Breastfeeding is always a hot topic and everybody and their aunty has an opinion about it! It’s the most natural thing in the world and if serves not only to give your baby the best nutrients nature intended but also enriches the connection between mother and baby. I can’t see that my connection with my children would have been as strong if I hadn’t breastfed them.
When I became pregnant with my first baby I was determined to breastfeed. Not having a single friend or relative that had breastfed to give advice was my first hurdle. So my first port of call was the internet, I read everything and anything I could to get myself clued up about how, when, why, where… Then during the latter stage of my pregnancy I went to a “class” and boy was I glad I did because the midwife corrected all the misconceptions I had picked up from the big bad internet!
I felt confident going towards my due date that it would be easy peasy and like riding a bike. My firstborn was born 3 weeks early and had severe jaundice which meant we had to stay in hospital for 6 days with light therapy and as she was too weak to feed we were tube feeding. The crucial element to ridding the jaundice is fluids, and lots of them! Again I was extremely naïve thinking as soon as she was born I would be able to pop her on and my milk would magically appear… it took three days!, and in that time she desperately needed fluids to ease the jaundice. So this was hurdle number 1; I had to give her formula. Gutted was an absolute understatement. Although the colostrum (first milk) was there, she was too weak to get it herself so I had to hand express for the first two days and syringe feed her this. On the second day I used the hospital grade Medela expressing machine to try and help my milk come faster so that she wouldn’t have to have anymore formula. This was hurdle number two; I got religious about that machine every 3 hours, day and night! Ten minutes on each side and I wasn’t giving up, I became a obsessed crazy momma bear willing my milk to come. At one point I broke down as I looked over at my precious little bundle under the light therapy and a tube hanging from her nose just wanting so badly to give her the nutrients that were best for her. So I had a good ole cry, then gave myself a talking to, picked myself up and got on with it. Then day three came! Wow! Three hourly pumping day and night paid off… my milk came in, and boy did it come in! for the next 2 days I was pumping enough and able to take her off the formula completely. This was the best gift anybody could have given me. I was also trying her on my breast at each feed and she began to take a little.
Because of the jaundice, I had to feed her religiously every three hours even if she was sleeping. Waking her up was extremely challenging because she slept A LOT! I also had to try her at my breast then top her up with a bottle thereafter. This created another worry in my mind, that she wouldn’t take to my breast. I longed more than anything for her to take her milk directly from me; I had never been maternal and even thought that I wouldn’t ever have children when I was in my late teens/early twenties; I now was in new momma overdrive and wanted to be the best mother she could possibly have, a complete turnaround from my old self who never even thought about how I would have fed my baby if I had any.
Day six in hospital came and the doctor finally said she was well enough that we can take her home. I was over the moon! There was only so much hospital you can take in your life… as the saying goes, there is no place like home! We soon settled into a routine of expressing at home (I had already bought a Medela pump because I had planned to pump and feed by bottle while out and about)
So, the expressing and bottle feeding continued for some weeks until she was strong enough take directly from my breast and I was ecstatic! I was the happiest momma bear around. In the coming months, she more than made up for not taking directly from me, we fed on demand and she was very demanding! At around 14 weeks she then completely rejected the bottle and opted solely for my breast.
As you can see breastfeeding is not a walk in the park at first, but it is the most rewarding thing as a parent that you can do for your baby.
I have compiled some commonly asked questions with their answers below.
I hope that you are inspired from my first breastfeeding experience, If you have any questions or comments please feel free 😊
SOME COMMON QUESTIONS
WHAT POSITION SHOULD I USE?
There are lots of different positions for breastfeeding, find one that is comfortable for you and your baby. However there are some general principles:
Are your baby’s head and neck in a straight line?
If not, your baby might not be able to swallow easily.
Are you holding your baby close to you?
Support his neck, shoulders and back. He should be able to support his head and back easily, and he shouldn’t have to reach out to feed.
Is your baby’s nose opposite to your nipple?
This helps your baby to get a big mouthful of breast from underneath the nipple.
CAN MY BABY HAVE A PACIFIER?
Try not to give a pacifier before breastfeeding is established – usually around a month.
Babies who have a pacifier sometimes find it difficult to remember how to attach to Momma’s breast and if they are hungry it is best to let them feed so milk is produced for their needs.
HOW CAN DADS AND PARTNERS HELP?
Dads and partners can support by repositioning to your baby’s needs for love, comfort and security.
Go to antenatal or breastfeeding sessions. Some sessions are organised especially for dads. Ask your health care professional for further details. Learning the same information and discussing it together can be helpful, especially in the early days when everything is very new and may sometimes feel overwhelming.
WHAT ABOUT SMOKING?
Nicotine passes into breast milk. However, the benefits of breastfeeding and smoking are still greater than formula feeding.
WHY SHOULD I BREASTFEED?
Momma’s milk gives your baby all the nutrients he or she needs for the first 6 months of life. It helps to protect your baby from infection. It also reduces Momma’s chanced of getting some illnesses later in, such as breast cancer. Breastfeeding also helps you and your baby to get closer – physically and emotionally.
HOW SOON CAN I BREASTFEED?
Holding your baby against your skin straight after birth will calm your baby. It will also steady his breathing and help to keep him warm. This is a great time to start your first breastfeed because your baby will be alert and will want to feed in the first hour after birth. Your health care professional can help.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I FEED MY BABY?
Responding to your baby will keep him happier if you have him close to you and feed him whenever he is hungry. This will remind your body to produce enough milk. You can also feed your baby if he is upset to calm and soothe as you cannot over-feed your baby. You can also choose to feed if your breasts become full or just to spend some time together.
HOW LONG CAN I STORE EXPRESSED BREAST MILK?
WHAT ABOUT PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS?
Some medications are not suitable to take whilst breastfeeding. If you are prescribed a medicine by your doctor, please discuss that you are breastfeeding and ask for and alternative if it is not suitable.
WHEN WILL I STOP BREASTFEEDING?
You can feed your baby for any length of time. You do not need to give your baby anything else for the first 6 months of life.
You can continue after this if you wish. The World Health Organisation advices breastfeeding infants till 2 years of age, however it is your choice how long you breastfeed for.
WILL MY BREASTS GET SAGGY?
It is pregnancy and ageing, not breastfeeding that affects the shape and size of your breasts.