I had originally written this post in advance of the latest arrival but then I felt i had to hold off publishing it until I tried and tested my own advice! We’re five weeks into the journey this time round, and touch wood, all is going well, I’m out the far side of soreness, we’re settling into a lovely rhythm together, and most importantly the small lady is piling on the pounds, literally!! I think if you can survive the first couple of weeks you’re on the road to success. I’ve written before about my hit and misses with breastfeeding in the past, not through lack of wanting to do it did things not work out but for various reasons which have led me through a good journey of discovery! BUUUT, this is my time to shine. I really, really want to make a proper go of it this time round so I put together this list of breastfeeding tips I’ve learned to date, for other Mums that may want to try it out or that tried and failed but want to try again.
First things first, go to a class – breastfeeding may be touted as the ‘natural’ way but it is NOT straightforward. And you can read lots of books but honestly, a three or four hour class will arm you with everything you need to know. I didn’t get a class the first time round, the ones in CUMH book up months in advance but second and third time round I got into the class, I don’t know whether I had to ask for it or what but mention it at your booking appointment (your 12 week appointment, yes that far in advance!). Ask for help, and ask again – I speak from only my experience in the hospital in Cork but the first time round, despite claims beforehand that if you were breastfeeding the midwives would give you extra attention, I most certainly found that a false claim in reality. Second time round I was far more savvy and constantly asked the midwives to check the latch, tried all the different positions (sitting and lying mainly) and again asked to check the position and latch were correct. Keep asking, I know midwives are busy but believe me when I say if you don’t have the latch correct from the start it can lead to all sorts of problems you don’t want to encounter, believe me.
Look after yourself, drink water, eat well – this I found, second time round, is probably the most important thing you can do. I can’t stress how important water is. There are lots of tips on eating well when breastfeeding and tips to encourage the production of milk but my favourites included oats (porridge, flapjacks), bagels and fennel tea.
Make yourself comfortable – when you’re breastfeeding, especially in the evenings, you could be in for the long haul! So make sure you arm yourself with plenty of water, your phone charger (if you’re as obsessed as me with your phone or if you’re using an app to time the length of the feed and the side you feed off) or a book. Having a comfortable chair is also hugely important, lord knows our backs and tummies suffer during pregnancy so make sure you have plenty of support. I use a breastfeeding pillow which I’ve raved about here! Know when to give up and know when to persevere – this was so appropriate on my first lady. I cant even begin to describe the pain and agony I endured when feeding her for the first month. I won’t go into it but my lasting memories include remembering how my toes used to curl with the pain when she latched on and the dread, dreading the next time she was going to cry out of hunger. I went back and forth in my head for what felt like an eternity (obviously it wasn’t but when you’re tired, overwhelmed and emotional!) trying to figure out whether I should stop or not. I did after four weeks which I’m aware is a very short time but I distinctly the remember of floating I was so relieved to have the pressure and pain off my shoulders. But if you can get the right advice and help do look for it, the first two weeks are tough, there’s no denying that but if you manage to avoid mastitis, to overcome the painful nipples and blocked ducts then it is worth the battle!
So fingers crossed all is going well this time, personally I find it an incredible way to bond with the baby. I know it’s not always the easy option or even simply an option for Mums out there and when it comes to feeding a baby I think the single most important thing to remember is that a happy Mother means a happy baby and no one should ever even comment on how you choose to feed your own child, be it bottle or breast, we’re all just trying to do our best!