Breastfeeding Cherry and Tiger was honestly one of the best experiences of my life, it was basically all I did for the first year of both their lives and if we don’t have anymore children then I would be really sad about not being able to do it all again. I breastfed Cherry for 18 months and Tiger for 12 months and strangely although it felt easier to start with second time round I actually ended up with a lot more breastfeeding related problems like blocked ducts.
I think the first six months are definitely the hardest but if you can get past them then all of a sudden it becomes much more enjoyable. Once babies are bigger they feed a lot quicker, can latch themselves on and them being able to interact a lot more means it can be a really fun experience. I have so many memories of them laughing whilst also breastfeeding.
Here are some of my breastfeeding tips for new mums or expectant mums planning to breastfeed.
During pregnancy build up a good collection of scarves. They are amazing when breastfeeding. They are fab for covering up when feeding as they are so lightweight, they are useful for mopping up milk spillage if you don’t have a muslin to hand and I also used mine as lightweight blankets, they smell of you so babies like them.
Stock up on lots of maternity bras. It is normal to leak A LOT in those first few months and there is nothing worse than discovering all your bras are crusty (they do actually go crusty when the milk dries). Even if you don’t leak that much, you will probably find that sometimes your let down will be a bit fast for your baby and they will end up dribbling milk out the opposite side of their mouth during feeds which drenches through your bra / vest / top.
Buy a mattress protector. If your baby misses a feed in the night then you will no doubt end up soaked in milk. My old mattress had a massive stain from where this had happened when Cherry was a baby. It had literally leaked through the duvet, mattress and all my clothes.
Practice and find a way you can successfully get your boob out before feeding in public for the first time. I usually unclip my bra from the top, have a vest on top that I lift my boob over the top of then have another top that I lift up. This means that my tummy is covered, the top of my boob is covered and I then use my scarf to cover anything else until I feel comfortable. There is only a split second that you would be able to see my nipple and even then you would have to be staring which no-one should be doing anyway if they don’t want to see anyone breastfeeding. Of course you don’t have to be that careful but it’s about whatever makes you feel comfortable and if that’s by doing it discreetly then it is possible with a bit of practice.
Always have a drink to hand. Every time they latched on I would get hit with an extreme feeling of thirst and if you are pinned to the sofa then it’s hard to go and get a drink. Although second time round getting up with a baby attached to your boob does become a lot easier!
Have lots of snacks around. I get dizzy and shaky if I don’t eat regularly and with a baby it can be hard to prepare meals on time so sometimes you need to grab something. Obviously the healthier the better but some of my favourites are breadsticks and Philadelphia or cereal bars / flapjacks (oats are good for milk supply).
Watch out for tight tops cutting off part of your boob. As I mentioned above I suffered from blocked ducts a lot with Tiger and they are horrible, luckily I caught them early so they never turned into full on mastitis but I know that I brought it on myself from wearing tops that were too tight or from Tiger not feeding properly in the night. If you do notice your boob feeling bruised and painful then have a hot bath and massage all around the painful area. Take some paracetamol and put something hot on it. Obviously if it keeps getting worse then go to the doctor. I went to see my GP and he gave me a homeopathic remedy which worked really well and meant I didn’t have to take anti-biotics. Here is some helpful information on blocked ducts.
Be prepared to sit around, a lot. It can be hard to get much done, especially during those first few weeks or when they are having a growth spurt. If it’s your first then enjoy the time. Read books or watch films, or start a blog! That’s what I did. Second time round if you have a young child already then make sure you have something to keep them entertained at the same time. I actually loved the fact that when Mr C was home I got out of doing anything because I had to just sit on the sofa and feed Tiger.
Stock up on breastpads. Whether you are using washable ones or disposable ones, you will need a lot!
Always have a tube of Lanisoh to hand. I have read some articles saying that it’s not actually that good for various reasons but I always found it helped me no end when my nipples were cracked. It can stay on while your baby is feeding and gives relief for a long time so it is a pretty essential product in those first few weeks. I didn’t use it last time but I think I would try coconut oil if I had any more babies, it has so many uses! There is thread on using it here and if you Google it then you can find more information.
It’s normal for babies to prefer one side. When Cherry and Tiger were newborns they fed from both sides but as they got older they clearly preferred one more than the other and both times it was my right boob. It’s quite normal to not produce the same amount of milk on both sides and my right boob is noticeably bigger so it obviously produced more milk hence why they preferred it. With Cherry I kept trying to get her to feed from both but with Tiger I stopped quite early and he just fed from one side.
Lastly I would add that when it comes to stopping the best way is to do it really gradually, when you stop you will have a huge drop in all the happy hormones that flow through your body when breastfeeding and it can affect you in the same way being pre-menstrual does, I found it was worse actually. For about a month or so until they had balanced out I was angry and emotional. Obviously if you can get it down to 1 feed a day before you stop then it won’t be quite so noticeable as going from 8 feeds a day to nothing. I found by doing it gradually I didn’t really notice my boobs (well boob) feeling full either as it wasn’t really producing much milk anymore.
So those are my breastfeeding tips, do you have any to add?
If you are interested in more of my breastfeeding posts then I will link a few below.
This one is called ‘Why Breastfeeding Isn’t Like Going To The Toilet’ and I wrote it in response to the comments that were made on Loose Women about it.
Then this one is about breastfeeding when your baby is no longer a baby and it’s about how things changed for us when I was still breastfeeding Cherry past the age of six months.
This is the story of when and how I stopped breastfeeding Tiger, and my guilt and not doing it for as long as with Cherry.