For something that’s meant to be so natural, it’s surprising how bloody hard it actually is to do.
I’m no earth mother. Breastfeeding never came naturally or easy for me. The first time I attempted to breastfeed my first baby, I remember feeling so let down when it didn’t just happen like I thought it would, or like I thought it should. From the moment we arrived home from the hospital, my nipples were already scabbed over and unbelievably sore from endless false latches and I was dreading the next feed which of course came all too quickly. The next four months were spent literally fighting to breastfeed my daughter. I tried everything from visiting my local breastfeeding clinic to watching endless YouTube tutorials on how to get baby to latch correctly. I tried three different brands of nipple shields and brought expensive nipple repair creams and spent hours trying to express a measly few drops of boobie juice, all in my pursuit to feed my spoglett from the boob. It was exhausting.
I literally fought for four long months before I finally gave in and we fed her a bottle of formula and much to my surprise, my baby was absolutely fine. She guzzled the whole bottle and I went out for a long overdue date with the Hubster. From that point on I realised that I had been putting a whole lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to feed my baby, which took away a lot of the enjoyment out of those first few months of becoming a parent. I knew right then that if I was ever lucky enough to have another baby, then when it came to feeding, I would go with the flow. Of course, this time around there have been moments of meltdowns. Where I’ve cried out to my Insta buddies for help when I’ve had my udders out for hours on end, but I’ve soon given myself a good talking to and remembered my promise to myself.
Even as a second time Mum, I’d forgotten about so many aspects of breastfeeding that I found hard the first time around; feeding in public, the afternoon cluster feeding sessions, oh and when baby decides to start using you as a human dummy to name a few! I know that I want to breastfeed and it is my choice to do so and when it works, life is just great, but in the same respect, there is a whole host of challenges that can sometimes have a huge impact on your breastfeeding experience. So I’ve put together a round up of my breastfeeding challenges to not only help others but as a reminder to go easy on myself to give myself a little credit. Something us Mumma’s aren’t very good at doing.
It’s A Skill
There’s a knack to it and neither you or the baby know how to do it straight away. Babies do this amazing thing where they instinctively nuzzle down your body in search of your boobs. It’s brilliant to watch and hilarious when they do it to Daddy only to be disappointed when they arrive at their destination to find no boob. But when they do get to the right boob, it’s not always a harmonious meeting. Latching on is a skill.
There are positions and angles to get right before anything productive happens and if not done correctly, that’s when it all goes tits up. Literally. Bad latching leads to sore nipples. Sore nipples equal unhappy Mumma and unhappy Mumma equals unhappy baby. No one learns the Tango overnight. Be prepared to invest time in learning this skill and take any help or advice when and where you can. Don’t be disheartened, even if it doesn’t come easy at first. Remember to always listen to your head over your heart if the time ever comes when you’ve really had enough.
It’s A Commitment
There is no scooting around the fact that if you decide to breastfeed, it’s a full-on commitment. You’re working around baby’s demands, with no measure of how much they are getting or how often they will require a feed. Feeding on demand can be really stressful. Imagine working to someone else’s schedule and having absolutely no scooby as to when anything is happening. It’s like one of those ridiculous tasks on Big Brother where you literally have to drop whatever you’re doing at any hour of the day and rush to the source of the noise and whip your boobs out as quick as possible.
Be prepared to have to stop whenever and wherever to feed; walking down high streets, mooching about in supermarkets, in the queue in Ikea (checking out the meatballs to be exact), pulling over when driving, whilst having your hair highlighted, as soon as you step out the shower…absolutely whenever baby needs it, your boobs are on call for the foreseeable future. It’s time-consuming and at times super frustrating, but it’s not forever and it is your choice. Breastfeeding has been a much easier experience this time by reminding myself that this is what it’s all about, it’s a commitment and it’s my choice. At any point when it all gets too much, there are other ways I can feed my baby and the world won’t end.
Confidence to Feed in Public
The first time around I might as well have carried around a tent to pop up every time I needed to whip out my boobs to feed Elsie. I was so concerned about everything and everyone else whilst the two of us got in a right old tizz, struggling under an apron-style cover-up, trying to juggle muslins and nipple shields practically in the dark whilst attempting to get that all-important latch. It was a right old faff. Neither of us was happy and all my baby wanted was milk. This time around I couldn’t give two hoots about anyone else except my baby getting her milk.
If you don’t like it, don’t look.
If it offends you, I’ve got a spare muslin to cover up your face which FYI, offends me just as much.
I’ve got a whole host of comebacks just in case some ignorant plonker decides to interrupt my baby’s feed. Some people have no table manners and eat like absolute slobs, do I ask them to put the tablecloth over the heads? Nope. So why should we breastfeeding Mumma’s be made to feel uncomfortable? Don’t get me wrong, I casually sling a muslin over my mammoth boob, but not my baby. Try to find the confidence in what you doing and be proud of what you both have achieved together, no one else matters.
What to Wear
Nursing clothes are expensive. Which is just terrific when the last thing you can afford to spend your precious maternity leave funds on are expensive layers of material that you won’t be wearing forever. Finding outfits to wear to breastfeed is hard. Last time I breastfed during the autumn months so it was easier to do that layer up trick with vest tops under your normal clothes.
But breastfeeding in the summer, well it’s as if you need to think like a stripper when it comes to deciding on what to wear. You need to wear minimal clothing with quick access to the boobs whilst leaving a little bit to the imagination (i.e. trying to hide the post-baby pouch) I’ve been rotating two off the shoulder dresses from ASOS, find them here and here, thanks to a recommendation from the very lovely Charlotte over at Write Like No One’s Watching and when at home I live in these vest tops from H&M.
It’s Your Choice
It’s no secret that midwives and health visitors are, in a majority, pro-breastfeeding. Just recently when I said to my health visitor that I’d given Billie a formula bottle which she threw up, her response was “good girl“. Not exactly the response I was hoping for when already feeling the pressure to feed my baby whilst juggling a twenty-one month old who requires just as much attention as the newborn.
Breastfeeding in no doubt comes with its fair share of challenges, but when you finally get the hang of it, there really is something quite magical about it. Being able to comfort my baby and help her to grow is just wonderful and it’s something I’m enjoying a lot more the second time around. It may last another week or another month, who knows, but for the moment I’m savouring our achievement together and have bottles of pre-made formula in the cupboard for whenever we’re ready for them.
No one ever writes on their C.V. how they were fed in those first few weeks of life or were asked it on their first date so it really doesn’t matter. However you decide to feed your baby, always know that you’re doing the best for your baby. Don’t be hard on yourself and do whatever makes you a happier, healthier Mum.
Billie is wearing the gorgeous new babywear range based on the Children’s classic, The Hungry Caterpillar which has recently launched at Sainsbury’s this Summer. The baby sleepsuit and romper are super soft and wash beautifully. The towel is really bright and fun and perfect to wrap your little ones up like a caterpillar after their baths.
It was so lovely introducing this brilliant story to both the girls before bedtime. Elsie absolutely loved the story and Billie looked just adorable in her new baby grow. The range is available online now. We were kindly sent these items to review.