I had decided that I wanted to give breastfeeding a go with my new baby. There were many reasons for this – that it was free, no faffing around preparing bottles in the early hours, as well as it being better for baby.
For something so natural, breastfeeding can actually be really difficult to get to grips with at first. The first few weeks were really tough, and I considered quitting on a number of occasions. There were three things I kept in mind which kept me going – that formula would mean spending an extra £50 each month (yes, I’m from Yorkshire!), “never quit on a bad day” as someone said to me – you’re more likely to regret it that way, and finally this:
This was shared on a breastfeeding support group I am on and I just kept the six week point in my head. At three weeks, six weeks seemed impossible and forever away. But it did gradually get easier from that point. Now at 14 weeks, it is much easier, we both know what we’re doing!
Here are my eight tips for those new to breastfeeding – hopefully they will be useful in the early days!
- Drink lots and lots of water – you’ll get dehydrated quickly. I was told that every time baby drinks, you should have a drink too.
- If you have one place you feed, ensure there are snacks, water, muslins, your phone and tv remote within reach.
- You can’t over feed a breastfed baby. Feed on demand. Baby is likely to have times they are constantly feeding. This is to increase your supply for a growth spurt. Just know it won’t last. Wonder weeks is a great app for seeing when your baby is undergoing developmental leaps and is therefore likely to be more fussy. (This may even apply if formula fed but I’m not sure.)
- Breastfeeding uses an extra 500 calories a day. Make sure you are snacking lots to keep your energy up. Oats are apparently good for increasing milk supply. Great excuse to eat lots of flapjack!
- Know the symptoms of thrush, mastitis and blocked ducts so you can look out for them and treat them asap.
- The initial latch is likely to hurt for the first few weeks (I found it toe curling painful) but this should last less than 30 seconds. Feeding shouldn’t hurt all the way through – if it does, take them off and try again, and seek help with your latch to prevent cracked nipples etc.
- 100% lanolin cream is your friend. Put it on after every feed for the first few weeks (unless you get thrush, as the moist environment will make this worse).
- Breastmilk is amazing. Let it dry on your nipples to help sore nipples, if baby has gunky / sticky eye putting it on there will help, it clears spots, putting it in bathwater makes babies skin soft – there are so many uses! When baby is teething
you can apparently also freeze it into ice pops for them to suck on to give relief too.
If you can get through the first few weeks, breastfeeding is so worth it. Seek support during those first weeks where you can – whether from an online group, in person support group, lactation counselor or a mixture. It’s worth knowing where you can find support beforehand to make it easier. The NCT have a helpline which is open from 8am until midnight everyday, on 0300 330 0700. I now love that it is now so easy to feed and comfort my daughter wherever we are.