The medical profession are mad keen for all new mothers to breastfeed these days. Formula milk is basically akin to poison and you’ll deffo be looked at with judgey eyes by the midwife if you decide you don’t want to do it.
It’s the most natural thing in the world and women have been feeding their babies this way since the dawn of humanity (formula milk is a recent blip which was encouraged by the medical profession some years ago only for them to do a quick U-turn and agree that breast is indeed best). But that isn’t to say that breastfeeding is easy. It certainly has its pros and cons.
For me, breastfeeding was definitely something I wanted to do. It is, as they say, best for baby, it’s best for the pursestrings (it’s free food and we all know nothing tastes better than free food) and it’s best for mum – here’s what you’re going to come to realise if you decide to get that baby on the tit.
You’re brand new to it, baby is brand new to it. It might take a couple of days before baby can figure out how to breastfeed and it can be a fretful and worrying time for a new mum – is my baby going to starve?? The NHS will generally keep you in hospital until you and baby can figure out what the hell you’re doing and you may be shown several different techniques. For me personally, the techniques I was shown didn’t work and Cora seemed pretty insulted when I tried to shove her head on my nipple. Luckily a technique I’d watched on a Youtube video while I was pregnant worked just fine and she latched on within half an hour of popping out – other mums had been in hospital for a couple of days and still not mastered it, everyone is different. Watch a few videos and get yourself prepared beforehand.
There really is nothing like the bond you create with your new son or daughter when you’re feeding them. While they’re busy getting what they need from you, you get to stroke their hair and play with their tiny feet and hands and generally just cuddle their head off. No matter how ‘hands on’ the dad is, it’s something he’ll never be able to experience. Cherish it.
Improper latch, cluster feeding (where baby basically just seems to constantly want to be on the nipple) can leave your nipples RAW. If anything is going to want to make you jib it off, it’s this. Firstly, make sure you invest in a good nipple cream like Lansinoh or Palmers nursing butter and apply them constantly. They won’t work miracles but they do help. It’s worth investing in an electric breast pump just to give your nipples a rest on the really bad days (expressing doesn’t hurt even when your nipples are mangled) – I’m sure some midwives would advise against it but if it’s the difference between expressing and giving up breastfeeding altogether? Worth it. The Medala Swing electric breast pump is dead easy to use and it’s portable as well (i.e. you can either plug it in or it takes batteries) so you can clip it to your clothes and express on the go.
Baby will tend not to spill a drop of breast milk when it’s straight from the source and don’t get more than a single burp’s worth of wind. With a bottle there’ll be milk EVERYWHERE and they tend to need winding a bit more. There are bottles out there specifically designed to be used in conjunction with breastfeeding and some are better than others. The Avent and Tommee Tippee ones are a disaster but the Lansinoh NaturalWave and the Medala one (that comes as part of a set with the electric breast pump) are great for feeding baby expressed milk as they mimic the sucking action needed for the nipple.
Your body needs about 3000 calories a day when breastfeeding, that means weight loss is a piece of piss. Yes your nipples hurt sometimes but have you ever done leg day with a personal trainer at the gym? Now that is PAIN! If you can get through that you can get through breastfeeding. In 2 weeks I lost nearly a stone. This needs to be sold as a breastfeeding benefit a lot more!
As well as feeding for hunger, baby will also want to be at the breast when he or she wants a snack or just some comfort and cuddles. It can get frustrating when you’re trying to get other things done but they’re only this tiny for a short period of time and there’ll eventually come a day when cuddling you will be met with utter disdain by them so embrace it while you can. The first three months after birth are a massive adjustment period for your little one after being forcibly evicted from the womb they called home. Make it easier for them and be there for them – the washing can wait.
You might be embarrassed getting your boobs out in public, you might not. Breastfeeding in public is a hot topic at the moment with some absolute arseholes objecting to it. You can be as a prepared as you possibly can be and still, baby might have other ideas and when they’re hungry, they’ll deffo let you know about it. A screaming baby is not something that can or should be ignored so you wap those bad boys out and feed and be proud of it. Fuck the small minded pricks who have a problem with something as natural as feeding your child, it’s not your problem so don’t feel you have to make it so.
When it’s time for a feed your boobs can know even before baby does and they’ll turn on like a leaky tap. Breast pads are an absolute essential unless you want wet patches on your clothes of course. The Tommee Tippee ones only have one sticky bit on and it’s useless – get the Lansinoh ones. There’s also silicone ones you can get rather than the disposable ones but I found no matter how often I cleaned them they always made my boobs smell like sour milk. Eeeee.
Apparently formula milk makes baby’s arse secretions smell pretty bad – the breast milk ones are quite inoffensive. Kind of like butter? I’ll let you in on a little secret, even if your baby has had an absolute shitastrophe and managed to poo through their nappy, their clothes, into their hair and all over you, you proper, proper won’t care. It’s scary how much love you have for them, that even being covered in their poo is sound (and also inevitable).
There’s no getting up at 3am trying to make up formula bottles with a screaming child on one arm. As soon as they start to stir in the night just whack them on the boob and you have an instantly happy baby. You can even get them naked and feed them in the bath if their feeding schedule has happened to collide with your ‘me time’.
And as we’ve already covered, there’s nothing that tastes better than free scran.
Even though breastfeeding isn’t always a walk in the park, I’ve generally found it to be quite easy and on the whole I enjoy it and I’m glad I chose to do it. If you’re finding it more difficult to breastfeed and feel wracked with guilt then here’s another point of view from Oh Bella blog.
Whatever you decide to do – breastfeeding is between you and your baby and no one else. Own your choice!