Budding Smiles: My Top 5 Truths about Breastfeeding
How you feed your baby can be an incredibly contentious issue and I really wish that wasn't the case. I like to see the good in the world and I believe that us mums do the best that we can for our children.
I breastfed my son Toby for four months and my reasons for stopping at that point are numerous and complex, all covered in my blog posts about silent reflux and raising a high need child. My daughter Martha is seven weeks old as I write and our breastfeeding journey is going from strength to strength.
With two very different experiences of my own, I thought I would share my top five truths about breastfeeding.
1. It gets easier!
I thought it would be best to start with a high note rather than scare prospective breastfeeding mamas away. Whilst it may be penned as being the most natural thing in the world, breastfeeding is a skill that you and your baby have to learn. You will have hiccups along the way and in my experiences, the first fortnight was the hardest with both babies. The good news is that it gets a lot better very quickly and now, feeding Martha truly is completely natural to me.
2. It's not breast OR bottle, you can have both.
Martha hasn't had a bottle yet, but I have been expressing a few ounces of milk a day, using my Lansinoh 2-in1 Double Electric Pump as well as my Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump for when I'm out of the house. The pump is ridiculously easy to use and I am currently storing the milk in Lansinoh’s Breastmilk Storage Bags. It will last perfectly well in the freezer for up to 6 months - ready for my upcoming *cough* 30th *cough* birthday, when mum and dad will babysit for us.
There are a variety of opinions about if, how and when to introduce expressed milk to your baby. Toby had expressed milk in bottles from around 3 weeks and never struggled with nipple confusion. Martha will be trying her first bottle soon and we'll be using the Lansinoh NaturalWave bottle, which is designed to help maintain established breastfeeding patterns. I'll let you know how that's going in my next post.
3. Your nipples will hurt.
There's a very unhelpful phrase in the breastfeeding world that if it hurts, you're doing it wrong. Now I'm not a trained professional but I'm yet to come across a mummy whose poor nipples don't feel sore and sometimes cracked in the early days. A breastfeeding peer supporter came and checked my latch, it was fine, but I still had a toe curling few seconds at the beginning of feeds for the first week or so.
Lather your nipples with Lansinoh’s HPA Lanolin, get advice from a trained advisor and don't be scared to try different positions. You'll get there, I promise!
4. People do not stare or make rude comments!
Ah the good old media love to tell us all about the very, very few unfortunate mamas who are treated in a negative manner because they're breastfeeding.
Whilst I appreciate that nobody should have to experience negativity for simply feeding their child, I think that these blaring headlines of discrimination can serve to terrify mums-to-be and make them scared to breastfeed. For weeks with Toby, I was on edge every time I fed in public, just waiting for someone to order me to feed in the toilet or tell me I was disgusting. Guess what? That didn't happen. What did happen, and does now with Martha too, is that when I go to a coffee shop the barista will offer to carry my drink over to my table so that I can settle down and latch my hungry baby on. I'm brought a glass of water because breastfeeding is thirsty work. I've been told how amazing my baby girl looks with her chubby cheeks and legs, "Well done mummy!"
5. Don’t be scared. Your breasts will look, feel and act different.
You will get Pammy Anderson boobs when your milk comes in somewhere around day three, your nipples become darker and larger, the very sound of a baby crying (not even necessarily yours) will result in you leaking. It takes some getting used to, but keep a supply of Lansinoh’s breast pads in every room and bag you'll use, once the initial engorgement settles then get fitted properly for some new nursing bras and always remember that these changes are your body's way of providing for your precious little human.
As I said above, I am not a trained professional, but I think that sometimes anecdotal stories from real life mums can be invaluable. I hope that if you're reading this and are about to have a baby, it will have helped in some way. If you do decide to breastfeed then it takes work, a lot of patience and some breaking through your pain threshold, but then it becomes much easier and you will feel so proud.
Mama, you got this!