I went to the breastfeeding workshop before I had my first baby, but, I’ve found there’s some things they just don’t let you in on in those classes. Here’s what I’ve learnt about breastfeeding that they don’t teach you in the workshops:
1. Cluster Feeding, every new mums nemesis
Your little Rascal could feed for 10 minutes or 3 hours!! There’s a dirty little secret, it sneaks up on you, with no warning, like a little milk guzzling ninja – Cluster Feeding! What is that about?!
Hours and hours and hours and hours and hours!
Well maybe not that long but it feels like you have been sat there feeding for all eternity. My first baby’s cluster feeding was a shock and was a solid 3 or 4 hours for a few days here and there. The Newbie would feed morning and evening for 3-4 hours each sitting, daily for the first 4 weeks.
Draining, boring, isolating and soul-destroying!!
All you can do is ride it out, with your feet up and catch up TV. TIP! Make sure you have a drink and your mobile phone to hand when you sit down to feed, I forget mine very time! But most of all do not beat yourself up about it. The fussing and non-stop feeding is nothing you are doing wrong and it’s not that you aren’t producing enough milk; babies have tiny belly’s and need to feed little and often to begin with, this is all part of increasing and regulating the milk supply. Go with it.
To support all this feeding the health visitor advises that you need to consume an extra 500 calories A DAY! You think – Result!! you get to eat loads of cake! It’s all great when you’re wolfing down the 3rd cupcake of the day at 9am; the health visitor said this is what I HAVE to do. Oranges, grapes, strawberries and most green veg gives the baby wind anyway.
This new diet does nothing for your post baby waistline. Your figure is the last thing you want to worry about post baby, but, after a few months of this high cake, low fruit diet your waist is actually larger than 2 hours after giving birth and so you start to question the balance.
You spend 75% of your day walking around with your bra straps undone and your t-shirt riding up your belly because you forgot to pull it down after a feed. Not a good luck when answering the door to the post man! Invest in some decent nursing tops, they really do the trick. NOTE, you do still need to tuck yourself in though, I never learn!
I didn’t really ever have a problem feeding in public, I’ve always felt a little bit like ‘go on i dare you’ to say something. I did feel slightly awkward on occasions when I felt like my nips were playing peek-a-boo. But this was basically my own fault as I was a right tightarse and didn’t buy any proper nursing clothes. I would usually be trying to conceal my dignity under a 3 quid scarf from Primark. This time round its much better, this is in part because I’ve bought some proper nursing tops. Who knew?! They are actually a fab bit of kit. I love my Bearsland tops. It’s so easy to pop yourself out and still be modestly covered. If you find yourself in the middle of the garden centre on the plant pot display shelf surrounded by foliage, no problem! Hook him straight up for his milk fix and no-one’s don’t the wiser. True story!!
4. Let down
Modesty sorted, the problem I have this time is let down. Jeeeeez, it’s like he’s being water boarded! It sprays all over the place. The advice is to lay back so the baby is nursing up hill. Tried this, and he just pulled his gorgeous little head away and the result was a glorious milk fountain. Although possibly mistaken for a water feature when in the garden centre, reclined whilst feeding in public is not the look I’m going for. Also trying to catch it in a cup before latching on isn’t always convenient when you’re out an about!!!
They say fast let down should sort itself at 3 months, but if you need help before then have a look at Kelly Mom website there are some great tips for managing fast let down and how to do block feeds if its doesn’t ease off. At 4 months mine still resembles a water pistol at times, decent breast pads and a mattress protector are a must; save your clothes and mattress from that lingering milk stench.
Another great tip that has worked its magic is using breast milk for clearing up babies gunky eyes. Both my babies had this in the first few weeks. Apparently it’s quite normal and a result of their tiny little tear ducts being blocked. The breast milk cleared it up within a few days. If in doubt get the eye checked by a doctor though.
Sooo fast let down aye, not so good for the gag reflex but great for eye infections!
5. Ask for Help!
There are so many great support groups out there, so if you are having any problems don’t struggle on alone! Breastfeeding definitely should not be excruciating or cause sores or cuts. I thought I’d be ok 2nd time round, but, I struggled with latch on one side and it was starting to hurt. The midwives were great at helping me when they visited us at home after the arrival of the Newbie.
The lady from West Herts Breastfeeders came and spoke to me on the ward at the hospital after I’d had the Newbie too. There are events being held all over the place that families can go along to, like family picnics. You can breastfeed amongst other mums. There are people on hand to offer support and answer questions. This way you can get your confidence up feeding in public surrounded by people who totally get it. Check out your local breastfeeding group or speak with your children’s centre for further help and advice.
The bonus: 6. Bittersweet
Enjoy those moments with your baby, it doesn’t last long and before you know it you’ll be weaning. For months you’ll be planning when you can go out with your pals. Oh how you are going to hit that dance floor and order every drink going. I’m starting with the prosecco, then on to the rum, followed by the shots! That is if I last that long.
BUT No-one warns you, how gut wrenching it is to stop! When you are doing your very last breastfeed before you put your little baby to bed for the night, you will feel oh so sad and a teensy bit guilty, because guilt – that’s what we do best! It’s ok to be sad! You have been on a journey the last few months. Getting to know each other, working it all out, special cuddles that no-one else experiences. It’s another milestone reached when your little baby becomes a little less baby. It’s hard to let go. Flaming sambucca anyone?
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