I would just like to say upfront that fed is best, it doesn’t matter if you are breastfeeding or formula feeding. A happy mum, happy baby and whatever works best for you – is all that matters.
When I had my daughter 7 years ago, I only breastfeed for a few months. But looking back I wish I would have continued for longer.
This time round I knew from the start that I would like to try and breastfeed for a year if possible. I prepared myself more and also remembered what I could have done differently to last time.
I’m not going to lie the first few weeks were hard. I had tears in my eyes whenever he latched on; due to cracked and sore nipples, I was exhausted from the constant cluster feeding. The lack of sleep was really getting to me, there were times when I considered giving up and giving him formula just so I could have 3 hours of sleep in one strech.
But I’m glad I didn’t give up, things do get easier, the pain when they latch on will go away and you will get to sleep more. I now have a very happy 9 week old, who sleeps 7-8 hours at night and then goes back to sleep for another 1-2 hours.
I wanted to share some of my tips and items that helped me through the first 2 months.
1. Do your research and ask for help
It helps set your mind at ease and you feel a little more relaxed instead of overthinking everything. With my first I thought the cluster feeding meant she wasn’t getting enough milk, when it was just her upping my milk supply.
The midwives at the hospital were brilliant and always there if you had a question about the baby’s latch or anything else.
My health visitor reassured us about the amount of wet and dirty nappies a breastfed baby should have.
2. Let others help you
I was a single parent with Miley, so naturally I was used to doing everything myself. But this time was different, I had a supportive husband who wanted to help. I really struggled in the beginning to let my husband help me at night time with the nappy changes or winding the baby after a feed. My best advice is to take all the help you can get in the beginning. Those 5 minutes that he takes to change the baby, are 5 minutes for you to sit back and relax.
My mother-in-law was such a big help, she stayed with us for the first week and did most of the housework whilst I was confined the sofa with the cluster feeding and my husband struggled with the lack of sleep. You dont always realise how little gestures of others help you out in the long run. We would have most likely drowned in a mountain of laundry if it wasn’t for her in the first week.
3. Take your time, your baby is learning too
Remember your baby is also learning how to latch on properly, it’s something new for both for you.
When Carter was born he latched on straight away and I remember thinking I’ve got this, this is easy. The next day we struggled, he wouldn’t latch on properly. I started doubting myself, got really stressed and he started screaming the place down. This is when the midwives reminded me that the baby is learning as well. Take a moment to breath and try again. It took us about a week to get the latch on right everytime and the pain gradually went away.
4. Take care of your breasts and nipple
When the milk finally came in on day 2 my breasts were full and aching. My nipples were sore and cracked from the breastfeeding all day. I was ready to throw to the towel and give a bottle, as I was in tears everytime he latched on.
The 3 items that helped me the most were the Medela Nipple shields, Lanisoh nipple cream and Lanisoh breast cooling pad. I will add link at the bottom of the article.
Medela nipple shields were a life saver, I tried 3 different brands and found the lanisoh ones were the best fit for us. Whenever I felt that my nipples were sore and needed a break I put the shields on, Carter took to them instantly. I used them constantly for the first 3 weeks, they also come in a little storage case, so you can pop them in your changing bag for on the go.
The cooling pads really helped whenever my breats were engorged, my hsuband made sure that we had some spare ones ready to go. The Lanisoh Lanisoh ones can also be warmed up.
I still use the Lanisoh nipple cream on a daily basis now, a little known fact is that you can also use it as lip balm. The best way to let your cracked nipples heal is by letting some air on them after you applied the cream.
5. People don’t really care if you breastfeed in public
I’m not the most body confident person and felt really anxious about other peoples reactions to me breastfeeding in public. Turns out that I was wrong and people couldn’t care less, no one stares at you or whispers about it.
I used to try and cover up with the biggest scarf I could find and would sit in the corner to feed him.
Now I just sit anywhere and use a standard muslin to cover the breast area. I found that week 4 was a turning point for me and I felt more confident about feeding in public.
6. Have water snacks everywhere
Breastfeeding made me even thirstier than normal and having water with me at all times was important. The same goes for snacks, I prefer having little healthy snacks throughout the day.
7. My favourite breastfeeding items
What are your tips for breastfeeding?