As National Breastfeeding week comes to a close, I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my experience and talk about what breastfeeding my son meant to me.
I know I couldn’t have got through just over six months of feeding if it hadn’t been for the support I’ve had from my friends online, some wonderful women who were there for me at all hours of the night to help me through when I wanted to give up.
Their answers are below, along with some helpful links. And if you or someone you know is about to begin breastfeeding, why not consider buying them a Cluster Kit to help out with those early days?
There is a lot of advice out there, often conflicting, but hopefully this will help you prepare for the breastfeeding journey that lies ahead:
“Constant feeding is normal. Get comfy and have food, drink and a phone charger to hand,” Vickie Elliott, mum of three (including Lyssi, pictured).
“Don’t set a breastfeeding goal date, because if they don’t meet the goal I don’t want them to feel they have failed. Take each day as it comes, any bit of breast milk is good. Also, listen to peer support, but don’t worry if you find what’s best for you and your family is different,” Leah Adele, mum of two.
“Your diet is important because that’s what gets through to the milk. I over-produced milk, keep a bottle or cup to express into before a feed so the baby doesn’t just get the fore milk but the hind milk too. And use a warm cloth on an engorged boob to help work out the milk, because it can be painful and mastitis is awful if you get that,” Rebecca Widnall, mum of two, @familyfunof4
“Hang in there! Get educated, so you know about cluster feeding, latch issues happen and lots of other things. But remember, nothing beats that feeling when they gain a lot of weight… Go boobies!” Nicola Pearson, mum of Izzy (who she’s pictured with on their holiday this month).
“Keep trying, I promise it’s worth it! Days, weeks, months or years … it’s worth it ,” Ruth Crowther, mum of two.
“If you find you can’t breastfeed, for whatever reason, don’t be hard on yourself. If you are determined to give your baby your milk, there are other options such as exclusive pumping. I had milk supply issues and found that fenugreek, fennel, milk thistle and raspberry leaf tea tea helped. Oh and oatbran!” Angela Jayne Kilpatrick, mum of one.
“Look after yourself: lots of sleep and lots of water help mummy make more milk. Putting a pin on your bra reminds you which side to feed next! And wind them…always wind them!” Karina, mum of two, @mollysmummy09, mum of two.
“If you’re having problems, don’t just stop. If you were having problems with a new car, you wouldn’t just stop using the car, you would find the problem and fix it. Seek help from an infant feeding lead or better yet an IBCLC (Idependent Board Certified Lactation Consultant) ,” Jess Fletcher, mum of two (pictured here with her youngest).
“Don’t be bogged down by worrying about weight gain. Also, once you get past the first 8 weeks it really does make parenting easier! I don’t know how I would cope with my 2 year olds meltdowns without boob 😬 Oh, and get a Netflix subscription!” Hannah Griffiths.
“Everyday’s different with breastfeeding, there’s no feeding schedule because your body varies supply on babies need. Some days they feed more, some days less – it’s fine.” @Toys_Preschool
“Don’t be defeated before you have even tried, it’s bloody hard work but also very rewarding knowing you are solely keeping your own creation alive Try to relax as best as you can & always have the remote to hand so you’re busy too ,” Sharon Hicks.
“Remember it’s good for your health and the your baby’s… as well as your finances! Also, that lovely, floaty letdown feeling, ahhhhh ,” Zel Gurney, mum of two (pictured here with Willow).
“Persevere, it’s not always and often isn’t easy. Ask for help and cut yourself some slack”, Kathryn Faro, mum of one.
“Some days feel like non-stop feeding and you might hit a wall and think you can’t do it… but keep going, it gets easier!” Becky, mum of two, @Bringinguptheb,
“It’s just beautiful 😊 So many things in life aren’t easy but they are worth fighting for: breastfeeding, for me, is one of those things. Mind, it does come easy for some, so it shouldn’t be assumed it’ll be hard or painful. Do lots of research, join Facebook groups, seek out like-minded people, go to breastfeeding cafes and groups… and do these while you’re pregnant so you are armed when baby arrives. Don’t say you’ll ‘try breastfeeding’, commit – mental strength is important in the dark moments. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend buying formula/bottles/prep machine etc ‘just in case’… if it comes to it, these things can be bought at a 24hr supermarket. Trust your body 😊 It’s grown a beautiful, healthy baby, trust it to nourish that baby too ❤ I love boobs me! ” Emily Rose Balfour, mum of two (pictured here feeding while she was pregnant).
“Be proud of yourself, when you strip it down to its simplest form you are growing a human and that’s amazing,” Katie Laker, mum of one.
“It’s hard, so hard, but then it’s easy, so easy! ” Sophie Read, mum of four (pictured with her youngest, Ezzie).
“If you are having serious nipple pain that makes you want to give up, seek support from a breastfeeding group and do pay the money for an IBCLC. If you are still having trouble after seeing NHS professionals, La Leche League and Kellymom were my go too websites for any questions! Oh and it does get easier, stick it out for 8 weeks and you’ve cracked it,” Carrie Mariah, mum of one.
“Midwives were a great help for me and from then on, I’d say our Facebook group helped me through the long nights. Also, my hubby and some of my family were really, really supportive and helpful,” Susan Amy, Mum of one (pictured moments after their first feed).
“Never, ever, give up on a bad day,” Katy Mackenzie, mum of one.
” You do not need to ‘pump and dump’ if you drink alcohol, and it can hurt a *lot* to begin with, even if you’re doing everything right. Talk to mums who have been through it, find a Breastmate or La Leche League, join groups online while you’re still pregnant and read their stories. Understand there will be days where you want to burst with love and pride… and others where you would sell your soul for detachable breasts!” Laura Mulvana Sergeant, mum of one.
If this has inspired you to find out more, and I really hope it has, I’ve linked below to some of the websites that have been mentioned. Get them saved in your phone, you will be using them a lot!
(Before I go, a quick note to the ladies who have helped me pull this post together:
You truly are remarkable… not only for your advice in this article and the absolutely beautiful photos, but for all the support you gave me (and still do) during the first six months of Harry’s life. I feel certain that I would not have breastfed for as long as I did had it not been for you being there for me at the dead of night and helping me when I felt low.
And the best bit is, while you were talking me round from wanting to give it all up, you too were dealing with your own newborn/lack of sleep/mastitis and thrush (oh gosh, we missed that one out!) issues. Yet you still took the time to look after me.
I love you lots and am so grateful to have you all in my life. -xxx-)
If you’ve any questions about any of the things mentioned in this blog please do feel free to contact me, either in the comments below or via my Twitter or Facebook pages. I hope this has helped!