“Happy mummy, happy baby” - I’m a passionate believer in this mantra. I for one am totally pro-breastfeeding but I also believe that Fed is Best and that every mama needs to do what’s right for her and her bub, whether that be breastfeeding or formula feeding. But working that out as a new mum is easier said than done, especially when you have the crazy hormones and mama guilt to add to the mix!
How I would feed wasn’t really even on the radar during my first pregnancy. Most of my focus went into the kind of birth I wanted (which I didn’t get... but that’s another blog post!), decorating his nursery, choosing countless adorable outfits and making sure I had all the essentials. I did endless research on finding the perfect pram and car seat and had everything set to go for his arrival. I’d read the most popular parenting books, seen most of my friends have babies and thought I was as prepared as I could be. (I was also adamant he wouldn’t watch a screen for the first 3 years of his life – ha, I really had no idea!)
I planned to breastfeed and that was that. It looked easy enough and seemed to be the most natural thing on earth. I had my breastpump and a few bottles ready (so hubby could do some feeds), breastpads, feeding bras and lanolin cream. Ready to go.
But oh the PAIN!!! The toe curling, every-single-muscle-in-my-sore-body-clenched-in-agony pain!! What the hell was that about? It made the recovery of my last minute c-section feel like an absolute walk in the park! Before I’d even been discharged I ended up hooked to a hospital grade pump to give my boobs a rest because they were actually bleeding. I still remember being horrified to see blood in my son’s mouth. And wow, the engorgement. At one point I think each boob was actually bigger than my head. Yup, here’s the photographic evidence:
I don’t think I’d be exaggerating in saying that for me, it was probably the single most difficult thing I had to cope with in the early days of being a new mum. But I persevered, despite having to deal with a poor latch, flat nipples, thrush, blisters and blebs, and a baby that was a complete and utter milk-sucking barracuda. I used to dread each painful feed. I remember sitting on the couch one night in guilty tears after sending my hubby to the shops to buy formula, but then being unable to give it to my son due to the guilt. My hubby thought I was crazy. I was crazy. Crazy on pain, lack of sleep and guilt for not being able to do this most natural of things and feed my baby! And yet despite all this he was happily gaining weight and that kept me going. But it took almost 8 weeks before we finally managed to feed pain free.
I think it’s super important to talk about the fact that breastfeeding can be unbelievably hard and that it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I wished the midwives had talked about this in our antenatal classes. I wish I’d been a little more prepared. In the end my breastfeeding journey with my son ended around 6 months due to some other medical issues and by then we were already combination feeding. But with my daughter I knew what was coming. I asked for help early and we managed to successfully breastfeed for almost a year before she decided she’d had enough one morning and that was that. But that’s just my daughter, headstrong and already knowing what she wanted at that age!
So at this juncture I’d like to introduce our guest poster, the lovely Jessica McCarroll. Jess is the owner of First in Breast Dressed, one of the boutiques here at The Nursery Collective and her passion is “supporting Mumkind, one feed at a time”. She’s also a second-time Mum and we’ve asked her to share what she would have told her first-time Mum self about breastfeeding. We hope you enjoy her tips!
BREASTFEEDING: Tips from a second time Mum
"Firstly I would tell myself to stop and smell the roses and chill the fridge out! Hindsight is a wonderful thing and here are some of my hints and tips for breastfeeding success now that I’m a second-time Mum.
Milk doesn’t make milk. Water makes milk
There are many old wives’ tales out there about increasing your milk supply and believe me I’ve tried them all! I absolutely believe that Placenta pills (yes I had my placenta encapsulated), Lactation Cookies and Nursing Tea have helped my milk supply this time around. There is one thing that the experts all agree on, however, drink as much water as you can! Trick yourself into doing so by any means needed. For me, that meant ditching the bottled supermarket water and treating myself to an awesome re-usable drink bottle. The breastfeeding Mum needs more hydration than the average woman. The exact amount is up for debate, but as a general guide 3L per day is going to get you there. If you are dehydrated, it is much harder for your body to function including producing milk. So get drinking!
How easy does that sound? But really no matter how many times you have contorted yourself into every uncomfortable position known to man, the best way to get that milk flowing is to relax. Sitting up not your thing? Feed your bub in side lying. Feeding not going amazingly? Try reclining in your feeding chair or lounge and let bubba do the work. I have seen some amazing videos about the ‘breast crawl’. These little creatures that you now call your own will not willingly starve themselves and it is inherent in their nature to find the breast. Ever wondered why your areolas and nipples become darker? It is literally to help babies find their ‘target’. Laid back nursing or biological nurturing was always the most successful way for me to feed my first born. Remember this is a skill you are both learning together, it takes time, practice and above all patience.
Seek Professional Advice: STAT
Did you know there is a difference between a Lactation Consultant and an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)? I do, because I want to become one and my goodness there is a lot of work that goes into becoming an IBCLC. Entrust your breasts to the best! Explore your options, even if you are feeling house bound and unable to get to an appointment, some IBCLCs offer Skype consults. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In the same token damage to your nipples should be looked at ASAP. Use nipple cream and fresh air to help heal and pre – cooled hydrogel discs to ease the pain. Then book yourself into your local Women’s Health physiotherapist for laser treatment. Laser works by stimulating healing to the area, and can improve pain even after just one treatment. Most public hospitals have a Women’s Health physiotherapist, otherwise there are more and more private practices with Women’s Health as their specific focus.
From me to you, these are my top three pieces of breastfeeding wisdom."
As another second-time Mum I totally agree with the tips Jess has shared. The game changer for me was seeking professional help. I waited almost 6 weeks with my first, however with my second I saw an IBCLC at the hospital and organised a few follow ups in the first 2 weeks. Experimenting with positioning was also key – the rugby hold was my saviour in the early days and as my daughter got older she liked to sit on my lap legs astride and have both boobs on offer, having little sips between both until she got her full feed, the little monkey! I also had less mum-guilt the second time around and told myself that I wouldn’t beat myself up about it if we ended up bottle feeding and that in itself made things easier.
Jessica is offering all our readers a 10% discount on her fabulous products! Just enter TNC10 at check out. You can shop First in Breast Dressed HERE on the directory.
SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER TO RECEIVE JESSICA'S TOP 5 NEW BABY CHECKLIST: (available to all subscribers for one month from posting date)
I hope this blog post has given you some insight and I sincerely hope that you may be one of those lucky mums who has no problems at all and doesn’t feel one iota of pain! It is possible! But if you’re not, being prepared for what lies ahead is half the battle won, and both Jess and I wish you every success in your feeding journey.
Remember – Fed is Best, and a happy mummy equals a happy baby.
You can shop our Feeding Essentials section HERE