You hear a lot about judgement of breastfeeding mummies; horror stories of being told to cover up, asked to feed in toilets and being ostracised by society. There are huge campaigns to normalise breasfeeding which is a great thing, however I have to say I have never once felt judged for feeding my child until I started to bottle feed.
So this is definitely the beginning of the end of our breastfeeding journey. Henry will be 21 weeks at the weekend and he is just too hungry. After a horrendous few days last month when he was latched for 17 hours in 24 and still upset, over the past few weeks in addition to his bedtime bottle, we have been introducing bottles at the times which will become his meals: 9am, 1pm and 5pm. What I have as a result is a much happier baby, I can only assume because he’s not as hungry anymore. This has of course has had a dramatic impact on my supply to the point where he doesn’t actually feed from me any more, just nurses for comfort. Which is fine but I have a feeling that over the next week or so that too will stop as he’s during that time started to enjoy a dummy for comfort and sleeping.
Rosie from over at Everything’s Rosie and George is doing an amazing series at the moment on newborn feeding and I wanted to get involved by writing about my own journey so far. I recommend you also head over there (once you are finished here of course) and take a look.
Newborns though….that wonderful time from birth to 12 weeks which most mamas wish away in a guilt filled, sleep deprived haze. One that at the time you truly believe is going to last forever.
Currently on newborn number two, my little man is now 8 weeks. He has a big sister who is turning 2 later this month so I kind of knew what to expect in the newborn feeding department….I say kind of because not matter how much or how well you THINK you remember, nothing quite prepares you again for those newborn nights!! I’ve fed both my babies myself, and introduced one bottle a day early on with each for flexibility and so hubby could get involved. I’d love to say this decision was due to some of the wonderful health benefits but the truth is that I’m too lazy to deal with the sterilising….plus they do say it’s the best start so I thought I’d give it a go (who ‘they’ are I have no idea!).
With my daughter breastfeeding had a difficult start as she was born via emergency section after a traumatic 30 hour labour which meant my milk did not fully come in for 5 days. Added to a tongue tie that was snipped at 3 days old, her latch to begin with was so so painful. Those first few weeks I took one day at a time but the promise I made to myself was to not quit out of emotion, so somehow I always got to the end of the day and always gave it “just one more”. Before I knew it she was 6 weeks old and everything was so much easier. This was the stage we introduced a bottle and hubby started to give the last feed of the evening to give me a head start on sleep! All in all we did about 6 months before moving fully over to bottle when I returned to work.
Regardless of the rocky start, the overall success first time round meant that I did not doubt that I would breastfeed my son as well, and I’m pleased to say technically this time it has been so much easier: no pain and great weight gains. I say technically though because this time I have a toddler too who has an abundance of energy and needs entertaining – in comparison what a newborn loves to do is cluster feed. With her I could sit for hours on the sofa if I needed to; I only had one child. Whereas now I don’t have that luxury. This fact alone has had me considering reaching for the formula bottle on more than one occasion as it means other people could help but at the moment I just can’t bring myself to do it as it doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to stop while he is thriving. Therefore the current plan of action is to get to 3/4 months and then decide from there based on whether he’s found a natural routine or not.
Breastfeeding for me both times though has meant:
- The bond. It is a lovely experience and nothing beats little half asleep milk drunk smiles.
- The lack of sterilising. Its so much easier to prepare a boob than it is to prepare a bottle.
- The flexibility out and about (you’re never going to forget and leave your boobs at home!)
- The instant milk availability in the middle of the night.
- Hands free feeding. You can latch on and still have a minimum of 1 hand free (sometime’s 2 depending on hold) which leaves plenty of time for blogging and reading in my case.
- The pain. To start with until your nipples toughen up its painful and horrible and you’ll want to give up 100 times a day but some weird ass mama guilt will keep you stubbornly moving forward. It’s temporary though and does get better.
- Beware the let down. Get too full or engorged and you’ll find that when it comes to latching your little one on, not only it is difficult to do but once that letdown hits you’ll most likely give your child an unexpected milky shower! I’m sure it’s never happened but there were times I feared that my boobs were trying to drown my newborn!
- The clothes. Sick of pregnancy clothes by the end? They’re now swapped for equally glamorous breastfeeding friendly clothing.
However let’s get specific about newborns for a minute as in the beginning they feed A LOT – think every 2 hours day and night – which is especially true of breastfed babies as they burn through milk quicker compared to formula fed. However that is not to say formula fed babies will sleep longer, that’s a myth and I truly believe it’s dependent on the baby and the luck of the draw. Therefore with a newborn you WILL be tired keeping up with feeding demands regardless of how you choose to feed. More tired than you ever thought possible (you can read my post on sleep deprivation).
So…are you still reading? If so well done as this is a pretty lengthy post so thanks for staying with me. My advice after all this though? It’s only based on my experience but I suggest you find a way of feeding that suits you whether it be boob, bottle or combi. A fed baby is a happy baby and don’t let anyone guilt you otherwise. If you do go with boob though and it’s your first then invest in lanisoh. Lots and lots of lanisoh because for the first 6 weeks it’s not going to be fun! And don’t be surprised by the tiredness as unfortunately it comes with the job but I promise the feeling of being so tired you feel drunk is temporary….it does get better.
Time for a really sexy topic (Mum and Dad you may want to scroll past)….now that breastfeeding is established with the Bean and we know it’s going to be more than a week or two thing, it was time to invest in a few bits. One of them was some decent breastpads. Told you it was sexy; whit woo right?! However all joking aside, there is nothing worse than chafing in the nipple area.
Disposable breastpads can vary in cost from a couple of ££ for the basics for a pack of 40 (20 pairs / max 10 days worth) to £12 for a pack of 60 branded pads (30 pairs / max 15 days worth) – however if you have a high leakage day you’re going to need to change them more than twice. And if you’re like me whereby milk is keen to shoot out at any given time, then changing often is essential. (Mum / Dad – bet you wish you’d taken that advice to scroll past now right?!)
Therefore I decided to invest in some reusable pads and went with the close pop in breastpads from JoJo Maman Bebe as at £9.50 for 3 sets they seemed reasonably priced and most importantly looked soft! They came with free delivery and arrived within 3 days which was great, and I have to say I’m impressed!
Well packaged they come with a cute little laundry bag which is a nice touch. Curved to match the shape of your breast, these pads are thin and discreet and don’t bunch or get lost in your bra like disposables can. The material is super soft and surprisingly absorbant as I managed to go an entire day on a single pair – almost unheard of.
Made up of three layers (polyester for comfort, soya bean fabric for absorbancy and waterproof laminate) they are fast drying and are a great eco-friendly alternative that won’t break the bank. However, as there are just 3 sets in a pack you need to consider getting a second pack to cover those really leaky days and to ensure you have enough spares to get them through the wash in time.
Please note I was not paid to write this review and all thoughts and opinions are solely my own.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-breastfeeding or I should say I’m pro-feeding your baby in whatever way suits you. A fed baby is a happy baby regardless of how you choose to do it. I am however vehemently in support of a mothers right to feed in public. A hungry baby needs fed and if that offends you then look away, or even better – leave.
I’m lucky that I’ve never encountered confrontational negativity when I’ve been feeding in public but if I did then I would not be shy telling them exactly what my thoughts on the matter would be: my childs needs will always come before other people’s outdated sensitivities. However, the question is how far would you go?
I came across this article today where a mothers response to being told to go to a more private place to feed her child was to squirt mama milk at them. Wow.
Don’t get me wrong part of me is impressed with her reach, as any nursing mama knows that stuff can shoot out unexpectedly and with surprising force sometimes but seriously?! As much as I’d defend my right to feed, I’m not sure even if have the guts to to that far!! The fact is though that no matter how wrong the response may have been, the woman had no right to ask that mother to move just because her ‘distracted’ husband can’t keep his eyes to himself. As for her child; if we are to normalise breastfeeding then we need to make it commonplace and something the next generation regularly sees if we to embed it back into our culture.
As let’s face it, unless you’re REALLY looking you don’t see a thing. Correction, you don’t see a thing unless I point it at you and shoot! So prudes beware, approach a breastfeeding mama with negativity at your peril or risk a shot of milk in return for your unsolicited opinions.