Let me start off by saying, this post is meant to be positive about breastfeeding. It is a fantastic way to bond with your baby, has been proven to fight off infection, and has been found to increase your IQ (study here)! I am lucky that little Bear was able to latch on correctly. I know how tough it must be for Mums who struggle to breastfeed!
However, I must say, the early stages of breastfeeding are very, very tough and I was not prepared for the overwhelming feelings I would have on a daily basis. My son is only 5 weeks old and I have been told it gets better, but I just want to be honest and share my experience. I have been struggling and wish that somebody had told me breastfeeding can be a lovely bonding experience, but it is also very difficult!
Here is my experience and my tips for solving these problems.
1. You feel like you are trapped in a breastfeeding prison.
The first month of breastfeeding (and now veering into the second month) is constant. He feeds at least every two hours at night and during the day sometimes every hour! Nobody warned me of this so I think it’s important to let everybody know how time consuming and overwhelming this is. Solution: I have been getting out of the house at least once a day. Even if it’s just going for a walk with the pram. This is for my sanity. Even if he is awake and seems like he might cry, I stick him in the pram and he calms down right away…something about the movement. And even if I am absolutely exhausted, which most days I am, I still get my butt out of the house. I think I would literally go insane or be depressed if I did not. The other option is breast pumping, although the NHS doesn’t recommend you bottle feed a baby until 4 weeks. I did this around 3 weeks and he was fine, he didn’t have nipple confusion and actually found that the milk in the bottle came out too fast for him so we bought a “slow flow nipple.”
2. For the first three weeks your nipples are very, very sore.
I would argue that they are still sore now (at 5 weeks) but it’s not as bad. The first week I was sitting around my house with my nipples out. I didn’t care who saw them! For some reason after week 2 I regained my self consciousness, I realised I probably should put them away. Solution: Nipple cream! But more specifically buy Lansinoh HPA Lanolin, the purple one. Seriously this is absolutely THE best and I thank god that the woman in Boots recommended this to me when I was 6 months pregnant. It’s like she knew what was coming but spared me the gory details… I also tried the Avent one but it is not as good. The purple bottle saved my life!
3. Mastitis….0r before you get Mastisis…..plugged milk ducts.
Plugged milk ducts you say? Yes, this is a thing. I had no idea that your boob could be in so much pain. I also had no idea this exists or would happen to me. You basically have a lump in your boob that is extremely painful and is blocking your back milk from getting out. Yes, there is back milk and fore milk. The back milk is the yellow, high calorie stuff that helps your baby grow. Solution: Other than going to the doctor to get antibiotics. Invest in an expensive maternity bra. Okay it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive but just make sure the material is really, really soft and that the bra straps don’t constrict your boob in anyway. I bought this really cheap £5 bra online because I didn’t think I needed to get those £25 bras from Mothercare. Well I was wrong! The cheap bra constricted my milk flow and I believe caused the plugged milk ducts. I ended up buying a bra from Mothercare and it’s absolutely amazing, it’s comfortable, very soft and easy to unsnap when baby is wailing for milk and I’m freaking out trying to undo my bra! The other option is heat and massage. Either taking a hot bath or putting a hot water bottle on the infected breast and massaging the plugged duct in circular motions. This may hurt but it apparently helps move the milk out of the breast.
4. You don’t sleep.
I’ve somewhat already mentioned this one but it needs its own number. He feeds every two hours at night and sometimes after he feeds he wants to play! Solution: Everything should be dark and boring. Even if I have to change him, I try and keep the lights dim. He sleeps better this way and is more likely to keep on sleeping! I also try not to look at him because I know my face and interaction with him is very stimulating at this age. I think white noise helps as well. I downloaded this app called White Noise that plays it constantly for hours and hours.
5. You can’t do anything else except breastfeed!
Now this drives me crazy. I love watching Modern Family but for 8 hours a day every day, it is impossible! I start dreaming as if the characters are my friends. Plus I’ve already watched all of the seasons. Solution: A pillow fort. I put a “breastfeeding pillow” or “pregnancy pillow” around me then put a pillow underneath the pregnancy pillow on each side, then a pillow on my lap. And voila! The baby is able to breastfeed and my hands are free to type on my laptop. The other option is a sling but I haven’t mastered this yet.
6. Your arm hurts after a while.
I am so tired all of the time. I can’t deal with breastfeeding anymore but it is something I have to do because I believe it’s the best for my baby. (Sometimes I just want to quit and give him formula though) Solution: Breastfeeding on the laying down side position. This has saved my life (besides the nipple cream). I’m able to feed him in bed when I am feeling extremely exhausted and want to give up. I have also been feeding him in the night this way and “co-sleeping.” I’m finding this is the only way I can get some sleep as it is a constant battle to get him to sleep in the Moses basket. For those of you don’t know this position….you lay on your side and put the baby on his side and bring him right up to the nipple and push him into you and POOF side sleeping position!
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