Charlie O'Brien Blog: Breastfeeding tips and tricks for new mums
With my due date for baby No.2 less than nine weeks away – my mind is consumed with washing stuff, stocking up on nappies, how my baby will enter the world and BREASTFEEDING.
I managed to feed my son, Noah, for almost 17 months.
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to preach about why everyone else should do it, or tell you that I found it easy. Because I didn’t. I also think you should choose what works for your family and situation.
So, as I prepare to become a mother again, here is a list of 10 things I learned about breastfeeding - they are all based on my own experience and is not medical advice.
1. Even if you don’t breastfeed to start – it can still happen: I’d read all about how important that first feed in the hospital was. And as soon as we were both ready I had midwives frantically shoving my tiny, disinterested baby at my boob. He was not interested in the slightest. He literally couldn’t be bothered to open his mouth. This rejection continued for days. So despite my best efforts he was cup fed with donor breast milk and formula. A really unhelpful midwife told me if I didn’t crack it soon I never would. I’d love to find her now and tell her how wrong she was.
2. Formula can HELP breastfeeding: Controversial in some circles, but it really helped us. Noah was only fed formula for the first three or four days of his life, but it was a lifesaver. It allowed me to work out what to do, get some rest, and research my options.
3. It can REALLY HURT: Experts say that breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt unless you’re doing something really wrong. I was clearly doing something really wrong! It was agony gor weeks. Poor latch and issues with Noah's neck after delivery meant we didn’t crack it for a good few weeks, and I had to bite down on a towel many, many times.
4. It does get easier: So many women ask me for breastfeeding advice and this is one thing I always say. I promise it gets easier. One day you suddenly realise you’re doing it with no pain or fuss and it feels like a massive achievement!
5. It helped get me back in my size 8 jeans: Not the case for everyone, and certainly not for me straight away. But as Noah went through growth spurts I’d literally notice the weight falling off me. I feel like I won’t be as lucky this time, but I’m not going to put pressure on myself (plus cake is a new mum’s best friend!)
6. It’s knackering: Breastfeeding can be hard, hard work. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding and your baby won’t take a bottle as mine didn’t from four months, all the pressure is on you. It can be tough and overwhelming. My tips are make sure the TV remote is always within reach and get other members of your household chip in and help with everything else while you’re stuck on the sofa. Oh and food and water is a must!
7. Breastfeeding in public can be daunting but it’s fine and it’s your right: If there’s one thing that makes me mad it’s the suggestion that a mother feeding her child in public can be in any way offensive. Breast, bottle or tube – when a child needs feeding, they need feeding. And legally you can breastfeed anywhere. At times I hid away in the car, or in dark corners with blankets draped over me. I won’t do that this time – and if anyone takes issue, they’ll have a hormonal mother to deal with!
8. A lactation consultant is worth every penny: I fed Noah using nipple shields for the first eight weeks until I was so fed up with them I was ready to quit feeding altogether. So I googled lactation consultants in my area and got a lovely lady round. It cost £60 for two hours and she literally taught me how to feed. I wish I’d got her earlier. If I have trouble this time – I’ll be calling her immediately.
9. There is such a thing as crying over spilled milk: If you’ve sat for hours feeling like a dairy cow, hooked up to a noisy pump, only to knock over your precious liquid gold – you’ll know what I’m talking about.
10. Stopping is emotional: At almost 17 months I was ready to stop. He was ready to stop. We were all ready to stop. But I still cried for two whole weeks. I missed the closeness, the routine, the time with him where he couldn’t run away from me. But gradually the sadness faded and was replaced with new joys.
Where to get breastfeeding support in Kent