So I thought I’d write a blog to share with people what I’ve found has helped me to successfully and comfortably breastfeed and what I have found most difficult so far Despite my experience being a good one compared to other people, I have had struggles to get to this point. Basically in the hope to give anyone who is worried about breastfeeding some tips and tricks that worked for me. I also would like to say that it doesn’t matter if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you, because at the end of the day… fed is best no matter what!
I’m going to start by saying I am in no way a breastfeeding expert. I most definitely am a complete novice and did not expect to be this confident with it 3 weeks in. I believe I have mentioned in previous blogs about my reluctance to do it but I’ll explain again for those who haven’t read that previously. I honestly wasn’t sure how I felt about breastfeeding, I didn’t think I would be able to do it and I had huge doubts about even trying it. I’m not confident in any way what so ever and so the thought of getting my baps out in public or around family/friends wasn’t something I thought I could ever do. I say “get my baps out” but it’s not even like that – I am as discreet as I can be when in company. I don’t just full frontal get my breast out completely because well…that would be awkward. As the pregnancy went on, I became more and more interested in giving breastfeeding a go, and I thought… what can I lose?! If it doesn’t work, at least I tried. But the following tips and tricks are what I would say helped me to achieve a successful breastfeeding experience.
Tip 1: RESEARCH. RESEARCH. RESEARCH!
For MONTHS before Fletcher was born I watched endless breastfeeding videos. I learnt everything there was to know about how to get a successful latch. This was sooo important for me to get Fletcher to latch correctly from the get go. Ensuring that your baby gets a HUGE gob full of your nipple is the most important thing. If baby is only sucking on the very end of your nipple, that is gunna give you A LOT of pain. I wouldn’t allow my nipple to even enter Fletcher’s mouth until he’d open wide. Videos I watched would show exactly when to put a little pressure on the back of baby’s head so that they would get a big mouthful. You’re doing a variety of things such as tickling their top lip with your nipple, or rubbing it under their nose so that they can get the scent of your milk. These little things can help trigger them to think… “ooooh milk…NOM NOM!” and they’ll open nice and wide. The minute they do, you gotta act fast! You gotta bring their head to your boob quick and smooth while the gates open! So do your research, watch video after video until its embedded in your brain! I didn’t attend any classes or learn from a professional to find out this information. Online is a magical thing that can allow you to sit on your sofa, eating a large bar of chocolate whilst watching videos of babies breastfeeding. Ensure to research about the INCORRECT techniques not just the correct ways, as this helps you to learn what NOT to do. You don’t realise all the different things that can actually hinder the whole process. You may smell strongly of perfume, or you may have their head twisted slightly. There are unfortunately other reasons why your baby may not latch which are out of your control and this can’t be helped.. Don’t feel bad, just feed your baby and move on. They’ll still love you!
Tip 2: NURSING FRIENDLY CLOTHING.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the right clothes to ensure you can get easy access as soon as it’s required. I would like to recommend H&M for their maternity/nursing wear. They do really comfortable bras with clips at the front, they are shaped like sports bras and I LOVE them! I also use their nursing vest tops which also have clips at the front, which I will wear under my t-shirt to cover my tummy when I feed. So whenever it’s time to feed, I will un-clip my vest and my bra under my t-shirt first and get my boob ready to feed under my clothing first, so I’m not fumbling around trying to do it whilst he is in my arms hunting for the nip! Then I will lift my top to just expose only my nipple when he is in my arms, so that he can latch when he has opened wide. So then throughout this process, if i’m out in public or I have company, I haven’t once exposed myself until his head is basically covering me anyway. This has enabled me to feel comfortable to breastfeed no matter where I am or who is around. Which is what has surprised me the most. I thought I’d want to leave the room so I wasn’t watched whilst I fed or I didn’t feel like I was exposed. But I’ve been pretty good at doing it discreetly I’d say, and so I’ve been better than I thought. Also, the benefit of wearing a vest as well is this is what has mostly taken the brunt of my leakages! Be ready to soak through a few tops and bras in the early days!
Tip 3: ESTABLISH IN THE FIRST WEEK
I was so worried about breastfeeding not working out that I basically requested to have a week of no visitors after Fletcher was born, so that I could just get the hang of it before I had people over. I was so glad to have some time to just relax and go with it for a week. I didn’t have to cover up when people were over, I could get it all out and just focus entirely on getting that correct latch. Even the benefits of skin to skin contact helps. I didn’t have to feel anxious about an expectant visitor and getting a feed done before they came or having to leave the room or anything, because it was just the 3 of us and it was lush! I don’t even think we ended up sticking to this rule because he was doing so well, so I started to get the hang of feeding discreetly and then we could start having guests over sooner. This time we did have of minimal visitors was also great for daddy, as it gave him time to bond with Fletcher without interruptions or distractions too – and man do they have a good bond! Fletcher adores his daddy, he is so familiarised with his voice and loves to have daddy talk to him!
Tip 4: CATCH THOSE EARLY FEEDING CUES!
Whatever you do, don’t wait until your baby is crying for a feed because that will only make the latch seem impossible. Keep your eyes out for all those early signs that they make to show they are starting to get hungry. Another thing I learnt from all the research I did online basically. Fletcher only has to yawn and I’m shoving his face on my boob. No, I’m kidding. There’s is a bit of truth in this though. Babies may yawn, or turn their head a lot. They may suck on their hands or just generally be rooting around mid air for a nipple. All these little signs are the early cues that help to get the feed started before he has even had a chance to cry about being hungry. If he’s got to the point where he is crying, then I’ve not been looking out for his early signs and the latch can be a little trickier to get. I started this literally from day 1 in the hospital. Fletch would barely ever be in the little plastic cot thing beside the bed, because he just ALWAYS showed the early cues and I couldn’t help but jump on them to ensure I didn’t miss them before it was too late. So it felt like he was feeding every hour! I do wonder whether this was what played such a big part to him being so easy to feed.
Tip 5: CHICCO NEXT TO ME CRIB
This crib, for me, has been an excellent purchase! I have not had to physically get out of bed to feed Fletch because he is right there next to me. So he is easy to grab and plonk on for a feed and place him back to sleep when he is done and winded. I also love being able to see him so closely, because I’m a HUGE worrier I just like to know he is okay. We didn’t initially start with the crib attached to our bed, it was only after his second night in it that we decided to take down one side and attach it. This was because he started to get really needy, it was as if he didn’t like being separate to us and so he wouldn’t settle. It was almost making him cluster feed through the night every hour just so he could be on me and feel comforted. Once we’d dropped the side and attached it, this made him feel close enough to me to be settle and he started to sleep 3-4 hours straight before wanting his next feed.
Tip 6: BREAST PADS – STOCK UP!
I know this may not be the case for everyone, but I have A LOT of milk. I will literally get out of the shower and my nipples are dripping with milk! So I will soak through breast pads thick and fast! I have tried a couple different brands of pad but there are 2 I have found pretty good. The Lansinoh brand pads are really comfortable and very absorbant – I was given these to try and haven’t yet bought a box myself as I’m still getting through some I already have from Boots. The Boots ones aren’t too bad, they’re slim fit, a little itchy on my skin compared to the Lansinoh ones, but they do the job well, I started with the normal slim ones but yesterday found their advanced ones a bit more comfortable as they are shaped better. The Sainsbury’s ones however I have not found to be as good at all. They almost seem too small and so I soak through to my clothes with them too often. For me, because I produce a lot of milk, I have to change them so often. Especially in the early days, I was just a milk machine! The absorbency is everything.
Tip 7: HAAKAA / NATURE BOND SILICONE BREAST PUMP
This product is simply incredible. It’s a small silicone bottled shape that suction cups to your boob whilst you feed from the other. As you feed, your opposite boob will naturally leak breast milk and basically this pump just helps to catch all that milk so you can use it for another feed if you wish to. I think its bloody amazing! I got a whole 3 oz out of one use during a 10 minute feed, this is pretty much a whole feed amount! I don’t know if other people will find it as success, I think I have because I have a lot of milk. So it may work, it may not – but it’s a great product for me that I would highly recommend.
I’m sure as time goes on I will have more tips and tricks that have helped throughout my breastfeeding experience. But so far these have been my definite top 7!
Now I’m not going to leave it there and act like its all been hunky dory – because it hasn’t been. I have had things that haven’t been easy. Nowhere near as difficult as some people I know, but things that I personally found hard. In the first week, it was painful. Every time Fletcher latched, id wince in pain. It was like a sharp scratchy feeling in my nipple whilst he was sucking. Luckily it didn’t last the whole feed, it was just as he was latching. It would ease off as he would feed thankfully. This did improve as the days went on, I just had to grin and bear it until it stopped happening completely. Lanolin was my best friend through this stage. After every feed I’d apply a pea sized amount to my nipples (which hurt to apply as my nipples were so sore) I had to rub it so gently. This didn’t have to be removed before the next feed so that was helpful. Oh my, were showers painful!! Every time water hit my nipples I’d want to cry. I’d have to cover them from the water whilst I showered, or keep my boobs out of the water as I washed. I felt like my nipples were being stabbed with needles!
In the second week a lot of the painful feelings had subsided, thank god! I thought we were beginning on the road to success. Until Fletcher suddenly decided he didn’t know where my nipple was! He’d wriggle his head around, open mouthed, fussing around my nipple but not actually putting it in his gob at all. I put pressure on his head and he’d just scrunch up his face like he was sucking on a lemon (and I hadn’t eaten anything out of the ordinary) and wouldn’t suck it at all. It was driving me insane because he’d start to scream about it because he was hungry. This would go on for a good 5-10 minutes before he eventually latched and then would feed perfectly for the rest of the feed. I blame myself for this stage, as I’d introduced the bottle too early I think. I was expressing (due to my insane milk production – I thought why not and it helped relieve my ginormous, milk dripping, rock tits) so that Scott could help with some feeds and it would mean when I eventually stopped breastfeeding he would already be familiar with the bottles. Because of this, I think Fletcher got a bit nipple confused. It was as if he was wondering why my nipple wasn’t already completely erect and ready to go beforehand. No mate… you gotta suck it! So I cut out the bottle during the second week and he’s got the hang of it again. I am a little apprehensive now about re-introducing the bottle, as I’m worried we will take 2 steps back again. But I know I don’t want to be purely breastfeeding as I really want Scott to help out too, so that Fletch learns to settle for other people not just me. He is already very needy for me, because I got the grub essentially! However, this week I will bring the bottle back and see what happens.
All in all, I have had a pretty damn good experience with breastfeeding. Considering the tough times have only been 2 weeks total really. They say once you get past the first 6 weeks you’ve pretty much got it… so what will happen in the next 4 weeks for us then if that’s the case? Mastitis is the fear I have at the moment…but I hope to god it’s just plain sailing from here really. Only time will tell!