Posted on June 26 2016
It’s National Breastfeeding celebration week (18th - 27th June). An opportunity for mums, breastfeeding supporters and health professionals to come together in their local communities (or in many cases online communities), to share and celebrate the great things about breastfeeding, and support women through their journeys (which aren’t always easy, but, in my opinion worth it!)
As a breastfeeding mum, a supporter of breastfeeding and the owner of a new business designed to normalise breastfeeding and give breastfeeding mums confidence, I thought it only right that I do a blog post to share my experience, my thoughts on the subject and some of my top tips.
HERE’S WHAT I THINK ABOUT BREASTFEEDING…
I could go on all day about this, but I don’t want to bore the hell out of anyone that’s reading this (anyone who knows me in 'real life' knows that I do have a tendency to go on a bit, talk way too much and obsess over a subject). So I will try to keep this brief.
When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding. I knew it had some great benefits to mum and baby, and learned more about that from my NCT classes and a lot of online research. But I also knew that formula was available and was an option too. I was under no pressure from anyone about how I chose to feed my baby, and in fact although I have always seen it as a normal thing, I didn’t know that many people who had breastfed their babies. A few family members had, I also had some friends who had tried or done if for a short time, and I also know many great mums who hadn’t wanted to – so I knew there were options.
I can honestly say that I have no judgement either way of how women choose to feed their babies, or what works out for them and their families or their lifestyle. I do however have a problem with the lack of correct information/knowledge and support that lets down mums who want to breastfeed, who may have had a better experience had they known more or had more support and I think we should all help each other and be open about the realistic highs and lows so that those who want to breastfeed have a better chance of success and I also think that it should be a much more ‘normal’ thing in our society and culture than it currently seems to be.
MY BOOBING STORY
When my little girl was born via a traumatic forceps delivery in theatre after a long and exhausting labour, I didn’t get to properly hold or cuddle her until an hour after she was born. She’d been left, crying in the arms of my shell-shocked husband in recovery while they waited for me to be wheeled round.
As soon as the midwife asked me if I wanted skin to skin and to try breastfeeding I had no doubt that I wanted to, and to my absolute delight, she latched on and we enjoyed that moment so much seeing her take to it. Over the next 24 hours I continued to feed on-demand but she was sleepy and tests showed she had jaundice. I was told by the midwife on duty and a paediatrician that I would need to top up with formula and she needed photo therapy. It was at that point that I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I was really upset and confused. All the advice that health professionals give and all the encouragement to breastfeed, and there I was doing it (and proud of myself and my baby that we were doing it), and then I was being told to give her formula. I didn’t mind her having it, but I was worried about how it might affect breastfeeding and if it meant breastfeeding would be over before it had really begun. I sent my husband to the car for the starter kit of ready to go formula that I had taken with me ‘just in case’ (but hadn’t expected to use), and after every breastfeed I gave her some formula until tests showed her levels were back to normal, and by that time my milk had come in too. Luckily breastfeeding continued fine, and I soon gave up with the top ups and ended up just breastfeeding. Sore nipples, some pain, a lot of exhaustion but happy and willing to power through and carry on with it.
And I am so glad I did. It has been the right thing for me, and for my little one and I have had such support from everyone I know. My husband especially, and my lovely family and friends who have been fab and just accepted it as normal and been there for me. Also my fab NCT group for safety in numbers when out and about breastfeeding in public and for sharing the highs and lows with.
Support-wise, as well as good friends and family, I don’t think I could have got through the past 16 months (especially the early months) without the internet. Support groups online, Facebook groups, websites with breastfeeding information, Instagram – THANK YOU. I really would recommend that mums use other mums for support, encouragement and information. For me, this was worth so much more than any of the information I got from professionals (I think that needs improvement), and I think social media communities normalising breastfeeding gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed.
MY BREASTFEEDING ‘TOP TEN’ SURVIVAL KIT
- Lanolin cream – a lifesaver for sore nipples (coconut oil works well too!)
- Water – feeding is thirsty work so you need to stay hydrated
- Breast pads – enough said
- Breastfeeding cushion - great for positioning and keeping your hands free –(see point 5)
- Your phone – online shopping, 3am googling, online forums, Kelly mom website, social media stalking…
- Hobnobs – Breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories a day, so you deserve it! Plus oats are apparently good for milk production! Winner! (I’d also recommend enjoying lots of cake too! Just because..)
- Netflix – get comfy during those hours of cluster feeding during growth spurts
- Breast pump – good for building a freezer stash for when you’re ready to leave baby or if you want to try giving expressed milk when out and about
- Muslin squares – you can never have too many. Mop up sick, catch spraying milk (yes that happened!), use as a comforter, or drape over your chest for some coverage/modesty
- A support network – LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST – real friends, online friends, health professionals… Whoever it is, make sure you talk, ask questions and get the help you need!