Breastfeeding is certainly an experience that it is difficult to feel totally ready for. These are some things I wished I had known beforehand.
Nursing bras, nursing tops, nipple cream. Get your equipment ready before you start. Leaks happen so get some breast pads. Reusables are a great option for the environment and often more comfortable.
Watch out for blocked ducts and mastitis
Both can be painful and mastitis can make you very ill. If you have a blocked duct try feeding with the baby’s chin in the direction of the blockage. Change sides regularly and make sure your bra is not too tight to try and avoid these problems.
It can be a bit awkward, but it’s usually not as bad as you expect
I was dreading breastfeeding in front of people but once you get on with it it’s really not so bad especially if you find the right clothes that work for you or use a scarf or blanket. Or just go for it if that is what you prefer! Legally you can breastfeed uncovered in public places so remember that if you feel under pressure to stop.
Breastfeeding might not last for the length of time that you had planned
Many of us have an age in mind that we hope to breastfeed until but things don’t always go to plan. Breastfeeding can be much harder to maintain than we imagine but equally it can be hard to stop when your baby won’t accept any alternatives.
It makes you really hungry and thirsty!
Do not sit down to feed without a drink!!!
It can be an amazing bonding experience
But so can bottle feeding, finding the perfect way to get them to sleep, bathing them. Loads of different experiences will help bonding so there’s no need to pin all your hopes on breastfeeding providing that.
There’s a good chance you’ll need help and it is available
I definitely felt a bit abandoned when I was moved onto the ward after having my first before I’d managed to feed her properly. If you can’t figure it out, ask for help but try not to panic. They’re not going to send you home without making sure the baby is being fed. Once you’re home your midwife or health visitor can direct you towards local support groups or charities such as laleche for extra support.
Cluster feeding is a thing
Just when you think you’ve settled in at home after returning from hospital your baby starts fussing and crying constantly for a whole night. Babies cluster feed at the beginning of a growth spurt so you will have more milk for them over the next few days. It’s totally fine and the baby isn’t starving!
You might need to develop a thick skin
A lot of people are going to have an opinion about what you’re doing. They probably mean well and have forgotten how much of a sensitive issue it can be so try not to take it to heart.
Change what you focus on depending on how it’s going
If it’s working for you, focus on all the health benefits you’ve heard about breastfeeding and give your self something to feel good about. If breastfeeding isn’t working, forget all the facts and figures and feel strong that you’re making a decision based on what is best for you both. Formula milk is absolutely fine so leave all the statistics behind and enjoy feeding your baby in the way that works for you.
Written by Mary Reay
A few of our lovely customers and their YummiNecklaces - designed to soothe fidgeting feeding babies.