World Breastfeeding Week takes place from 1st to 7th August. Personally I don’t think it matters how you feed your baby so long as it is happy, well fed and that others support your decision.
I breastfed Grace for 9 months and, at the beginning I never felt support but I persevered. This time around I’ve been heartened by just how more support their is from all sides and, even though the early days were hard, I’m finding it easier and more enjoyable as the time passes.
Here are 5 things I’ve learned about breastfeeding this time around.
If at first you don’t succeed…
…then don’t beat yourself up. Over the first week or so breastfeeding is HARD. There is no two ways about it. I’m sure that there are some Earth mothers out there who might tell you different but I believe it is difficult for a few different reasons. Firstly I’ve found it physically difficult due to the soreness as you start to get used to it. Then there are the demands it puts on you and your time especially when your baby cluster feeds and his sustenance is solely down to you.
You can top up with formula
Because Rex was jaundiced he got behind on his feeding and, as a result lost a lot of weight. We had to top up with formula to help him along but we have found this useful to continue to do so as not only does it give me a break, it also means it gives Ross a chance to feed him.
Using a nipple shield is not a bad thing
As a general rule, nipple shields seem to be frowned upon, however, I’ve found them to be a complete godsend! When Rex was readmitted to hospital and I was trying to feed him, he was making a huge fuss trying to latch on and was using all his energy trying to do so. The sister of the SCBU came to me and gave me a shield to try. It worked and now I use it whenever Rex fusses. I use it as a starting point so once he has latched on and if he comes off again during the feed, I take it away again.
It’s a bit like playing a guitar!
This may sound like a strange one but humour me! When I learned to play the guitar I found it really hard on my fingers to start with as I tried to push the strings in to form the chords. Over the weeks I found my fingers hardened up and became used to it as I worked through the pain. A similar thing has happened with my nipples. To start with they have been really sore but, this has gotten less the more they have become used to it. I’ve also continually used the No Harm Nipple Balm by My Expert Midwife. It is a natural lanolin product which I find really soothing and very helpful in the fact that it doesn’t need washing off. You can also apply it using just one hand – helpful when your hands are full of baby.
Guilt is a wasted emotion
Whatever happens, however you choose to feed your baby, DO NOT feel guilty. Whether you breastfeed, bottle-feed or a combination of both so long as your baby is fed, happy and growing then it can only be a good thing. There is enough mum guilt without adding to it over how your baby is fed.