One thing I am extremely passionate about is breastfeeding. With my Mum being a midwife, it’s been built into my brain that “breast is best” and I was just determined to do it.
“It is the most natural thing for you and your baby”
I bloody wish. One thing is for sure, breastfeeding is one of the hardest and most demanding things I have ever done. However, if you can make it through, it is also one of the most rewarding and incredible things I think I will ever do. I have learnt so much along the way, that I hope by sharing my experience, I will help some of you and your babies too.
When Seb was born he was extremely lazy when it came to feeding. He would sleep all of the time and I would struggle to keep him awake long enough to feed for even a few minutes. From week 37 during your pregnancy, babies start piling on the pounds to use a fat reserves in the first week that they are in the world. This fat reserve is used while you wait for your fatting milk supply to come through. It is completely normal for babies to loose up to 10% of their birth weight during this time however by day 4, Seb had lost just over 10% of his birth weight and we hadn’t really had any wet nappies. We were referred into the hospital and after a quick doctors check and his bloods analysed, we were sent home with the strict instruction to feed, feed, feed. The only way this would be possible would be for me to express all night back to back and feed Seb with a syringe while I expressed from the other boob. After 8 hours, Seb had the strength to start feeding from a cup which made the whole process a lot quicker! We carried on all through the night.
The next day, the midwife came and checked Seb over again and to our relief he had started regaining his lost weight. I continued to express over the next day and fed him with a cup so we could just check that we was getting enough milk. Soon enough, he was back on the boob and gaining weight every day!
Milk Oversupply (leaking boobs!), Tongue Tie and Sore Boobs!
On day 5, my milk came through. Something they don’t tell you is how awful you will feel when this happens. You suddenly feel like you have the flu, don’t want to get out of bed and just want to sleep! If only your boobs weren’t so needed! After 24 hours, I felt much better however it became transparent that I had a huge oversupply of milk. The midwives told me this would calm down after a few weeks, but I was literally using 3/4 breastpads at any one time and it became pretty akward to be out of the house for longer than a few hours! Dark tops were my saviour and some days I would literally be soaked through down to my jeans…very uncomfortable.
After a few days my nipples were incredibly sore. I would screech in pain every time Seb fed and even the gentle water in the shower was just too much. I was slathering on Lansinoh cream every hour (a must have!) and it seemed to relieved the soreness, but the pain became so bad that I started using Nipple Shields (more on that below!).
Sore nipples are normally a sign that the babies positioning is wrong. I’d gone to several clinics and even had my mum check our position and it seemed normal. The only other reason was that Seb had a tongue tie. After a quick check we could see that his tongue tie was pretty thick and that his tongue was being held back so much, it was heart shaped. We took a trip to the hospital and a midwife made a small cut which helped to release his tongue. He was very good and only had a few tears. Since then, he has been able to stick his tongue out and feeds much better (even if we are still using the shields!).
Feeding Pillow – I have only recently purchased this feeding pillow from eBay and really wish I had it sooner! As your baby gets bigger, it’s a lot harder to support their weight for a long period of time without getting a completely dead arm afterwards! I’d given up surrounding myself with millions of pillows and this is just perfect (and a complete bargain).
Muslins, Muslins, Muslins – Babies are messy when it comes to feeding. There’s no two ways about it, they’re either sick, dribbling or spitting out the milk. I always have at least two muslins on hand at every feed. I use the M&S Muslin Squares.
Lansinoh Cream - The best nipple cream. Ever. Safe for a baby to feed straight after application and is just the only cream that really does work. My advice would be, don’t waste your money on any other nipple cream. You will always end up running back to Lansinoh.
Breastpads – Due to my oversupply of milk, I’ve been going through around 10-20 breastpads a day, so I have really tried them all! For a few pounds, you can pick up a big box of own brand pads which I have to admit are good for a very small amount of leakage. Alternatively, I used two or three at a time for maximum protection, but there really is only one winner for me and that is the Tomee Tippee Disposable Pads. They are ultra absorbent and really do the trick if you have a large supply like me!
Nipple Shields – After days of agony and sore, cracked and bleeding nipples, I finally gave in and used the Medela Nipple Shields. If you are planning on breastfeeding, this is my highest recommendation. They instantly stop any further damage being done and are easy to use. Unfortunately, due to the time between using the shields and Seb’s tongue tie being fixed, I am still using the shields (he’s used to the large teet!) but you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In the first week, I expressed for a few days to ensure Seb was getting enough milk. I bought the Medela Swing second hand while I was pregnant as I’d heard raving reviews. I didn’t want to pay the £100+ pounds so picked this one up which had only been used once for around £35! You’ll need a steriliser too (I didn’t think of this and had to send dad out on a midnight run!), I bought the Tommee Tippee Microwave Steriliser which does the trick.
The Medela Swing is great. It is quiet, comfortable and everything you would want in an electronic pump. I would not recommend a hand held pump, you will just regret buying it and I couldn’t imagine spending one of those first nights hand pumping away!
One of the most daunting things about breastfeeding is doing it in public. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people to either care about what people think or ever shy of getting a boob out anyway! But, it does feel very strange for those first few times and you can’t help but feel looked at and judged. As I have been using the nipple shields, feeding can get a little messy. Seb would often fill the teet with milk, fall asleep and as he pulled away, the milk would spill out all over me and all over him! So I need to use a few muslins to ensure we both don’t get soaked! There are a few things you can use to take your mind off the nerves of feeding in public.
Firstly, the Boobie Blanket. This very clever invention ensures you can fumble around beneath it (getting your boobs out is sometimes a lot harder than you think when you have a crying baby!) and makes for a very private and comfortable feeding environment for your baby. They come in lots of different designs (I have the polkadots and love it!) and fold up compactly into your changing bag once you’re finished.
The other option is the ever trusty Muslin. They can be thrown over your shoulder, propped under your boob and used to cover your babies head.
Drinks and Food – Appletizer, my reaction with Fruit (newborn rash)
While you breastfeed, you need to watch what you eat and drink. In week two, I ate a huge fruit salad and it bought Seb out in an awful newborn rash that lasted for about 2 weeks! Spicy or rich food can have a real affect on them too, they may struggle to bring up their wind or be irritable and uncomfortable. Luckily Seb is pretty good with spicy food, but I’m still staying clear of acidic fruits!
Alcohol is also a big NO NO! I’ve been trying out some of the delicious new Apple and Pomegranate Appletiser’s which are a fab alternative to a cocktail!
I now own 8 maternity bras (mainly due to the boob leakage situation!). I was kindly gifted two Lorna Drew Maternity Bra’s in the beautiful Cotton Rose edition. They feel absolutely gorgeous, are extremely soft and comfortable and the design is beautiful and flattering. Unfortunately the clasp on one of the bras broke within the first 4 weeks and I have found that the cotton has stretched so much that they’ve become a little baggy. I would highly recommend this bra for smaller breasted ladies as they are just so gorgeous, comfortable, soft and dare I say, a little sexy?!
For bigger breasted ladies like me, Marks and Spencer’s are my favourite. I own this set of non padded bras and then this set of padded bras which I found offer extra protection against leakage and are slightly more comfortable if you’re used to wearing padded bras pre pregnancy!
I have also purchased two non padded maternity bras from Primark which I found surprisingly great! The sizes are pretty limited though, and their biggest size are pretty snug on me!
We are lucky enough to live near the AECC Chiropractor College in Bournemouth and I was told about their Newborn Feeding Clinic’s which are run every Thursday. We went along for a consultation where Seb was checked over by the student Chiropractors and we then had a one to one with a student midwife. They checked his positioning and latching and gave us some great advice. I would highly recommend the free feeding clinic and if your baby suffered any trauma during delivery, they can also offer treatment for this.
My local children’s centre offer a free breastfeeding group every week. It is a great place to go and check that your baby is latching on correctly and they offer all types of support to mums who are breastfeeding. It’s also a nice group to attend to meet other mums who are going through the same experience as you.
The BreastStart app is great for remembering feeding positions and to check that you are doing things right. There are lots of prompts, pictures and advice that I’ve found very helpful in the middle of the night!
I really hope that this helps some of you who may be planning on breastfeeding their babies. If things get too tough, don’t be too hard on yourself when you decide to bottle-feed. You need to do what is best for you and your baby, and if you’re stressed out about it, then the chances are you’ll be stressing out your baby too. Good luck!