I’m not going to preach to you about why you should breastfeed your baby over formula feeding. I’ve had two children, as much as I wanted to enjoy breastfeeding with my first baby, after two months it simply didn’t work out. We moved her onto formula feeding and she grew into a perfectly healthy little girl who is now five and has never been to the doctor for anything other than vaccinations or check ups.
We’re now on daughter number two. We’re 7 and a half months in and breastfeeding is just a way of life for us at the moment. After two weeks of the initial painful ‘sting’ that occurs when your boobs adjust to having a small being attached to them every 10 minutes, we both took to it like ducks to water.
So why did it work out the second time and not the first? Well, there were fundamental things that I did differently that I’ll mention a little later. But I found that in my instance, preparation and knowledge went a long way in getting it to work.
I’m not going to beat around the bush about this. Breastfeeding in the beginning is a difficult, painful, full on 24/7 job. My boobs were in a lot of pain. Not only from the latch, or the bee sting latch as I thought of it but also the painful let down (when the glandular tissue in the breasts release the milk towards the ducts). Also the full heavy boobs and the niagara falls milk flow on my clothing that would occur often throughout the day. But, this was all momentary, as each day passed things absolutely got easier.
After a few weeks the bee sting latch started to disappear and the niagara fall leaks reduced. All I began to feel, was the relaxing release of oxytocin and the bond between my baby and I really take place. I could now hold her in my arms and not think about when the pain would go away, but rather be extremely proud, for continuing to support this precious life as I had done for 9 months in the womb. She was growing beautifully before my eyes and all her nutrition was from me. Each time we fed, we would both feel the love. Her soft little hand would be placed upon my chest, her gaze would be locked on me and in those moments I felt completely serene. If I could bottle that feeling and sell it….I’ve not once had a day where I’ve felt ‘the baby blues’ as nature has given me the best anti depressant you can get.
Now we’re on a roll. It’s so bloody convenient! Formula was such a pain in the bum with my first baby. There was nothing more annoying than preparing a bottle in the middle of the night. When we go out I don’t have to worry about how many feeds I’ll need or keeping the milk at a certain temperature. If she needs to feed she gets fed. We got a breastfeeding shawl as I’m not as brave as some mums out there who just whip the boob out. But these shawls can be so stylish. I’ve not had to buy loads of breastfeeding tops, I wear my normal clothes, stretchy or flowy tops work best though. At night I wake up she feeds, she goes back to sleep and so do I. No kettles, machines, spilt powder or running the bottle under a tap to get it cool. I know this time around there’s a machine that will prep your bottle at the right temperature, but that would still need cleaning right? Can’t. Be. Bothered! I need an easy life being a mum of two whose husband works away, breastfeeding is now the easiest thing in the world.
Does is stop me having my own life I hear you say?
I’m going to be honest, I’m pro natural for everything. Breastfeeding, for me was the right choice for us. My life hasn’t stopped. I still have fun, I go out, I see people and I have a glass of wine from time to time. And, it’s not forever. Everything is momentary, the time will come when my boob will stay put and she’ll drink her milk from a cup. She’s already reached 7 months in the blink of an eye. Yes, I planned to breastfeed her until 6 months but the both of us ended up having other ideas. We have both benefited in more ways than simply providing nutrition. It’s been magical….
My tips for making breastfeeding work.
This is how I made it work second time round. Of course other mums will have different methods, but I didn’t do a lot of these the first time around so I never truly recovered from my babies latch and the bee sting pain continued for two months. You may be lucky and not need to do any of things I suggest but if it helps one lovely mama out there my job is done.
- As soon as that baby has finished taking their first feed and you’re ready to get dressed, use breast shells and continue using them in between feeds. Breast shells are small plastic cups that fit over the nipple in your bra. They allow air to get to the nipple so they can heal from stretching. I used Dr browns but there are many makes available. The key is not to let cloth touch your nipples after feeding. I used them for around 2/3 weeks post birth. They also collect leaking milk which can help prevent the niagra fall marks on your clothes and the milk collected inside the shell soothes your nipple which is full of antibodies and healing properties!
- Check your babies latch! Remember; Bottom lip sticking out! I really didn’t pay enough attention to this with my first baby, and consequently, I believe this is a huge reason I didn’t heal properly. If my second babies bottom lip was tucked inward I’d use my little finger to prize it outward. You can ask a breastfeeding councillor for advice about this or a midwife but they’re not always going to be there at every feed so check every time in those early weeks. This is a matter of make or break!
- I used nipple shields every other feed in first few weeks, they helped with the sting. There is controversy around using these as some say the cause nipple confusion. The midwife questioned me over it. But I will say if I hadn’t of used them there probably wouldn’t have been a nipple available to be confused over at all. My thoughts are if it helps in a positive way then go for it. Listen to your instincts.
- I read ‘The womanly art of breastfeeding’ by the La Leche Legue international (LLLI). Ok cheesey title. But this book gave me a wealth of knowledge, from latching to comfortable positions in which to feed.
What did I buy?
- Breast shells.
- Nipple shields.
- Several stretchy tops and comfortable nursing bras 4 or 5 of each. I took spares when I left the house in case of a niagara falls incident.
- A comfortable sleeping/nursing bra.
- Several boxes of nursing pads, I wore them on top of the breast shell to collect spills. I took spares with me wherever I went.
- A nursing shawl. I got a great one by Bebe au Lait. It has an over the head attachment so it’s more like an apron. It means I can feed discreetly wherever I go.
Seven months in and breastfeeding has become second nature. The shells, shields and nursing pads are no longer needed as my body has become well and truly accustomed to feeding. Breastfeeding has been a great journey for both of us and for now, will continue until we’re both ready to stop in a few months or so.
Whatever you decide to do though, a happy mum makes a happy baby, so go with your instincts. If you do decide to breastfeed I wish you every success and hope you have as wonderful a journey as I am doing with my baby at this moment, please let me know how you get along in the comments section as I’d love to hear from you 😊