Breastfeeding is one of the most amazing things you can do as a parent but the journey isn’t always easy.
It can be tricky to get started and even once breastfeeding is established, there can be some unexpected bumps in the road. This week is World Breastfeeding Week so we asked some mums what they wish they’d known about breastfeeding from the beginning.
Here are our favourite replies:
• “That it’s best to feed evenly from both breasts. I had one superboob and one that didn't pump as well, with the end result that one is now at least one size bigger than the other.”
• “In those early weeks of constant worrying about the latch/positioning/intake, sore nipples and exhaustion, I wish I’d known there would come a time when breastfeeding is as easy and as comforting for mum as it is for baby.”
• “That I would miss it so much once it was gone.”
• “That you can stop for a while without giving up entirely. That mixed breast/bottle feeding is an option too.”
• “Tell your partner that their only job is to bring you food and drink as you rest, skin to skin, with baby.”
• “If you've had an uncomplicated birth/are up to it, push for skin to skin contact straight after birth for at least for 1-2 hours. Great for baby but also stimulates your milk to come in. I found when I was struggling with supply in early days, doing some skin to skin helped!”
• “Washable cotton breast/bra pads are much comfier and more absorbent than the disposable ones, which I found scratchy and itchy and once wet, quite soggy. Buy 2-3 pairs and just shove in washing machine along with baby's clothes.”
• “That it isn't easy to begin with and it can hurt but, once you have got positioning sorted (my eldest needed a rugby ball hold), it is magical! Free, instant, convenient and such a lovely experience!”
• “There’s no correct time length for feeds. My baby was super-efficient and just did micro feeds. Even though she put on plenty of weight, I spent ages worrying she wasn’t feeding for long enough. She did what she needed.”
• “Exclusively pumping/expressing IS breastfeeding, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! But if you're combining nursing and pumping, don't stress if pump doesn't seem to get much out, as babies tend to be more effective on boobs than a pump.”
• “Thin slices of potato all over boobs works wonders for engorgement! Boobie dauphinois!”
• “How it can be just as hard to stop as it is to start!”
• Cluster feeding is normal (exhausting but normal), it'll weirdly make you feel like you're having contractions for the first few days.”
• “Get one of your best friends who has been through it, felt the pain and the wonders, to just come sit with you day and night if they can, to give you all the support you need. Or be one of those friends and offer unconditional, round the clock support for the first few weeks.”
• “That you can eat what you like while you do it - huge bonus!” You don’t need to give up any foods.
• “If it doesn't work at first, that doesn't mean it won't ever work! If baby can't latch or suckle even in the first 2-3 weeks, keep pumping to bring milk in and keep supply up, and offer breast before bottle but without pressure. Sometimes babies just need time!”
• “It may be really messy to begin with! Sounds silly but I had no idea how many bras/breast pads/outfits I would get through! Only 3.5 weeks in so far but have spent most of that time drenched in milk.”
• “Natural doesn't mean easy - it's more like learning to walk than breathing.”
• “That it can take up to six weeks or longer to feel like you’re really getting it! It’s a skill you both need to learn.”
• “In the early days it can feel like they are feeding all of the time. This is normal and helps to 'up' your supply. It is unlikely to mean you aren't producing enough or that they need a top up.”
• “Feeding to sleep is not a bad thing. If it is working for you keep doing it.”
• “Breastfeeding is less faff than formula – you don't have to start making a bottle in the middle of the night or plan how much to take with you when you're out for the day!”
• “Your baby is better at getting the milk out than a pump, so don’t see how much you pump as an indication of supply.”
• “I wish I'd known that breastfeeding, once established, is a lovely experience and shouldn't be causing the mother discomfort. I fed through my daughter's tongue tie for too long before getting it snipped, and it nearly ended our breastfeeding journey. I wish I'd trusted my instinct that something wasn't right and fixed the problem when my daughter was younger.”
• “Breastfeeding a sleepy newborn in public is easy, they keep still and honestly anyone that looks at you will probably think you are having cuddle. Wriggly older babies and toddlers are not so good for helping you be discreet!”
What do YOU wish you’d known about breastfeeding and what would you tell yourself if you could go back in time? Let us know by using the #stylishmumclub tag on your social media posts.