I think if my calculations are correct, I’ve been breastfeeding for a total of 8 years and counting so I’d like to think I know a little bit about the trials and tribulations of feeding babies. I’ve had my fair share of hurdles so I thought I’d share a few of my tips for new Mums in the hope that they might help someone, somewhere!
expect it to hurt to start with | i don’t think I’ve come across one person who has breastfed who didn’t experience some form of pain or discomfort to start with. I definitely recommend getting your latch checked and baby checked for tongue ties and such if you’re having a lot of pain but generally, even if your latch is spot on then there is going to be some soreness, to begin with, unless you’re used to someone sucking on your nipples every couple of hours. Even if you’re still breastfeeding your older child it’s still likely you’ll experience some discomfort whilst you and your new baby get into a groove. With Eloise we had quite a lot of issues early on and my nipples were a fucking mess for at least 3 months. It took us a little longer than normal to find our groove but things got better when we did. Allow yourself and baby time to master it because it’s new to both of you which is something I think a lot of Mums don’t realise, we are too hard on ourselves, far far too hard. Yeh ok, breastfeeding is what our bodies are meant to be designed to be able to do but that doesn’t mean we are masters at it from the get-go, it takes time; it’s ok not to “get it” straight away. It’s a skill, and skills take practice. All that being said, we all have varying levels of pain tolerance, support systems, yadda yadda yadda and if it’s too much, it’s too much, and that’s ok.
don’t quit on a bad day | this is the mantra that kept me going with Lily. I definitely didn’t think we would still be breastfeeding at 3 and a half because I genuinely didn’t think I’d have been able to cope with the D-MER this long but alas, I have and since day weaning her the D-MER and aversion are a lot easier to handle. Honestly, when she was younger we had more bad days than good but I always made myself keep going because chances are, shit will feel better in the morning, even if only a little and even if you still decide to stop then at least it’s on a clear, rational head and not one stressed to utter shit at 3 am in the morning.
try different positions | when most new Mums think breastfeeding they think of the traditional cradle hold, am I right? This is probably the most uncomfortable I think, well, for me at least so definitely try out some others. Particularly feeding lay down, this is an actual lifesaver for those days or nights when you’re too fucking knackered to be upright because those days will come thick and fast. Rugby hold is another one, this is pretty much the only position I could get Eloise to latch in, to begin with.
research cluster feeding | a lot of Mums don’t realise what and/or how much of a complete bitch cluster feeding is and left feeling like they’re failing (when they’re absolutely not) and wondering why their baby turns into the spawn of satan around 6pm every night, two words – cluster feeding. It really bloody takes it out of you, especially in those early weeks when your nipples still haven’t adjusted and it sucks, not going to lie. It normally happens in the early evening where the baby will be unsettled and want to be attached to a nipple pretty much constantly until bedtime. It’s hard, it’s draining but as you get used to it, it becomes easier to manage and fit into your routine. So make sure you have a good old drink and some snacks to get you through the witching hours with a new baby.
go with the flow | all the books you read when you were pregnant? Forget about them. Feed every 4 hours? Feed at set times? Baby in bed by 7pm? Fuck all of that in the bin. Let yourself catch your breath before you try and start any sort of routine, let yourself and your new baby fall into your own pattern and adjust to your new world before you stress yourself out over routines. It’s also normal for breastfed babies to feed every 4 hours, 2 hours or even less sometimes. It all depends on your baby and trying to fit them into what some random book said is only going to stress you the fuck out. Go with the flow.
consider co-sleeping | there are lots of guides online about safe co-sleeping and if you’re breastfeeding, let me tell you that co-sleeping is a hell of a lot easier. Have a look at a side on crib or even just a cot with the side off because flopping a tit out and letting baby get on with it is much easier than getting up every 2 hours. And no, it won’t make them want to in your bed until they’re 18.
don’t pressure yourself into pumping | now I totally get that some people do need/want to pump but quite often it’s more of a faff than it’s worth. Don’t feel pressured to pump just so Daddy, Nanny, Auntie, Uncle or whoever can feed the baby. They can bond other ways and pumping is quite often totally unnecessary and just added work for Mum. Only do it if you need to or absolutely want to.
remember to put your tit away | the number of times I’ve gone to answer the door or leave the house with a tit out is actually embarrassing, haha.
don’t put too much pressure on yourself | too much pressure = stress and stress = bad. All too often women feel pressured into doing whats “best” for their baby which then a lot of the time ends up in a vicious circle of guilt which is no good for anyone. Don’t force yourself to carry on if you don’t want to. You can stop at any time, it is always your decision. Then there are things out of your control that may prevent you from carrying on if you want to but that’s exactly my point – they’re out of your control. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
Do you have any breastfeeding tips for new Mums?