Breastfeeding – The Truth
Heeeyah BBY Family!
Today’s magical blog is about something I hold dearly to my heart and that is breastfeeding.
I have been exclusively breastfeeding (EBF) for 6 whole months, yep, my little girl is already 6 months! When she was first born the whole feeling of breastfeeding hit me and I couldn’t wait to get her latched on. I imagined it be so simple, painless and really easy to slip into like a pair on PJ’s. But I was wrong. Instead it felt like my nipples were trying to be ripped off! They were red, cracked and I’m confident they may have been bleeding too.
The first night in hospital was the hardest because I didn’t have a clue what I was actually doing. Yeah I had a breastfeeding consultant who I lied to when she asked if my latch was comfortable, it actually felt like I was passing shards of glass to a baby who never seemed to be satisfied. She would feed for 1-2hrs straight, stop to kip for 25 minutes then wake up for another feed. I couldn’t believe this. My dream of breastfeeding was a lie.
‘Where are the sweet moments?’, ‘When will this awful pain stop?’, ‘Am I producing enough?’.
This is something I obviously worried a lot about, she wasn’t ever happy with the amount I was producing so I topped her up with formula twice in my whole journey. The first time was at 3.40am when I sat crying to my husband that it hurt so much, I couldn’t carry on anymore and that my dream was now a vanishing memory. He went downstairs, got the ready made formula out of my hospital bag then took her downstairs for a feed. I only slept an hour and a half but I felt so guilty that I had given her formula that I just had to bear the pain. I lathered myself in cream, wore my maternity nightgown and sat crying whilst eating chocolate digestives over her.
The second time was when I was re-admitted to hospital and injected with radio active dye to diagnose my clot. She was hungry whilst I went for my scan and at this stage we weren’t at the mother and children unit. When we were both taken there she was on donor milk which soon, I hope to start doing. But due to my medication, at this moment in time, I am unable to do. Only a month to go!
It did get a lot easier though. A LOT. When I got better and my milk came in, I was laughing. I realised that breastfeeding is also new to my daughter, yeah it’s natural instinct but she doesn’t know how to do it properly. Only ‘FOOD, GIVE ME BOOB’ and she doesn’t care if it hurts you or not. I started to craft my latch to how it suited me, I found out that it was my daughter’s kryptonite to feed her on her side so she would have a good sleep. She is 6 months and still isn’t in a routine with sleep.
So if you can relate and you’re worried this isn’t normal because your mate who had a baby this week already has her child sleeping through the night – believe me it is! Because every baby is different.
Sleepless nights, the pain of breastfeeding, teething but most of all, the baby stage.. I know this isn’t forever.
Before writing this I asked if anyone wanted anything to be mentioned. Any subject to do around breastfeeding, something they’ve wondered about or if they’d like to share their personal story. This is what you told me you wanted to know…
Anything I that I should avoid?
I personally would stay away from energy drinks, too much coffee and getting drunk. You can drink small amounts of alcohol now and then. You are told you can have that small glass of wine as long as you can still hold baby as you feed and you’re not tipsy. Very small amounts pass through to the baby, not enough to harm him. When it comes to food then there isn’t really anything to avoid.
How do I increase my milk supply?
I find things like flapjacks really helped me out. When I was in labour that was all I ate because I was told it would boost my energy and also contribute to breastfeeding. Although there isn’t really a magical fruit from God’s tree to eat but there are things like special tea, vitamins and most of all water. Breast milk is mostly water and nutrition, keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. Skin to skin will encourage your body to pump out the milk, you can also have a thing called a ‘let down’. This is when your milk comes rushing in, I get this every feed and sometimes it’s so heavy that my daughter unlatches and the milk goes EVERYWHERE. Sometimes I do believe I am indeed a cow or a fountain. This is normal though, don’t panic if you feel a slight rushing pain/lightening pain, that is your let down.
What do I do if my baby has tongue tie?
Speak to your health visitor if it has been discovered after you leave the hospital. Doctors are usually really good at spotting this and the baby ends up just having it snipped so it is easier to latch. It is going to be tough and it is going to be sore so have a look for local baby groups, there will be others there who will be able to support and encourage you to carry on. You can also look into different holding methods when it comes to feeding, there are too many to name but you will find the one you are most comfortable with. You got this and you know what? If it is too much and you decide to combi-feed or just bottle feed, you did your very best and you are one amazing mummy regardless.
How do I go about loosing weight whilst breastfeeding?
I was told I was going to get a super slim body after having a baby. Unfortunately, that was a lie. But I didn’t decide to breastfeed because of that, just to let it be known. I was a size 12 before baby and I am now a size 16, a saggy tummy and size 40F boobs. I am currently going to the gym, doing two hours max as then my baby wants a feed. I do a range of cardio and strength. I work a lot on my abs and arms. I have been posting my progress on the Bump, Baby and You group so you should definitely check it out. I take frozen or just normal lemon in a water bottle, I listen to my body and when it is time to stop I stop. I have cut down on the amount of junk food, although I have the occasional chocolate bar. I have found a lot of women do Slimming World too. Slimming world do a diet especially for women breastfeeding, this is so you are still eat foods that help you have energy and the right nutrients in your milk.
How do I stay energised?
You’ve probably already heard this but… Seriously, SLEEP when your baby sleeps. This is something I didn’t do as I wanted to be active, but my mind was saying go but my body was exhausted from the hours of labour. Not to mention the forceps delivery and episiotomy! I bed share with my little girl and there have been some nights I have gone to scratch my nipple to find my daughter has latched herself on throughout the night. This is one of the main benefits I love about bed-sharing. There are risks with bed sharing, you CANNOT do it if you are drunk, on heavy medication or do drugs as you’ll be too out of it to know what is happening so it is safer if baby sleeps in a Moses basket or cot next to you instead. But you can still do everything above. It is a lot easier just picking baby up next to you and latching her on than going into another room. But I am a lazy person! Also remember to take time to relax. Give the baby to your partner or family member and go for a candle lit bath or have a nap upstairs.
What do I do with a clingy baby?
When babies are first born the world looks new, scary and smells funny. This is called ‘The Fourth Trimester’. What I would recommend to someone with a baby who won’t settle out of your arms or sleep anywhere else, invest in a sling. You can carry your baby around like it is back in the womb, you can also breastfeed in it so you can walk around ASDA like ‘LOOK, NO HANDS’ as you show your sick skills off. Again co-sleeping or bed sharing also helps, but always be sure to do your research first. My daughter used to love falling asleep in my arms then I would carry her to bed where we would both fall asleep in the same position.
How do I breastfeed with huge boobs?
I have big boobs, you do become used to them in the end. There are positions I found helpful were, the usual cradle hold with the baby across you feeding, sideways feeding and sitting her upwards to help her with reflux.
Colic and reflux, the difference? How do I make it better?
All babies will probably suffer with colic. Colic is when your baby cries when all it’s needs have been met and they’re still going hard with the crying. What I found helped was A LOT of skin to skin, stripping her down to a nappy and sellotaping a nipple pad to the boob I wasn’t using and sitting in a cool room whilst trying to soothe her with breast or walking around humming to lullabies with her in the cradle position. Once she had gone to sleep I would lay her down next to me and we would fall asleep. I also used Infacol from the doctors, which helped. Reflux is when you have a baby throwing up it’s feed, this is like an adult version of indigestion/heartburn. Not every time your child is sick does this mean reflux. Sometimes babies think they’re hungrier than they are but their little bodies end up chucking up the overflowing milk in their little tanks.
Finally, breastfeeding in public…
Breastfeeding anywhere outside my home really scared me. I am sure almost every other soon to be mummy has thought ‘well, what do I do when baby needs feeding?’ My reply is do what you feel is best. I ‘double shirt it’ which basically means I am always wearing a tank top and a baggy shirt, when she wants feeding I lift the baggy top and get my booby out. Then my tummy is covered and only my boob/nipple is on show but my baby is on that so nothing is seen. In the 6 months I have been doing this nobody has said anything or batted an eyelid towards me. Others don’t care what others think and get on but there are some who feel comfortable with a breastfeeding cover. You are no less of a person how you feed you baby, fed is best. I personally found carrying a cover, then trying to get it sorted drew attention to us with her screaming was just too much for me. Double shirting is discreet and easy to do, only downfall is you get hot really quick. Especially in hot weather.
Breastfeeding isn’t easy and simple like I hoped. But it was the best thing I have ever done and I will always try to help encourage other women to do so. It will get easier after the first week or so and you will get more sleep once the days go by.
If anyone has any stories they’d like to share in the comments or personally inbox me any questions then please do.