I think this post about tips when breastfeeding should really be called: Things I wish I knew about breastfeeding in the first few weeks. I will most likely split it into several posts.
14 months into my breastfeeding journey. A number that if mentioned to me while I was pregnant or in the early days, I honestly thought I wouldn’t make. In fact, I thought most women who made it past 6 months were heroes and down right brave to venture a body part into the mouth of an infant with teeth.
Like all mothers, I started my breastfeeding journey wanting to give my little girl the best of everything. I was clear on my desire to breastfeed.
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING:
- Give your baby that all important immunity
- Nutritionally it’s the best balanced diet till 2 years old
- Healthy for mother and babies’ mental wellbeing
- Helps with attunement (perhaps more on this in a future post)
- Most importantly because I read an article that says a breastfeeding woman can save an additional 45 mins a day by breastfeeding because of the prep time and washing up.
- Plus I do not particularly like doing dishes
Just over 14 months and still exclusively breastfeeding, along my journey, I have found that ‘exclusive’ is a loose word.
Even medical professionals will try and coax you out of continuing to breastfeed at the slightest sign of difficulty or a challenge.
This post is for anyone who is wondering if they are living in a parallel universe as they embark on their breastfeeding journey and are finding that there is a lot of small print that the books, prenatal classes all seem to omit much like everything to do with what happens after your little bundle of joy finally arrives.
The main thing to note in the beginning is that breastfeeding is a skill.
My understanding, same as every new mother, was:
- Be patient
- Achieve a good latch
- Voila your little human will feed like a pro
Here are the things no one told me about breastfeeding and not even the pro breastfeeding books, websites or articles prepared me for.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOUR MILK HAS COME IN ?
I was lucky enough to have a lovely midwife sit through a night at day 3 in the hospital while my 3-day-old baby nursed for what felt like 6 hours on the go. I was exhausted in a high dependency unit and all I wanted was more than one hour of uninterrupted sleep.
I didn’t get the cliche tingling sensation or fullness that I had read and was expecting. Instead I had tired and sore nipples that frankly needed a break and an ice bath of their own.
I asked if what I was experiencing was normal and she calmly said that this is usually what happens when your milk is coming in and the baby is ready for milk.
After the marathon night, my daughter had a white tongue. Result!
Breastfeeding works on a demand and supply mechanism and, in the early days, there is no such thing as a baby using you as a pacifier. This is mother nature’s way of ensuring you produce just what your baby needs so let him/her feed as often and for as long as needed, and do not rush it. It can take up to an hour for one feed. Get comfortable. This is critical to establishing your milk supply in the early weeks.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH MILK?
This was a real duh! moment for me after the maternity nurse asked.
Have you measured?
You won’t know till you measure and the only way to do this is to express.
Tips when breastfeeding
Right after your first feed pump both breasts for a full cycle with an electric pump (make sure you use the right size attachment for your size nipple or you will end up with sore nipples like I did) .
The ML’s produced plus an additional 1/3 is roughly what each breast is giving your baby. A baby is able to empty you out better than an electric pump so don’t be disheartened.
Do this around day 7 and intermittently in the first few weeks and then months to answer your questions around if you have enough milk.
This guide from Medela was incredibly helpful to me in the first 2 weeks and helped me understand really how much milk my little one actually needed.