Breastfeeding causes such controversy. Some people agree and others don’t, it gets caught up in the headlines and as usual you have the odd incident which causes uproar. I feel very level headed about feeding, I have fed both my children, I am fortune enough to have done so, it wasn’t easy but I persevered. Nonetheless, I am by no means a breastfeeding ‘promoter’. How you feed your baby is your choice, like it was mine. I disagree with women being made to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding and thankfully I haven’t been subjected to this negativity.
I was quite a young Mum, having Jenson before I turned 24. I never really knew that I wanted to breastfeed, I knew I would try but I hadn’t made my mind up with Jenson. I wasn’t really sure what to expect either and I was very laid back about the whole feeding thing. Emeline’s journey was different, I loved feeding Jenson by the end and knew that I wanted to feed baby two.
Jenson’s feeding journey
Once I had delivered Jenson in the pool, he was whisked off for some oxygen. I laid on the bed and waited for him to be handed to me for my first cuddle, it was a whirlwind and I remember feeling so overwhelmed. We cuddled and cuddled. It was a good few hours before a midwife suggested that I tried to feed him. I had no idea, I didn’t even think and actually he was 4/5 hours old at that point and he should have been fed before. He had a little feed and then slept for the majority of the night. He didn’t make a peep. I spent most of the night watching him and weeping after the ridiculously amount of water I drank! The next morning, I fed him again around 11am, so in 14 hours he only had two tiny feeds. I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I don’t think there is enough midwife support with breastfeeding and still to this day, I feel the advice is inconsistent and not always accurate.
Our journey with Jenson was a slow one. Two days after his birth he was still slow at feeding and I wasn’t sure on what I should be doing, we were admitted to stay at our local hospital for some jaundice treatment and Jenson had time on the sun bed! I could not fault the support we had there, Jenson needed food and we had a two hour plan, every two hours a midwife came in to support me and help Jenson latch. From there on, things started to work out. As expected my boobs became so painful, something that creeps up on you. I used some different techniques to help me manage the pain:
- Breast shields
- Nipple lotion – in my opinion there is no other cream that does it better than than Lansinoh.
- Cold drinks – my husband would always have a really cold drink ready with a straw for me to drink as Jenson latched on.
- Stress balls to squeeze
I finally felt like I was getting the hang of feeding. My boobs were still sore and incredibly full, they looked amazing, however, the constant weighing of Jenson brought the negatives. Jenson lost more than the 10% during his first 10 days. He was on the 9th centile, he stayed there but was slower at putting weight on, I was therefore hounded by health visitors telling me to top up with formula, pump breastmilk and see how much he is taking. I was unbelievably strong for a first time Mum and trusted my body and my own instincts and decided to ignore their advice, I knew he was putting on weight and he was such a happy baby that I didn’t feel I needed to give him formula. I had pumped but he wasn’t particularly interested in a bottle, in fact, he didn’t take a bottle until much later on and I wasn’t fussed by this. When I returned to work, I tried to express but I couldn’t really and he began to go off milk and opted for his food over milk. He would have follow on formula when he fancied it and I would feed him when I was off and morning and night.
We got there.
After a year of breastfeeding, with his little teeth, he bit me. It bloody hurt. It also bled! At that point, I decided to call it a day. Jenson had his last nighttime feed and he didn’t bat an eyelid. I also felt relieved to be free again too a little. As time went on, I felt sad, I missed the closeness and the cuddles and I saw others feeding and looked on with gratitude to have experience that moment.
Emeline’s feeding journey.
The two of them could not be any further from the same. Same Mumma so same milk! Proves how every baby is different! I fed Emeline when she was just an hour old, mainly to get the placenta moving as I wanted a natural delivery. She latched on perfectly almost every immediately and suckled away. From there on, she fed every 2-3 hours and she was an incredibly efficient feeder so she fed for 10 – 15 minutes a time.
Emeline loves her milk. Even now, she still loves to be fed and nursed. Her weight loss was minimal in the beginning and therefore her weight gain was on track and we were left alone. I felt more in control of feeding this time and I knew where I was going, however, I needn’t had worried as Emeline was a bigger baby who enjoyed her food more than Jenson.
Not that I am really in any place to offer advice, but here goes, this is what worked for me. Some things that I found helped me with feeding, both my confidence and just my ability to feed too:
- Take your time – feed when and where you need to, don’t feel rushed or rush the baby. Everything can wait, even if that does include parking tickets.
- Feel confident – babies can be a nightmare. The amount of times Jenson would display my boob to a coffee shop was ridiculous. I wore a cape to keep my ‘dignity’ and also had a necklace for him to play with.
- Don’t spend a fortune or nursing clothes – I used a lot of nursing vests and bras, these would be the two essentials but nursing tops are not necessary nor are they particularly comfortable. You can feed comfortable using a nursing best and wearing a normal lose top, also half the price. The tops where you open to pop your boob out did not work for me.
- Always carry breast pads – I particularly like reusable pads that I can wash, they need a few washes so they aren’t too fluffy and stick but you never run out, the sticky part doesn’t hurt your boob and they don’t make the papery noise. They also stay in place better throughout the day when you feed and turn your bra and top down.
- Wear a comfortable feeding bra – I love Marks and Spencer’s. They offer a good fitting service too and it’s generally advisable to get your nursing bras from 37 weeks onwards.
- Use a high quality nipple cream – do this in advance to toughen up your nipples and continue to do so to keep yourself comfortable. You will still suffer some discomfort but it takes the edge off.
- Eat and drink plenty – breastfeeding takes lots of goodness, keep your fluid and food intake up. Keep snacks and bottles of water beside your bed, in your changing bag and at the bottom of the pram. Looking after Mum is the most important.
- Use shields – when my boobs were so sore and bleeding, I would use a shield to give them time to heal. I would cover my nipple in cream and continue to feed alternatively using a shield for a feed, then a break, then the shield again.
- Get a good quality breast pump – definitely an electric one. Manuals need to have a good rhythm and take longer, time is not something you don’t have as a parent.
- Enjoy it! You have to dedicate your time, you will be the exclusive feeder for your baby, snuggle down, find the perfect feeding positions for you and your baby and enjoy it! Successful feeders are lucky, not every mum has a good journey and this can really upset and unsettle some mummies.
Finally, when Emeline was born, we had some photos taken at home. Our photographer was amazing and mentioned some women having feeding photos, I asked her to take some whilst I fed Emeline and I was delighted with the outcome. It really made me treasure these early days and I’ll look back on them with warmth.
I feel so lucky to have been able to feed both my babies but also how much I enjoy it. I hope to feed any more we have.