Hopefully you’ll have read my post on Top 10 breastfeeding tips and Breastfeeding past a year already, but I also wanted to write about my story from the start, so that when it is over I can look back and remind myself of how it worked for us.
The first few weeks:
In hospital Athena latched on (albeit painfully!) right away, and started getting the colostrum that about 4 different Midwives called ‘liquid gold’ (as if trying to persuade me, I’d already made it clear I wanted to breastfeed!) and throughout the first night she either slept on my chest or fed from it! At this stage each time she latched on was pretty painful, and I distinctly remember looking away from her when I winced in case she could sense I was in pain (as if she could even focus her eyes, but I think I was delirious from lack of sleep!)
I should probably also mention that I had an elective C section, I didn’t labour at all. I also didn’t hand express or anything in preparation, and my colostrum appeared as if by magic anyway!
Once my milk came through properly on day four, the previously slightly cracked nipples started to heal and harden up and since then I’ve not had to use nipple cream. Other positions we’ve used are lying down, for in bed night time feeds, her lying on my chest (I let her root around and find the nipple herself, and this ‘tummy time’ helps her strengthen her neck muscles. When you put her on Sam’s chest she will work her way all the way up to his chin, which is impressive but very natural as it’s a babies instinct to seek food!
For the first two weeks I was looking for her feeding to fall into a pattern or routine, but then quickly realised that she wants food when she wants it, no routine to be had at all!! Once I embraced that, and stopped stressing inputting feed times into an app on my phone things got a lot easier! The other thing that makes it easier was having the full support of Sam, he’d get me a glass of water or cuppa if I’ve run out, or finished one and she’s still feeding!
Feeding in bed at 2 weeks old. I love this photo oodles! Sam had just said “you’re amazing, you are making food and nourishing our baby from your BOOBS”
After 3 weeks I tried expressing (using a manual pump) during Athena’s longer afternoon nap, and to my surprise it wasn’t that tricky, though the first 2 or 3 pumps are a bit painful each time! I got about 3oz the first time, then the next morning woke up with engorged boobs as she’d slept 6 hours, so I fed her from one and got 5oz from the other! For the first few months I pumped during her morning nap, especially if my boobs start leaking! The main reason for starting to express was so that Sam could share feeding, and to get her used to a bottle so that I could be away from her for more than 3 hours max at a time! We were lucky in that she fed from a bottle really easily without it affecting breastfeeding.
Milk drunk at a month old!
After the first couple of months we continued to feed on demand, and until about 9 months she needed a feed for naps and at bedtime. As she got older she got more wriggly which often made feeding in public a bit of a fiddle as arms and legs flailed everywhere! I never used a cover up or anything other than a muslin because I think it draws more attention to us!
Once we started weaning at six months feeds slowly began to reduce to around 3 a day by 10 months, and then the morning feed got dropped more often than not (which made me a little sad as I loved that little morning quiet time!) although more recently she’s started to want one again which is nice! Now I operate a ‘don’t offer but don’t refuse’ policy which works for us.
Feeding in London outside a pub last week. I’ll be honest, there was a pint of cider just out of shot.
I’m genuinely lucky that I’ve never had any bad experience feeding in public at all, I remember being worried about it the first time, but it was on day four when my milk came in and we had gone out for the day, I was sat outside at a restaurant in the glorious sunshine and even managed to finish off my chips at the same time! Once I had done it the first time it got so much easier, and we’ve fed at the beach, in church, in shopping centers and on trains, to name but a few. I have never, and will never, feed my baby in a toilet cubicle or hidden away!
I think women should be able to feed their children whenever (and however!) they want but I do think that there is a need to attempt to not flash your boobs around when possible (flailing arms and sudden unlatching being the things that make discreet hard!) as I’ve seen women just leave their boob hanging out long after the baby has nodded off/crawled off to play almost as display of ‘yeah, what you gonna do about it?’ which I think is unnecessary and will only serve to give other breast feeding mothers a bad name, which is of course, not helpful!
Medela put together this infographic (click to expand and read more about the study) and to be honest, none of the figures surprise me, as every breastfeeding baby and mama is different and things change constantly, since Athena has been battling post jab side affects she’s been feeding a lot more than our previous 2 feeds a day, and we’re feeding again out and about during the day when pre-jabs she wasn’t interested any longer!
So that’s my breastfeeding experience so far, I only hope that when baby #2 comes along that things will be as easy as they have been with Athena!