A group of worldwide breastfeeding mums and I have come up with the top 10 things we wish we knew before starting our breastfeeding journeys.
Now, these are definitely not to try and out you off because as any breastfeeding mum will know, it’s so rewarding and a wonderful natural thing to do. Im a huge advocate for breastfeeding but I really disagree with how professionals overlook how tough it can be. I remember having so many questions but never had a chance to ask my midwife. She did ask me if I was breastfeeding, gave me a leaflet and that was the end of it. The leaflet was a load of rubbish really, with pictures of a latch and someone pumping it was no help at all and definitely didn’t tell me what was to be expected. So hopefully this will help someone whos struggling or looking to find out what to expect with breastfeeding.
“What you get whilst pumping isn’t an indication of your supply”
If you have to pump whilst breastfeeding for whatever reason, don’t panic. A baby is much better at getting milk than a pump is. Some women cannot pump at all but still have chunky babies. Some women just don’t respond to pumps.
“Cluster feeding is normal”
When your baby is going through a growth spurt he/she will cluster feed. This is usually in the evening or night time, they will become fussy and basically feed feed feed. This isn’t a concern, they’re just trying to regulate your supply to adjust it according to their growth spurt. But they don’t always feed because they’re hungry. Sometimes they just want to be near you. The world is such a scary place. You offer them comfort. Common times for growth spurts are during the first few days at home and around 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months.
“The first few nights are some of the hardest”
Those first nights home from the hospital can be extremely hard. Baby is adjusting to feeding for the first time, you’re adjusting to breastfeeding a new baby. It can be so overwhelming. Baby will probably be clingy and do some cluster feeding as they’d be trying to get your colostrum and milk following to how much they like. Also, newborn babies stomachs are constantly growing, so one day they might be satisfied, the next they need to cluster feed to let your body know they need that extra oz.
“Babies taking a bottle after feeding on the breast”
Babies will. They don’t know when to stop. They’ll eat it if it’s offered, then they’ll vomit it all back up again. If you begin supplementing with formula or expressed milk, you will lower your supply, because each bottle given is less time on the breast. It’s creating a paradox, often called the ‘formula trap’.
“Its different with every child”
As every child is different, so is breastfeeding. You have breastfed before and it went super smoothly or had a rough time yet with the new baby, it could be completely the opposite!
“Even though it’s the most natural thing, its still has to be learnt by mother and baby”
You are both on the biggest learning curve of your lives. It takes so much time learning to breastfeed, neither of you will get it straight away. It takes a lot of patience, sleepless nights and a little pain, but hey, isn’t that what parenting is all about!
“It’s normal that it’s uncomfortable, to begin with”
Breastfeeding will be uncomfortable to start with. If you’re a first-time mum it’s such an alien concept.
Nothing has ever been sucking on your nipple for the amount of time this baby is. All that new suction and pulling is a weird feeling. Although it’s uncomfortable, it really shouldn’t hurt that much. Youll get cracked nipples that may bleed but its normal and you can feed even though your nipples are bleeding. Just get a good nipple cream and keep applying it.
We had a problem with tongue tie, this was horrible. The pain was indescribable. I knew something wasn’t right. If you feel that way too, then follow your instincts, they’re the best around.
“To relieve sore boobs use a warm flannel and hot shower”
Oh, engorgement. When your milk comes in and your body goes into overdrive making it and baby can’t keep up, or when you missed a feed and bottle fed, or when baby skips a feed and you’re left with huge hard painful boobs. Yes, not fun. We all seemed to recommend a hot shower and boob massage.
“Stay hydrated, eat and don’t stress”
I for one pretty much learnt this the hard way. My supply dropped because the first few days alone I couldn’t find the time to eat and drink whilst looking after Primrose. This made my milk drop a lot. Which really didn’t help as having a hungry baby screaming whilst your hand expressing like crazy trying to find the tiniest drop of milk which wasn’t there. I was super stressed, this made me not eat or drink and I got stuck in a vicious cycle. This affected me for a good week until my supply came back.
“Mastitis, thrush, clogged ducts and much more”
It’s definitely not easy. You can get mastitis, clogged ducts and loads of other things from breastfeeding but women take these in their stride. If you feel any sort of pain deep in the breast, oozing or flu-like symptoms then its best to get checked out by the doctor. Most things will go after a few days of antibiotic, others are more serious so get them sorted quickly. I personally have been so lucky to not have had mastitis or a clogged duct in my 4 months of breastfeeding so far, but chances are I will have them at some point in my journey.
“It’s a lot harder than I imagined, it’s not easy”
Even after all of this, it’s still such hard work. It’s draining, both physically and mentally. But you will never get bored of that little tiny face looking up at you whilst they are getting a belly full of milk. Those eyes and the little sounds of satisfaction they make are adorable.