This post is not a debate about formula/breastfeeding. This is a post about my journey and as it happens my journey has been a breastfeeding one which is why I am writing about what I know. I simply want those choosing to breastfeed to know some of the things I didn’t. Not to put them off, The opposite in fact, to make them aware of the challenges so you know you’re not alone and the challenges will pass.
Firstly – it’s hard!! Loose any images you may have of sitting on a lily pad with your hair gently blowing in the wind as you nurse your babe. These days I’m covered in milk while Jasmine feeds and tries to pull clumps of my hair or gauge my eyes out at the same time.
Let’s start with my story….My midwife asked if I was planning to breastfeed and I remember my line was ‘If I can, but if I can’t I’m not going to beat myself up about it’. Not long after Jasmine was born ‘the golden hour’ a midwife tried to help me feed, Jasmine wouldn’t latch and I thought ‘well I tried’. I remember a midwife sat up with me all night by my side helping me feed her, she was having such issues latching there was talk she had tongue tie.
Eventually she latched a little bit would loose it almost straight away. It was a battle and a frustrating one. If someone had given me a bottle of formula to give her there and then I probably would have, but the midwives were so dedicated to helping me, I felt I owed it to them to persevere.
Some babies can’t latch due to medical reasons but I’m sure this was because it was all brand new to us both. This went on for a few days and finally she started latching….and….ouchhhhhhhhh – cue the toe curling pain. I’ve listed some facts/myths things I wish I knew 10 months ago, I’ve also enlisted the help of other new mums to get their thoughts on breastfeeding in particular things they wish they knew before, not that it would change their preferred feeding method, just to have more knowledge to avoid the ‘I’m failing’ feeling…
If you start breastfeeding and you’re in pain – that’s normal, mine felt like every feed was agony but nipple shields and creams will help you! Not to mention the pain when your milk comes in, it’s how I imagine Lara Croft feels all the time – they’re rock hard. Warm showers, cabbage leaves and feed, feed, feeeeeeed.
All you can eat buffet
And let’s talk about cluster feeding. Newborns feed ALL the time. They are regulating your supply and will be thriving (providing they are not drastically loosing weight.) The mistake some breastfeeding mums make is when their baby cluster feeds they think they’re not getting enough, so top them up with formula, they then sleep longer but mums supply will drop so baby feeds more….it’s a vicious circle. Trust your body and your baby they will be getting enough. Mums are often misadvised that they shouldn’t be feeding as much or baby isn’t getting enough. I perfectly normal for them to be attached to you, get comfy!
Inflammation of the breast tissue often caused by clogged milk ducts, it can also come with fever and it hurts! But there is relief – icepacks, supplements (vitamin c, echinacea, bee propolis, garlic) feed, feed, feed, massage, paracetamol for fever, drink lots of water. It’s one of the top reasons why women stop breastfeeding so it’s important to have knowledge about it and how to help.
Stock up on breast-pads
They sell reusable breast-pads so cheap now it’s worth getting some and washing them as trust me you’ll need a lot!
Pour the wine
Unlike pregnancy, It’s a myth that you can’t drink alcohol whilst breastfeeding a glass of wine is the equivalent of a shot of alcohol in the ocean to the baby so they are quite safe. I’ve researched a lot and medical professionals agree it won’t affect the baby. Personally I’d never have more than a couple as I’d always want to feel in control, it’s also advised not to co sleep in the same bed as baby after any alcohol.
Dairy free Doctors orders
Jasmine went through some digestive issues which resulted in me going dairy free for a few weeks, for Jasmine it turned out she wasn’t dairy intolerant but it’s normally the first thing doctors advise you to cut out. Eventually she grew out of it.
I found this concept pretty weird before Jasmine but it’s great to have a stash of expressed milk in the freezer and it can last up to 6 months.
To this day as soon as she starts feeding my mouth feels drier than the Sahara desert – totally normal just keep water close!
Express and bottle feed
I always had some bottles in, if I’m honest I always had pre made formula in (just in case). It’s nice to have someone’s else feed them.
It’s hard when she’s so tiny and every time she fussed Dave or who ever was holding her would say ‘she’s hungry’ whilst passing her back to me, I would struggle knowing I was the only one feeding her. It felt like a lot or pressure and I also started to feel like a cow. This certainly gets easier though and it’s actually quite a nice feeling after a while knowing I’m providing for her.
Find your feeding spots
I’m still not confident feeding in public (to be honest now Jasmine gets too distracted). The city is full of baby change/feeding places I would use them as my safe zone when I was out and about.
These are by no means to put people off but to encourage those planning to breastfeed. Each of these reasons were reasons I almost finished by breastfeeding journey and I wish I was aware of them at the time instead of feeling like I was failing. Most people experience these.
Make sure you talk about it if you do and it’s always best to be prepared. For me, I’m glad I pushed through as it’s so much easier now and I feel proud of my 9 months of breastfeeding.