Newborn Feeding: the good, the bad and the tiredness
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.