8 things I know about breastfeeding

Posted on 21/06/2016 by Antenatal Online | Leave a Comment

Breastfeeding is an emotive subject and a difficult journey for many. For some of those who want to breastfeed but fall along the wayside, the stress and guilt can be immense. Itís true that parenting can be stressful and guilt inducing full stop. Will my child ever realise he has a bed in his own room? Is it acceptable to feed him peanut butter sandwiches twice a day every day for 3 years? Is 3 hours of CBeebies in one sitting considered child neglect? We all pretty much muddle through and make it up as we go along. However you canít really do that with breastfeeding.

Itís stressful and terrifying if you think your baby isnít getting enough milk and itís easy to blame yourself. Now, disclaimer! I am not a breastfeeding expert but there are things I have learnt along the way which as a new mum I would have liked to have known:

  • One of my friends once said `itís the most unnatural natural thing in the worldí. I kind of understand where she is coming from. My first took to it easily but I still felt I had no clue what I was supposed to be doing. My second was more of a challenge and I was affronted. Hello? You down there? Donít you realise I am old hand at this Ė why are you making me look bad? My midwife friend came around to check his latch which wasnít quite right. She said breastfeeding a second child is like starting a new job doing the same thing but for a different company. Excellent analogy but I still felt like I should already have known how to work the blasted photocopier;
  • Your babyís tummy starts off the size of a tiny marble. It canít hold much so she will be need to feed often. That is entirely normal and doesnít mean you arenít producing enough milk; In the early days and maybe weeks you will spend an awful lot of your time feeding but it does get easier;
  •  It might hurt a bit at the start even if you are getting it right. Not agonising pain but maybe a bit pinchy. Persevere, it should get easier;
  • I fed my first child anywhere and everywhere and, apart from the first time on a park bench in January when I practically froze my nipple off, it was all peachy. Then I launched this website and read horror stories about people being FORCED to feed their babies in the toilet and outraged flash mobs getting their boobs out in public. Oh dear. Naturally not one to want to cause offence I began to worry that I would be heckled in Starbucks. It didnít happen. So my advice is feed away. I did however find it soothing to have a few choice phrases on the tip of my tongue should I be required to be cutting, witty and assertive while having one boob on the loose;
  • Beware the tongue tie. I had never heard of tongue tie when I had my first child. No one had ever mentioned it to me but it can make breastfeeding difficult and is sometimes missed;
  • Sometimes it sucks! Ah yes, lovely, nurturing, peaceful breastfeeding. Yes well sometimes it just isnít. Sometimes you are tired and sore and you donít want a child kneading your boobs or fiddling about with your free nipple. I found breathing deeply and trying to remember my twelve times table helped;
  • There are such things as lactation consultants! I did not know this. A friend struggled for weeks only to find her latch was a tiny bit out but a whole host of midwives and health visitors had failed to spot it. Lactation consultants are extensively trained. Your local breastfeeding support group can also help;
  • A supportive partner makes a real difference. Just because your partner (should you have one) canít feed the baby it doesnít mean he cannot bond with her or should feel left out and abandoned. Bathing, cuddling, singing, rocking, cleaning up the poo and sick Ė there are no end of lovely bonding experiences to be.
Much of parenting involves phases, some stressful, some mundane and many delightful. For me breastfeeding was no different. At the end of the day, I knew that I was doing something amazing for my children. It was precious, exhausting, sometimes frustrating and utterly wonderful and I honestly wouldnít have missed it for the world.



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