I have been breastfeeding our second baby for two weeks now, and so far it is going well. Our first experience of breastfeeding our daughter was a very different picture with weight loss issues, and just doing it in the first place.
This time round I am breastfeeding our son every hour or so during the day, plus he is having two bottles of formula (one at lunchtime and one before bed), so we’re not exclusively breastfeeding this time round. He is one hungry boy or a compulsive snacker. Having learned a lot from my first born, and gained advice from midwives etc, I wanted to make our breastfeeding journey for him as easy as possible.
I’ll be honest here the first few weeks of breastfeeding are hard. You will feel like you’re constantly doing it and never putting your baby down, or you’ll start to feel like a human cow. So here are my top tips for getting through the first few grueling weeks of breastfeeding.
Create quiet time to bond with your baby
Enjoy the cuddles in bed whilst you rest and recover from childbirth. Use this time to get used to breastfeeding and for your baby to learn as well. Remember your baby also doesn’t know how to do it so it’s a learning experience for you both. Two weeks down the line our little man is still having a few latch issues, but we will get there eventually.
Have support around you
That could be your partner, family members or friends. Breastfeeding takes time, and you could find yourself marooned on the sofa for hours and hours. So make sure that you have someone who can bring you a drink of water, or even better a cup of tea and a piece of cake. Breastfeeding is thirsty and hungry work, and it’s vital that you keep up your energy.
Have a tote bag or box to hand with all your supplies in
You will find yourself settled in the same spot for hours and hours, and one of my top tips is to keep all your essential supplies in a bag that you can easily transport around the house and stays with you whilst you feed. This could include a bottle of water, your phone, your phone charger, a book, some snacks and nipple cream. Also it’s good to have the TV remote to hand before you get settled to avoid being stuck watching something totally mind numbing when the remote is on the other side of the room.
Manage your expectations
You baby may feed pretty frequently, it could be every 45 minutes or so. You’ll find that she or he will feed a lot in the early days as they work to boost your supply. Accept that. A breastfed baby is not on a timetable, and they will want to be breastfed whenever they are hungry or need comforting, so it’s best to be mentally prepared for lots of feeds that could happen during the day or during the night. Currently my son is having three feeds during the night, which I’m ok with as he settles back down quickly after. I’m praying that the 4 month sleep regression doesn’t hit us.
Invest in good quality nursing bras
I have a few from M&S and H&M. To be honest I find the M&S ones the best for comfort, whereas the H&M ones just dig in at the sides. It’s also good to get some night nursing bras as well that are seamless to avoid a daytime nursing bra digging in at your sides whilst you sleep. It might seem like an expense buying these for a short period of time, but you will definitely need them and they will make life a lot easier for feeding.
Don’t feel bad if you’re struggling
Breastfeeding is hard, and if you’re struggling there is so much support around you. You could attend a breastfeeding cafe in your area, or seek advice from the NCT or online. It’s best to seek support and be informed before giving up. However if you do decide to stop breastfeeding or start combi-feeding for whatever reason, remember that decision is yours, it is no-one elses, and don’t feel bad about it.
Make sure you have all the kit
You will need breast pads, a pump and nipple cream. I’ve been fortunate this time round and not had the need to really use the pump or nipple cream. However with my first born they were used a lot to help my sore nipples and to boost my supply. It is also vital that you buy and stock up on breast pads, this is to avoid your clothes getting soaked when you feed from one boob, and also to avoid getting soaked at night if you’re boobs decide to leak.
I hope that this doesn’t happen to you, but you may find that you receive criticism for deciding to breastfeed. If you do, ignore it and carry on. Like I said earlier it is no-one elses decision, but yours. If you do get the unlikely stare when breastfeeding in public, again ignore it. Please don’t worry about this as no one bats an eyelid at all. It does help when breastfeeding in public to be with other mums who
So those are my top tips for getting through the first few weeks of breastfeeding. It is tough, but once you and your baby have mastered it, it should be relatively straightforward, pain-free and convenient. Just remember that after six weeks of feeding, your milk supply should be established and hopefully you are winning at this. But if you’re having trouble producing enough milk supply, you could try taking lactation supplements.
Are you a new mum and breastfeeding? I would love to hear your top tips for getting through the first few weeks.