After speaking to many new mums it became apparent that there isn’t enough info given during pregnancy about the realities of breastfeeding. I’m glad I’ve been quite public on Facebook and Instagram about the fact I’m breastfeeding because it’s meant a couple of people have felt able to reach out and ask me for help or tips. Some of this I learnt from a friend of mine, who’s little girl is 6months older than Harvey and has been wonderfully helpful during not just our breastfeeding journey but absolutely anything I’ve needed help with.
You’ve gone through labour and there is suddenly a tiny human in your arms. As soon as possible skin to skin, and hope baby knows what to do, because it seems we certainly don’t.
Ask for help. There are breast feeding peer workers, health visitors, midwives all around to help. Some better than others. Having breastfed doesn’t make them automatically good. It means you have to whip a boob out and probably be manhandled and probably sit in awkward positions whilst you get used to it but even when you think you’ve cracked it, ask for more help!
Stay in hospital for aslong as you need, do not rush to leave! At least in there you have an excuse to keep visitors to a minimum (or away entirely should you want to)
Join a Facebook group – if you’re local to me then try ‘Glossop breastfeeding group’ or ‘Cherubs’. Although Ive never actually been along to the groups they run (a bit too far) I have asked questions and read others advice on there. I attended a local breast feeding group but it was just before we were readmitted to hospital and I was very overwhelmed so didn’t find it particularly helpful.
If you are unfortunate enough to have a rough labour and require surgery, discuss with your partner how you wish baby to be fed in your absence. Giving a baby a bottle this soon is not ideal, syringe or cup feeding is a possibility.
Buy some nipple shields. Handy to have in for particularly sore days, incase baby can’t latch etc. Don’t let anyone tell you they’re not advised for long term. We used them for 3 months, Harvey weaned himself off them when he was ready.
Did you know…
1. you should be waking your newborn baby every 2 or 3 hours to feed them for at least the first 4/6weeks. This might involve undressing them, wet wiping them down, and keeping them awake might involve jiggling their arm/leg etc. They might do this themselves very quickly.
2. Babies do something very clever known as cluster feeding. They might want feeding every 30mins one day, or every hour during the night. You start to worry that your boobs aren’t working but it’s your babies way of telling your boobs to make more milk, and it will pass. Make yourself comfy with the tv, lots of water and snacks and just ride it out. I highly recommend a feeding pillow and a rocking chair during these times – you get so tired you think you’re going to fall asleep on the baby or drop the baby.
3. you’ll eventually not care about people seeing your boobs because they’re now fulfilling their purpose, but until then it’s okay to sit upstairs whilst feeding your new baby if you feel you need to because you’ve got a house full of visitors
4. you will eventually be able to feed very discreetly, so you won’t be trapped in the house forever
5. although you’ve read horror stories of people being verbally abused for feeding in public it is much rarer than you think, and there are actually people out there who might hand you a card congratulating you for helping to break the stigma! If someone is looking, chances are they don’t realise you’re feeding and it’s just because everyone loves a baby!
6. breastfed babies sometimes do green, stringy poo and it’s okay! Most of the time it’s like korma though. And poo-splosions happen ALOT! Always have a change of clothes for baby with you.
7. breastfed babies sometimes put weight on in small bursts. One week maybe just 3oz, the next maybe 1lb + and that’s okay too! A gain is still a gain, if they’re tracking the weight chart in their book then don’t let anyone make you feel like it’s not good enough!
8. the world health organisation state benefits to feeding until aged 2 years now, so those people who ask you ‘how long you’ll feed him for’ – tell them until he’s 18!
9. your nipples will hurt. They’ll either be chapped or baby will pull off so violently you’ll end up with niplash or even they’ll get teeth and not quite know what to do with them to start with. The pain goes away, babies grow out of things.
Tips for upping supply:
Oats (porridge, flapjacks), lactation cookies (find recipes online), fenugreek tablets, raspberry leaf tea, *whispers* placenta encapsulation and generally just eating ALOT. You need 500 extra calories, forget the diet!
People say ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ (sigh!) and ‘get daddy to give them a bottle while you sleep’ – the latter is not so easy when breastfeeding. Of course you can pump or hand express, but you shouldn’t do it too much in the first 6 weeks, and if you do make sure baby has that milk in a bottle in that 24hrs, don’t start building a freezer stash just yet! (After that the 6 rule applies to breast milk. 6 hours at room temp, 6 days in fridge, 6 months in freezer)
Happy Boobin’! xx