Breastfeeding: The Best Advice I Was Given

by - March 29, 2020

When discussing how I was planning to feed Axel through my pregnancy, I'd always say the same thing: 'I'd like to try to breastfeed, but if I can't I'm okay with giving him formula.' Which was true! I honestly wasn't fussed either way and I'd never been a stickler for 'breast is best.' In my opinion, it isn't. A happy, healthy, feed baby is always best, whichever way you decide to feed them. 

After saying that exact sentence to our midwives as I was in labour, they made sure to try their best to help us get the best start with breastfeeding, and luckily for us, it worked! There was a lot of trial and error, a lot of tears and pain, but in the end, we made it and honestly, I don't think we would have if it wasn't for all the help and advice! So I thought it might be helpful to pass that advice on to anyone starting, or about to start their breastfeeding journey.




Talk to other breastfeeding mums

I’m super lucky to be surrounded by mums that are or have breastfeed their babies and so have a wealth of knowledge on tap. If you’re in the same position, don’t be afraid to ask them for guidance and advice. It’s one thing having a midwife tell you how to hold baby and get them to latch comfortably, but it’s something entirely different to have someone you can vent to that can say ‘yeah I remember that! Try this.’ It completely normalises any doubts or worries and you end up understanding the process a whole lot faster! 

If you don’t have that support on tap, try seeing if you have any breastfeeding support mum groups in your area (ask your health visitor! They’re another wealth of knowledge for you!) and look for groups on Facebook. Mums supporting mums is my new favourite thing.

Get your latch checked

One of the only pros to staying in the hospital for a few days after having Axel, was having midwives around whenever I wanted them to help me out and give me advice. I cannot tell you enough, don't worry about asking too many times! If you were to look at our doctors notes, it's hilarious how many times it says 'checked babies latch at mothers request.' Not once did they complain, act like I was being over cautious or worried. They're there to give you the help and advice you need! I started this journey feeling like I really couldn't do it, and at one point said to a midwife 'should I just give him some formula?' to which she replied, 'nope! you're both learning, annoyingly it doesn't come as naturally as everyone expects it to, for you or baby, lets take some time and get this sorted.' by the time we were ready to leave the hospital, I had his latch down! Admittedly my nipples were already super sore from all the failed attempts but with perseverance and the help of the midwives, we got there in the end!

Having issues? Talk to a lactation specialist

If after everything, you're still having issues, talk to a lactation specialist. The easiest way you can find your local specialist is to ask your health visitor. They'll be able to advice you further and diagnose any other issues - such as tongue ties - to help you be as successful as possible on your breast feeding journey. I was lucky that we didn't have to result to a specialist. But they're there for a reason, it's their job to help you with feeding your baby and they'll do what they can to make you both comfortable.





Cluster feeds suck

I couldn't say this more if I tried, they really suck. When Axel went through his first spout of cluster feeding, I felt like it wouldn't ever end. All he'd want was to be on me, which meant Alex, the pugs and sleep all had to fall to the wayside. It was constant, but he was only doing whats natural. Babies cluster feed to let your body know it needs to produce more milk. Pure and simply, your baby is growing, so is their stomach capacity and they aren't being satisfied with the same amount of milk anymore. Cluster feeds usually last around two days, if you have any concerns, talk to a professional.  I found the first set of cluster feeds really difficult since I'd only learnt a position that we were both comfortable with while sitting up, so it felt like I wasn't getting to rest. Now I just feed him while were both laying on our sides, he can feed til he is content and I can rest my eyes. We've managed to do this since he was around two months so it doesn't take long to find a technique that works for you both.

If you substitute with formula, you haven't failed

At the beginning, I was creamed. Giving birth really sucks all the energy you have, and then you have  a tiny human that is 100% relying on you to keep them alive. It's tiring. It's difficult, especially with your hormones all over the place and emotions running high, but it's important to remember that you're still human too, and rest is something you still need. About two weeks in, I caved. It was just after Axel had stopped cluster feeding and I just couldn't handle anymore. My nipples were still recovering from an incorrect latch at the beginning and I was so tired, I could barely see. So I made up a bottle of formula, and Alex fed him while I felt like a complete failure and sobbed at the end of our bed. It was horrible, and definitely not a highlight, but as I said at the start of this post: breast isn't always best, a happy, healthy feed baby is. so if you substitute with formula to give yourself a break - and get dad more involved - you haven't failed at all!

Don't give up

Breastfeeding is hard. There's no denying that. Which seems bizarre if it's something your body is made to do! It's completely normal to struggle, cry and want to throw in the towel, but don't! If breastfeeding is something you really want to do, keep at it! Of course it doesn't always work out for everyone, and it might not be for you at all, but if you're set on breastfeeding, try to power through. frustration and teething pains are normal, you're learning something completely new on top of everything else that comes with a brand new tiny baby. Just try to remember that and cut yourself some slack, if baby is happy and healthy and you're doing your best, that's all you need to do!





Now I've given you all the advice I can, I thought I'd also add some products that I couldn't live without!






Lanolin:



Ahhhh Lanolin, how I love thee! I can not recommend this stuff enough. A little really goes a long way, I’ve got tubes on my bedside, in my changing bag and in my changing caddy downstairs. It’s great to have close by to apply straight after a feed to help soothe and repair sore nipples. Trust me on this, if you’re breastfeeding you need lanolin! 







A good nursing bra... or 4:

Before falling pregnant, I was buying any pretty lace underwear sets that caught my eye. I was all about form over function. But now, that has completely changed! Sure, there’s something about a beautiful set of lingerie that’ll make you quietly confident, but when easy access is the aim of the game, those sets aren’t always the most functional. Make way for the nursing bra!

I got mine from M&S and let me tell you, they are the most comfortable bras I have ever owned! When your milk comes in your boobies can feel crazy heavy, so you need all the support you can get. They’re ‘heavy duty’ with a super easy access clip to make it easy to pop a boob out for a feed. A nursing bra might seem like a no brainier but I couldn’t recommend getting a good quality one enough. And on top of that, go for a bra fitting!!! M&S offer bra fitting appointments in store (try to pre-book so you know you’ll definitely get the help you need) which is great since your chest size can change drastically after birth. I took my mum along who looked after Axe while I took some time trying on different fits and sizes before I found the perfect ones for me and grabbed a bunch. I wear them every day... and most nights (I swap between these and sports bras in bed) and I honestly think they’ve made my whole breast feeding experience easier.





                                                       Breast pads:




Ready for TMI?! The one time I tried sleeping without a bra, I woke up thinking I’d peed the bed... I hadn’t I’d just leaked milk everywhere in my sleep! It’s crazy how much milk you can leak and these little guys are great for saving you the embarrassment of leaking in public. They’re basically sanitary towels for your bra, and a total must have in my books!




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