I remember when I was pregnant with my eldest, attending my NCT classes and learning about breastfeeding. Techniques, the important of it, making sure I tried and I knew in my mind I really did want to breastfeed. However, I also knew there was a huge difference wanting to breastfeeding and being able to succeed at breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is such an emotive topic and this is something I have learnt since being a Mother and definitely since becoming more involved in the blogging world. Ultimately not everyone wants to or manages to breastfeed and after seeing some of the distress it can cause, when new Mums are struggling, I am firmly in the “fed is best” and “happy Mummy, happy baby” camps.
I know not all Mums will succeed at breastfeeding with all the will and tips in the world and that’s ok. I still remember begging my husband to go and get some formula for my eldest, as she relentlessly fed time and time again on her second night at home. This didn’t last forever of course but when you are exhausted and overwhelmed; feeling like your life will never be the same again, you just can’t see this. All you can see is no sleep, never having any time to yourself and really sore boobs. I remember sobbing myself to sleep on day 5, post-partum; my hormones changing and my milk coming in. I thought I would never stop crying but turned out that night she slept a little longer and so did my husband and I. This was a little turning of a corner for us and I carried on breastfeeding.
Succeed at Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding my eldest in the early days was tough. I can’t sugar-coat it. She wasn’t as eager as her baby sister and brother, who both latched on like they were born to breastfeed. I remember after my middley was born, she fed for an hour! I couldn’t believe it.
My eldest was different. She didn’t always latch properly and I ended up with a cracked nipple. It took time, patience and effort and a lot of support.
I succeeded and this is how, when I look back.
– Get your partner on board from Day 1. This may go without saying for many couples but it is important your partner is ready to support you through those early days. My husband basically did the majority of nappy changes. He brought me snacks and drinks when I was chained to the sofa cluster feeding. My Mum was the same too. This really helped, as eating and drinking so important when you constantly feeding.
– Good nutrition and hydration are so important as I alluded to above! You recovering. You are exhausted. You will feel even worse if not eating and drinking enough. Dehydration can make you feel tired and sluggish, so every time I fed, I would have a glass of water or squash too. It is not a time to think about losing weight in those early days but I think breastfeeding for me melted the baby pounds.
See here for healthy snack ideas.
See here for a strawberry and raspberry smoothie recipe I used when breastfeeding.
– Share out the night duties if you can. My hubby again would get up and do nappies and then pass to me to feed. If you have someone who’s got your back and in the same boat as you, it helps!!
– Ask for help. This maybe speaking to your midwife in the early days or looking around for local support groups and breastfeeding cafes. They can help with latching, positioning the baby to feed and general tips. I didn’t need this but I know many who did attend and also made friends to boot. You may need to ask your friends and family to help, especially if you already have a child or just so you can have a sleep!
– Rely on your Mum friends. I went to NCT classes and during the first year, this really helped to bounce ideas off each other and moan and rant when you have a bad day. You need someone who is going through the same struggles or remembers it clearly.
– Really try not to worry about chores, the house…anything like that! It’s hard if you like a clean house but as soon as you forgot that and just snuggle on the sofa, feeding with Netflix, life does feel a little better!!
– Consider co-sleeping. I was so against this with my first baby girl and to be fair we didn’t co-sleep with her but the little man slept with me for 6 months! It was the only way I could survive. He fed every 2 hours. I could pretty much shove a nipple into his mouth and go back to sleep. The Lullaby Trust have some information here on safe sleeping with your baby.
– Keep repeating the positives of breastfeeding like a mantra! My hubby did that loads. Good for the baby obviously first. Maybe only the odd bottle if your pump or mix feeding, so less time sterilising and prepping bottles. So easy to whip a boob out and calm down your baby. Cheaper!! It helps!
– Consider pumping some milk and seeing if your baby will take a bottle. My little man had to take formula when I had a stomach bug but he was used to a bottle, so this really helped! I have friends who babies always took the odd bottle of pumped milk. This meant a break or even a date night!
Breastfeeding is not easy. Even for me when my second and third children fed so easily, there were days and nights I wanted to quit. You don’t get that break as easily. My gym visits were rushed and on the clock. It was only me who could ever soothe my eldest and she fed so much!!!
However, I’m so proud to have managed to succeed at breastfeeding all three of my children and I hope some of my tips help you to succeed to!