We have almost completed four weeks exclusively breastfeeding and to say I'm proud is an understatement. It was around four weeks with Darcie that I gave up, she wouldn't latch without the aid of a nipple shield and she wasn't gaining weight (due to the shield effecting my supply) and so I turned to formula. At that point in time, for us, it was the right thing to do and I do not regret my decision.
This time round is a completely different story. Henry latched really well from the offset, he even latched himself whilst I was in recovery without me even realising! Despite it going really well there has been times when I have wanted to run to the supermarket and buy formula. But thankfully I have had a very supportive husband and we worked through some of the rougher times together. Now I know I am only almost four weeks into breastfeeding and all this could change, but I really do feel we are 'there' now with feeding.
So what are my top tips for coping through these first few weeks when at times you feel like just giving up?
1. Ask for help
There is no shame in asking for help, whether it be from your partner, midwife, health visitor or a friend (I even pleaded for help on social media!!). Sometimes I think women (including me at times) feel that asking for help in regards to feeding is a sign that we're struggling and are not doing our "job" properly. I know that's how I felt with my daughter. This time round I was quite open and honest with midwives and asked for help as soon as I thought there may be an issue. I remember on my first night with Henry in the hospital he kept going on and off my boob so I asked a midwife to observe a feed. He wasn't quite getting the "gob full", as she put it, that they need for a good latch. So with that in mind I tried again and then we seemed to have got it right. However, after around a week my nipples were incredible painful and cracked and the tears came with every feed. At times I would really shout out in pain and I kept pleading with Jamie to get formula - but knowing how much I wanted to be able to breastfeed this time round he ignored my requests (thankfully!) and instead we tried....
2. Nipple Shields
I used nipple shields on the effected breast for two days whilst I gave them a break. It really did make feeding all that more bearable and really helped with the healing processes. I felt like it was a bit of a last resort as I was worried that it may cause nipple confusion, but as I was using it on only one breast it didn't cause us any issues.
3. Nipple cream
If you're going to try breastfeeding then go out and get yourself Lansinoh HPA Lanolin right now! This stuff is amazing and helps to soothe and protect. I find mine get quite irritated when wearing a bra but slathering this stuff on acts as a barrier. It also helped when I was so cracked!
4. Breast Pads
When your milk comes in it can get a little messy at times, breast pads help to stop any unfortunate wet patches that may occur. It is worth mentioning here though that you may find that you need to try different pads to find ones that are comfortable for you. I have found some (cheaper) ones can irritate me quite a bit so I sometimes just resort to putting a muslin cloth down my top!
Breastfeeding can get quite lonely, especially those long night feeds. When you're about to nurse make sure you set yourself up with something like the TV, your phone or a good book. It helps to keep you awake too... I have been guilty of falling asleep if I'm feeding whilst laying down so I always now try and make sure I'm distracted!
6. Food & Drink
You must make sure you eat and drink plenty! It's a good idea to keep a snack and drink close by whilst you feed. I find that I get particularly thirsty during the night feeds and so always make sure I take a large drink to bed.
Whilst at times I have wanted to throw in the towel, 90% of the time I have (so far) really loved breastfeeding. This time round it has been completely different and I don't know if its because I'm in a much better place mentally and physically than I was with Darcie or if Henry has just taken to it better than Darcie, but I'm so thankful I have been able to have more success this time round.
It is worth remembering that the first few weeks really are the hardest and if you can plough through them it get's a lot easier from then on. I'm hoping we will continue our breastfeeding journey and hope we don't encounter too many bumps along the way.
Did you/are you breastfeeding? What advice would you give to mums to get through those first few weeks?
Mummy B xoxox