World Breastfeeding Week is from the 1st to the 7th August so I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you my experience of breastfeeding.
Before I even got pregnant I wondered if I would breastfeed. If I’m honest, the idea didn’t really appeal to me. I’m fairly body concious and just couldn’t see myself doing it. I was very surprised that when I got pregnant my opinion completely changed and it was very important for me to give it my best shot.
Pre – Baby
Before the small one arrived I did some reading and found that the hardest thing was not being able to practice. I’m an organised person, I like to be prepared and cover all eventualities. I found it extremely frustrating that, despite all the knowledge books, the Internet and the NCT classes gave me, until my little man arrived I wouldn’t know whether it would work or not. My advice would be try not to confuse yourself with too much information. One book is enough. If you read loads then they have conflicting information and you just end up more confused! At our NCT class which was specifically for BFing, my husband was worried he’d be left out if he couldn’t feed him. That worried me that he wouldn’t be encouraging if it was hard and I tried to ease his mind that there were other ways to bond with his son that just feeding him. I was worried that if he wasn’t fully on board with the breastfeeding aspect of parenting then, as soon as it got tough, he’d be encouraging me to give it up when I actually needed him to give me strength and encouragement to keep going. I was also worried about the nights as, if I was breastfeeding, it would solely be down to me to be up all the time and my biggest fear about having a baby as a whole was dealing with the lack of sleep!
Post – Baby
I was told repeatedly that the latch was important and it was something that Mini R didn’t get right for a while, causing me to be in quite a bit of pain. Nipple cream was my friend! What many people aren’t told is that it takes time for baby to learn and you do have to stick with it. Support is key and we are lucky enough in Wakefield to have the Little Angels who come to your house and help you get breastfeeding right. You can also go to Families and Babies (FAB) in Wakefield where breastfeeding advice is on hand. I would advise giving it a good few weeks, maybe three, before you give up and do get help and support where you can. I’m not against bottle feeding at all, in fact my son ended up having a bit of formula as well as breast milk (BM), but I do think that some people give up too easily and don’t give it a chance. If you do, you’ll find it to be a wonderful thing! Ironically, once you and baby have cracked it, it’s the best thing ever. I think that the biggest pro for BFing is that one and a) it’s free and two and b) it’s so easy! No faffing around with bottles, formula and making sure it’s the correct temperature etc. As long as you’re wearing the right clothing then it’s simple once you have established a good latch and bubba knows what he/she is doing. Even me, who was terrified of BFing in public, found very discreet ways of doing it so that I felt confident. The only place I wouldn’t feed was at work! If I visited school I made sure he’d just been fed or I took a bottle of expressed milk because there was no way I was getting my boobs out in school and with students around! You hear a lot about not giving your baby a bottle for a while or they can get confused between nipple and bottle, well we introduced a bottle quite early (I’m not sure when exactly) so that I could get some respite and my husband did one feed a night. Mini Me never got confused at all. The only thing we found was that the expressed milk needed warming a lot or he’d spit it out!
My Top Tips for Breastfeeding would be:
- Give it time: three to four weeks after birth, if not longer. I know it’s painful and emotional, especially if your baby is losing weight, but there is no reason why you can’t use a combination of formula and breast and then once breast is established, cut back on the formula.
- Always wear a vest under anything you wear. It makes BFing easier and more discreet. With jeans you can pull your top up and the vest down and under a dress you can pull the vest up and the dress down from the neckline. Don’t bother buying lots of special clothing. It’s really not needed.
- If you baby is struggling to latch because they can’t get a big enough mouthful of boob (like my mini) then “sandwich” your boob. Squish it like a burger and then let go one your baby is latched. Worked like a dream for me and I stopped doing it once bubs got the idea.
- Niipple cream is your best friend! The best is (unfortunately) the most expensive but it does work: lansinoh nipple cream.
- Never feel guilty for whichever feeding decision you make for your baby: happy mum, happy baby is my motto!