Often people talk about breastfeeding like it’s a walk in the park but it was actually only since becoming a mother myself and starting the breastfeeding journey did I understand and fully appreciate just how hard it can be.
Well, particularly at the beginning anyway.
The verb (used with object), fed, feeding.
to give food to; supply with nourishment:
to feed a child.
Whether your baby be breast fed or bottle fed the fact that you’re feeding your baby and giving him / her everything he / she needs nutritionally then bravo to you mama. Sorry if there are any dads reading this too from my stats it shows the majority are women 🙂 .
Some parents choose to bottle feed their babies from the word go and I know some have no choice in the matter. Whichever pathway you have to take then as long as your little loved one is being fed then that’s the main thing isn’t it!
Don’t ever beat yourself up over which way you feed your baby as often these choices are out of our control. I tell you, us mamas are great at giving ourselves a hard time aren’t we sometimes but just remember how fabulous a job you’re doing and how much your baby idolises you already.
For the purpose of this post I want to share with you my experience of breastfeeding, the highs and the lows and the things I wished people had told me about breastfeeding before I embarked on this amazing yet sometimes challenging journey.
The beginning stages
Oh these are the most testing and beautiful times I believe for any mum who wants to start on the breastfeeding journey. Particularly the first two weeks.
I remember with Hugo as soon as he was born and was placed on my chest he started feeding straight away and he’s still obsessed with food now so nothings changed there haha. With Remy he fed a couple of hours later after lots of skin to skin and perseverance with helping him latch on. Totally the opposite of this, I watched my sister having to express for days before she actually got to hold her baby for the first time so I know every mum goes through different experiences with their baby.
The highs in those initial two weeks:
- Bonding with your babe, it’s honestly the best feeling ever. I feel incredibly blessed that I have been able to breastfeed both my babies.
- It’s possibly one of the most beautiful euphoric moments I’ve ever experienced. That feeling of providing, nurturing and looking after your baby in the most intimate and caring way is such a profound experience.
- Bigger and fuller boobs, you appreciate this more after you’ve finished breastfeeding (lol).
- It’s free.
- Skin-to-skin contact.
- It becomes easier with time as you both learn what works for you.
- You don’t have to be organised as you can feed on tap wherever and whenever you like.
- I don’t want to mention this but it’s true, you lose calories but then again I consume more calories because of this so I guess you win some, you lose some :).
- It gives you a break from doing chores in the house as you sit down and feed your baby. Winning! (That’s if your not trying to feed one handed chasing a toddler around the house haha).
The things I wish I’d known, I’m going to elaborate more on this because these are things I had absolutely no idea about and thought I must be doing something wrong:
- Cracked nipples – oh my word! I can’t tell you how painful this is. It’s a toe curling kind of pain every time Remy or Hugo latched on. Once they had started feeding though after a minute or so this pain would generally subside so it was definitely short lived and one of those kinds of pains that you know you have to endure to reap the benefits. Both my experiences of this lasted about two weeks. I’ll do another post soon to help with remedies for this should you experience this.
- Contractions after the birth – I remember this the most with Remy to be honest. For about a week after I gave birth to him, every time he fed I would feel pretty intense contractions across my stomach which was my uterus shrinking back down to normal size. I mean this is amazing that your body will naturally do this but you think after you’ve been through labour surely that’s it regarding putting yourself through anymore pain. No pain, no gain as they say!
- Engorged breasts when the milk comes in – it’s as if over night you get a surprise boob job where they go from one extreme to the other. Your hubby may be like woah but if you’re anything like me they will be so uncomfortable and hard that you’re like, back off until you can get some of that milk outta there haha.
- Blocked ducts: I remembered getting this a few times with Hugo and it being very uncomfortable and painful at times. There are few reasons why you might end up with a blocked milk duct usually wearing a nursing bra that’s too tight or the milk not being drained from your breast for longer than usual.
- How to get rid of a blocked milk duct; they say a warm shower / bath helps as you firmly brush or massage the breast from the top towards the nipple. Also expressing is great for this to release the milk and properly drain it so it doesn’t build up too much again. I always found that massaging the swollen area whilst expressing always worked for me :).
- Leaking breasts: Yes it happens and I would advise to be prepared, always! As you never know when you’re going to come across a crying baby, even if it’s not yours you suddenly feel that tingling sensation and then yep you got it, out the milk comes!
I never leave the house without my breast pads now, I even sleep in them otherwise I would wake up in a sticky milk bath. I usually wear one of those tops with the hidden supports because they’re so much more comfy to sleep in than a bra and the breast pads stay put perfectly. I use these breast pads which are super soft and comfy and stay dry too even through the night!
Please remember I’m only highlighting some of the harder times of breast feeding to let any new mamas know that if you too go through any of these like I did then you know it’s completely normal and you’re definitely not on your own!! I honestly had no idea about any of the above so I remember googling everything to find out that they were pretty common things.
After the initial stages
Ok so you’re now a few weeks into breastfeeding and you feel like you’re finding your rhythm and getting to know how and when your baby likes to feed. This is great and this is where it starts to feel easier I’d say.
It’s funny now being on this journey for a second time as both my boys have been so different. Hugo would often feed up to 30 minutes and longer if he was really hungry but Remy it’s always between 10-15 minutes. He’s a little tinker for pulling off a lot too as he tries to catch his breath again which results in him being sprayed in the face with milk and then me quickly ushering him to latch back on again before we’re both a sticky milky mess haha.
With Hugo because it got so easy to breastfeed I only expressed when I needed to, like the infrequent night I needed to go to an evening do or something. Due to this it actually became more of a faff to go out without him because it resulted in Hugo not really taking to the bottle well and then me not feeling confident in leaving him in case he got too upset and hungry as he refused the bottle. It can feel quite restricting when this happens so I was determined to do things differently with Remy.
Second time around I have already started expressing and giving Remy one bottle a night. I probably would have started a little sooner than four weeks but it’s taken us a little longer to get breastfeeding fully established this time around and I didn’t want to confuse matters. As Hugo was so fussy with bottles I thought it best I try a bottle that is most breast like to help aid combined feeding. So this time I went for the Avent Natural baby bottles which seem to be doing the trick. They also help babies who have colic which is perfect for Remy too as it has a twin valve which vents air into the bottle instead of the babies tummy.
I use the Philips Avent Electric Breast Pump, I cannot tell you enough how it has changed my perception on expressing. With Hugo I just had a hand held one which is one of the reasons I think I abstained from doing it as it became a long and laborious job. Whereas with the electric pump it does all the hardwork for you and it literally takes me 10 minutes to express the amount I need. It’s super easy to sterilse too whether you have an electric steriliser or a microwave one.
FYI I still have a handheld breast pump though for when I’m away so I can just do it when and wherever I like to save anymore engorged breasts :).
I’m excited that I can take up yoga classes again and leave Remy confidently with my hubby now that he can feed him too!
I think all new mums can relate to this next point…
Sometimes it feels that there is so much to remember especially when you get asked all the questions… how is he sleeping? How often does he feed? How much does he weigh now? Oh has he got himself into a routine yet?
Questions, questions, questions.
The answer for me is he didn’t sleep the best for the first month and generally went every two to three hours in the night for a feed. Generally two hours if I’m being honest. Now 10 weeks old he can go a little longer but every night is different from a six hour uninterrupted snooze session to every two hours again. I could actually give you the exact times he wakes up for a feed as it tells me on the uGrow app that I use.
I love a good app, I used them with Hugo and I now use them with Remy. I use apps for assisting all sorts of my motherhood needs whether it be for white noise sounds, timing their feeds or for entertainment value. This time around I downloaded the new uGrow app by Philips Avent. It’s blooming fantastic and I’m not just saying that. You can do everything on it it seems. I use it most for timing how long he feeds and which side as especially in the night I can forget so easily.
You can do all sorts on it though like keep a track on their sleep pattern, feeding pattern, even when you express and decide to give the bottle, weight gain, nappy changes, the list goes on. The app is perfect for breastfed or bottle fed babies and is even more fabulous as it basically acts as my memory, which recently is none existent!
Do check it out, even if you don’t end up using all the features you’ll definitely find it beneficial and interesting to see how your baby is growing into their own little routine without you realising it.
So breastfeeding, it’s actually more of an elaborate subject than I thought. There are so many other things I could discuss about it like breastfeeding in public or what to wear when breastfeeding and how mothers are permanently attached at the hip to their babies. But I will save these subjects for another time and another post.
All I will say is if it is your hearts desire to breastfeed and your facing what feels like the biggest hurdles to jump over, persevere, be strong and stay positive! You can do it! I assure you it does get easier!
But… in saying that, I know for some it doesn’t and the last thing you want is to resent feeding time so above anything whether you have to give the bottle or the breast, make it an enjoyable time where you can enjoy connecting with your baby and know that you are being the best mum you can be. You are amazing!! Never forget that!
If you have any questions at all about anything, please feel free to leave a message!
I would love to hear of any tips you have or nuggets of information that may help me or others reading this post and your experiences of breastfeeding or bottle feeding and what worked for you!
We’re all in this together hey, this wonderful motherhood journey!
Have a great week and sending you all lots of love,
This post was kindly sponsored by Phillips Avent. As ever, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I only blog about brands, products and services that I truly connect with, would genuinely use, and would legitimately recommend to others.