Cook. ‘One in three of my clients doesn’t produce enough milk to satisfy their newborn baby. Every woman produces milk at different rates and, for no clear reason, some will simply not produce enough – although keeping properly hydrated, well-nourished and rested certainly helps increase the supply. It’s also important to make sure your baby is properly latched on to your breast.’
Women are often made to feel that they have failed if they don’t solely breast-feed their babies. But, in fact, only one per cent of women follow government recommendations to breast-feed exclusively for the first six months. ‘By six weeks old, 70 per cent of babies in Britain are given bottles,’ says Clare.
In your case, Clare advises using an electric pump. She recommends the award-winning Medela Swing Pump (£129.99, medela.com): ‘It’s good value, easy to set up, painless, and simple to use while watching TV or reading.’ Use it when milk is plentiful – in your case, in the mornings. Electric pumps can also be rented from the NCT , see below.
Manual pumps are cheaper and can work well if the mother has plenty of quick-flowing milk. Try Philips Avent (£28, from Boots and Mothercare). A double pump such as Ameda Lactaline (£129.99, ameda.co.uk) may help mothers who express a lot.
Pumping milk usually increases breast supply. Attach it immediately after having fed for ten minutes on each side.
Good feeding bottles are important. The most successful are those most closely emulating the nipple sucking action. Try Tommee Tippee (£5.29, from Boots) or Medela Calma (£14.99, medela.com).
Formula milk is the best option if mothers can’t produce enough milk to breast-feed or express. ‘A baby is far better being fed this way than going hungry,’ says Clare. She recommends Aptamil First Milk (about £9.49 for 900g, available nationwide).
For further advice, contact the NCT helpline (tel: 0300 330 0700, nct.org.uk) or the breast-feeding helpline nationalbreastfeedinghelpline.org.uk (tel: 0300 100 0212). Your health visitor can give you details of your nearest drop-in breast-feeding clinic. Also read What To Expect When You’re Breast-feeding…And What If You Can’t by Clare Byam-Cook (Vermilion, £8.99).
AN AIRWAY UPGRADE
‘Take a deep breath,’ commanded a colleague recently, wafting a small bottle under my nose, which was bunged up (from hay fever and a cold). The invigorating scents shot straight through my olfactory neurons and I felt my head clear. In fact, Altitude Oil by acupuncturist Annee de Mamiel – with its range of antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic oils (98 per cent organic), including eucalyptus, pine and peppermint – is designed to support your immune system in the germ-friendly confines of a plane. My colleague puts a few drops on a hanky to sniff on her crowded commuter train. It’s the perfect pick-me-up for air-conditioned offices or to refresh a snoozy afternoon. £22, from Victoria Health.
3 OF THE BEST
1. Magnesium Oil Sport Spray
Magnesium is easily absorbed through the skin and a super-effective soother of aches and pains, £12.30 for 100ml. Also available as Original Flakes for the bath, £9.95 for 1kg (enough for three to four baths). From Victoria Health.
2. Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle bath & shower oil, plus gel
With therapeutic lavender, rosemary and ginger essential oils, this is one of my favourite unwinders. De-stress Muscle Kit, £45, aromatherapyassociates.com.
3. Jivamu kti Chin a Gel
This all-natural analgesic for muscle and joint strain contains menthol, camphor, angelica, lavender oil, aloe vera and witch hazel. £18 for 4oz, tel: 020 8960 3999, jivamuktiyogalondon.co.uk.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Yoga to the Rescue: Ageless Beauty As yoga teacher Amy Luwis says, yoga is one of the best ways to ensure a youthful body and mind at any age (practised safely, of course). I feel better just looking at this charming, enlightening book – and a million dollars when I practise the poses. Divided into sections such as Pain, Joy, Serenity and Ageless, Amy’s book gives clear instructions with her own delightful illustrations. Buy several, keep one and give them to your friends. Sterling, £9.99.