Once I discovered I was pregnant one thing became really clear to me: I wanted to breastfeed. It’s brilliant that in UK most midwifes really advocate for breastfeeding to encourage mums to go on. Some of my friends might argue that they’ve become breastfeeding nazis and don’t really understand that in some instances Mums have no choice but to go to formula.
Whatever your choice is: A feed baby is the important thing, regardless of how!
Anyway, I thought that breastfeeding was going to be a lot easy. When you watch in the movies everything seems to smooth and easy but it’s not easy at all. I went to a breastfeeding class, provided by the NHS so I thought I new it all:
- Nose to nipple
- Wait for the big yawn
- Push baby into the breast
Sounds pretty straightforward but it’s not
#1 You need a lot of support in order to start a good breastfeeding journey, from the moment baby is born
I was lucky enough to be followed by a private midwife (well, lucky that I could afford it), so they’ve really ensured that my breastfeeding wish was going to be met. I was still in “coma” and my baby was already at my breast having a decent feed. In my case it also helped that she was starving, as she had not been fed properly inside my belly for the last 4 weeks. She was born with only 2.5kg (5.5lb) and all she wanted was to feed. In fact, the first person to hold her was my other half and she went to search for his nipples. So whereas some babies, like mine, will be born hungry and wanting to feed in most cases they probably just had a main meal and are to amazed by being outside and are not interested in feeding.
Many mums will give up on breastfeeding because they don’t get the correct support especially in the first hours when they are still in pain.
#2 Skin to skin is crucial in the first hour of baby’s life
Even though it seems babies are born knowing exactly what to do, they need to be guided as well. One big piece of advice I was giving while pregnant was: “skin to skin”. As soon baby is born just go ahead and do it. Bond together for at least a good hour. The benefits are incredible for both mum and baby. Both will calm down and get used to each other. Oxytacin (the “one hormone” to rule them all) will kick in helping with the milk production. Baby will eventually follow the clues and start to search for the breast once he wants to feed.
#3 There are a few things that might complicate the whole journey…. tongue tie
Normally at the hospital they are supposed to check if baby has tongue tie, as it does complicate breastfeeding a lot, but in some cases babies are not diagnosed and then mum ends up in pain and baby feels frustrated because he can’t feed efficiently. My little one had posterior tongue tie and it was only diagnosed because my nipples were absolutely in pain and getting damaged. She ended up drinking blood and I was really struggling with the pain. To cope with it, I was using nipple shields, but nipple shields decrease the milk production. In the end, because she had lip tie she was checked by a private midwife, they’ve analysed how she was moving her tongue and there she was, she had it! Once she was snipped I’ve managed to get rid of the nipple shields. Tongue tie tends to lead to inefficient feedings and a lot of air swallowing which triggers colic and potentially reflux as well. So if no matter what you do baby doesn’t latch properly and you have sore nipples you might want to check for lip tie.
#4 Growth spurts might make you believe your milk is not enough
Here’s a thing I knew nothing about… growth spurts. Growth spurts are associated to development leaps. Typically baby will sleep a lot a few days before and then have a few days of eating all the time. Many mums will take this as a sign that her supply is not good enough or the classic: you’re milk is not nutritious enough for your baby. Growth spurts are precisely to increase supply. It takes around 2 days for mum’s supply to adjust to the babies needs, so babies knowing they will be needing more milk they ask mum in advance so production has time to catch up. It’s absolutely normal. You will feel really tired and exhausted but it will pass! The main ones are on the first days at home, 7 to 10 days, 2 to 3 weeks, 4 to 6 weeks, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months but each baby is different. For instance my little one has her first growth spurts earlier than the calendar above and I haven’t noticed anything around 4 months. But if you noticed one, don’t give up, it’s just your baby making a request for milk he will only need in the future.
#5 Food restrictions
Whereas most mums can eat pretty much what they want as long as they try to maintain a healthy diet – which is hard considering you’ll be hungry all time and no time to prepare stuff, some of us have to be careful with the food. Cows Milk Intolerance or Allergy (CMPI / CMPA) is quite common, so if your baby has eczema, colics or reflux you might want to go 6 weeks dairy / soy free (since the protein is very similar anyway) to see if your baby improves. In the case of reflux you’ll have to cut all acidic food. You should also restrict coffee and chocolate consumption. I thought I would be able to eat pretty much everything once baby was born…. had no idea I would have to be so restricted but it’s for a good cause. Some mums have no other choice but to sweet to a specific formula.
So if you’re planning to breastfeed good luck!!! Hope you get the support your need.
Any experiences you would like to share? Was it easy for you?