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A breastfeeding experience – good positioning and partner support

Dominique is an expat living in Sandnes who became a mom here in Norway. In the early weeks of breastfeeding, she asked for advice at the helsestasjon because she was having trouble finding the right position that worked for her and her baby during feeding. She was given a Cozyfix pillow to try out, fell in love with it, and -fast forward- changed her career and is now working for the small Norwegian company that designed and sells that feeding pillow. For this blog she shared her story with me.

Dominique and her partner met in South Africa, where she grew up, and where he was on a surfing trip. They are now living in Sandnes where they became parents of a baby girl about a year ago. She speaks with gratitude about the love and care she received at the midwife center, the hospital and the helsestasjon, but she also mentions that it was sometime hard to become a mother without the close support of family and friends. While we are chatting and drinking coffee, her godmother, who is visiting from South Africa, is taking care of her daughter, and it is obvious to see that all three of them are enjoying this family visit.

During pregnancy Dominique had the intention to breastfeed her baby, but she didn’t put any pressure on herself. She just wanted to try and see if it worked out and had told herself that she would stop if it turned out to be something stressful or problematic. From the information she received during pregnancy, she understood how good it would be for her baby to be breastfed and it was also something she was familiar with from her own upbringing. This was something all women in her family did.

After a healthy pregnancy and a positive birth experience with little medical intervention (and a well appreciated epidural for pain relief), Dominique and her daughter made a smooth start with breastfeeding. Dominique recalls: ‘She had a good latch and I had good milk, and breastfeeding was well established. I just kept struggling with finding a good position.’

Every time Dominque fed her baby, she was using different-sized pillows to try to get and maintain her baby at the right height and angle, which was often difficult to achieve. It was hard to align everything properly and this made the breastfeeding sessions cumbersome for her and resulted in significant neck and back pain.

During a visit to the helsestasjon Dominique mentioned that she wasn’t happy finding the right position for her and her baby. The nurse suggested she could try the Cozyfix nursing pillow that they have available there, and that is what she did. And what a relief! On their way out it was actually Dominque’s partner who told her they were immediately buying that pillow for them to use at home. He had observed his wife’s unsuccessful efforts to get well positioned and had noticed she wasn’t comfortable. When seeing how she was feeding at the helsestasjon with the Cozyfix, he decided straight away that it was exactly that what they needed.

I love to hear the father’s involvement in this story. Partner’s can play an important role in breastfeeding. Research has shown that the partner’s attitude and support toward breastfeeding is a key factor when it comes to a successful start and continuation of breastfeeding. This is one of the reasons I encourage expecting fathers, or the expectant non-pregnant mom, to join the full NatalWisdom course, including the evening where we talk about breastfeeding. This might feel a bit awkward to them on the night itself, but it will pay out later for mom, baby and themselves. For partners it is often challenging to observe their loved one in pain, exhausted, uncomfortable, or insecure when it comes to breastfeeding. This may result in simply suggesting using formula instead, but that is almost never the solution the new breastfeeding mother is hoping to hear. I can imagine Dominque’s partner was super happy that they found a very practical solution to the positioning problem his wife and baby were facing and that he was happy to invest in this pillow.

When it comes to positioning there are a couple of basics to keep in mind:

  • Bring your baby to the breast, instead of bringing your breast towards the baby.

  • Try to relax your neck and shoulders, keep your shoulders low, away from your ears.

  • There are various different positions in which you can breastfeed your baby, and it might work well to vary. Just test out what works best for you and your baby.

  • Positioning your baby with their belly towards your body often works best.

  • Your body needs to recover from pregnancy and birth, and finding a comfortable position during breastfeeding helps the body to rest and relax a bit more, which stimulates this recovery.

  • To be gentle to your pelvic floor, it can be helpful to rest your feet on a little stool.

  • Always seek for help, when you are not feeling happy with how it goes!

  • The above points generally apply to both breastfeeding and bottle feeding.

Once Dominique had the pillow, she always kept it around and would not feed her daughter without it anymore. They even took it with them on their travels and used it as a little bed to have their baby sleep on it in the airplane.

Lastly, I ask Dominique whether she has any advice to other parents, maybe specifically for other expats that are having a baby in Norway. She answers that (expecting) parents shouldn’t be shy to ask for additional support within the health-care system. ‘The way the system is set-up with the fixed appointment schedules during pregnancy and after birth at the helsestasjon, may be a bit intimidating and might give the impression that you can not ask for additional help in between. But you should always contact your midwife, or the nurse appointed to your baby if you have any questions, doubts, or concerns. They are there to help you when needed!’

Dominique was kind enough to give me a Cozyfix feeding pillow, so when you join a NatalWisdom birth preparation course you can try it out if you like when we talk about breastfeeding. And just to be transparent: I am not sponsored by Cozyfix in any other way. Cozyfix is a Norwegian brand designed by Edith Halberg, mother of Maria. She designed the pillow to solve her own breastfeeding positioning challenges as well as those of many other women. Follow Cozyfix on instagram to find out more about their products.






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