I never really made the decision to breastfeed, it was more my mum did it, my aunties and cousins all did it so I should as well. As part of my antenatal classes there was a breastfeeding workshop that could be attended so I was very keen to sign up for this. Especially as a guy at work had filled me with fear after his partner had suffered severe cracked nipples due to not knowing that her baby was not latched on properly while feeding. I attended the class around a week before the birth of S and found it very informative. We were shown how to hold baby, what we should and shouldn’t be eating during breastfeeding and were able to ask as many questions as we wanted. I felt pretty confident after the class and ready to take on the task at hand. The part I was not prepared for was the lady that came in to sell us nursing bras after the class.
The Nursing Bra
I had already purchased my bras from M&S and here she was putting the fear of god into us saying that the only bras that should be purchased were the granny bras that she stocked. She continued on to tell us horror stories of new mums who had been cut to pieces with their nursing bras because of underwire. To be fair nursing bras are not the most attractive items of lingerie that you will ever own but the M&S bras are very sensible with no underwire and have some nice patterns and materials to choose from and are all fitted by the trained bra fitting technicians. I went home after the class and decided to keep the bras I had purchased and see how I got on with them. Needless to say they we’re FINE!
Skin to Skin
When your baby is born you are encouraged to do skin to skin with baby to establish an initial bond and encourage baby to latch on naturally to the breast. I had an emergency section with my first so as soon as I went to recovery I tried latching my baby on for the first time. It went well and the midwife was happy with attachment. The first few days you won’t be producing any milk, you produce a liquid called colostrum. Even if baby gets a tiny bit of this it coats their little tummy and has major immune balancing health benefits for your baby.
On my first night in hospital S didn’t really feed much as he was exhausted from days of labour. However, on the second night the feeding was relentless. My nipples were raw! As a new mother no one or no amount of reading can prepare you for what those first few nights alone with baby will be like. Especially when it comes to trying to establish feeding, be it breast or bottle. You yourself are learning and so is your baby. I won’t lie to you, it’s tough. I was up all night the second night feeding as S was trying to stimulate my milk flow. On day 4, when I got home, my milk had started to come in and things got easier from then. I was lucky to not get cracked nipples but I felt I was due some luck on that front with all the troubles we’d had bringing S into the world. I did slather my nipples in nipple cream at every opportunity. One part of breastfeeding I will never get use to is when baby wants to cluster feed. Cluster feeding is when baby will just feed and feed for hours at a time. You’ll finish a feed and then 20 minutes later they’ll want to feed again. You literally do feel like a big cow constantly being milked.
Is breast best?
For me breastfeeding was easy as you have your milk with you all the time, and you’re not having to get out of bed during the night to prepare formula. Although for some woman it does not come so easy. I know some mummies cannot get their milk to follow no matter how hard they try. So my advise is that you just have to do what’s best for you and baby and don’t feel pressure to conform.
I breast fed S for around 8 months. As I was due to return to work, I had to start weaning him off the breast and onto formula as baby still needs breast or formula milk until they are 12 months old. After that they can then progress onto cows milk. I enjoyed feeding but was happy to regain my independence at the end of those 8 months.
Getting S off the breast was difficult and I will talk about that in a later blog, offering help and advise to mummies who are returning to work or just wanting to establish their independence again after solely breastfeeding for months.
Second time round
I’m now breast feeding my second baby and its like riding a bike, once you’ve got it you’ve got it!
Here’s my hot tips for breastfeeding:
Must Do’s/ Have’s:
- Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Cream 40ml
- Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads – 60 Ct– I’ve tried a few brands and these are by far the most absorbent
- Nursing Bras- M&S do a reasonably priced 2 pack so you can have one in the wash while wearing one
- Nursing Tops- baggy top or wear a vest top under a top so you can pull the top up and the vest top down and have baby underneath baggy top without exposing your tummy
- Pillow- you can use your pregnancy pillow
- Good breast pump- best one is Medela Swing Electric Breast Pump with Calma
- Drink lots of water- to stimulate milk flow and you will be THIRSTY as baby is taking all your fluid
- Try to eat at meal times
- Hot Compress- if milk not flowing, this will unblock any blockages
- Feeding scarf for outings- Milkscarf by MamaMoosh in Mink -breastfeeding cover / scarf is a great scarf, it has a hooped top so you can see down to baby and baby had lots of air to breath underneath
Nice to have’s:
- Nipple shields- if you are having latching problem (note- make sure you dry them properly after sterilising as any moisture can create thrush in your baby’s mouth and on your nipple- awch)
- Nursing Chair- I didn’t have one when I breastfed my first child and has come in very handy with baby no.2
- TV remote always at arm’s reach and on the opposite side you are feeding on so you can reach it with your free hand