Breastfeeding and expressing: what you REALLY need to know
Breastfeeding can be a great experience - many mothers rate it as one of the greatest there is - but for first-timers in particular, it can also be seriously hard work. Here's the advice you really need, from those who have been there, done it, and got the Lansinoh to prove it.
And if you've an infant in the offin and would like more top tips from those in the know on this and other topics, come along to our first ever Bumpfest, a one-day event all about birth and your baby's first six months.
One mother-to-be wanted to know the truth about breastfeeding:
"It's really, really early days - I'm only 6 weeks' pregnant - but I want to be prepared to make my decision properly. What are the things no one ever tells you? "
Some of the responses were ... eye-opening
"Breastmilk is sticky, and you end up covered in it."
"BFing in the early weeks (up to 3-4 months) can be incredibly time-consuming. The baby has to learn as much as I did - we both got better at it."
"I couldn't express as it freaked me out, seeing my nipple stretched that far into the pump! And it took forever to get a dribble out."
"Exclusive expressing will give you twice the work, as you have to spend hours pumping then hours feeding. May actually be more than twice the work, as pumps aren't as efficient as babies."
"They don't tell you that some babies love breastfeeding so much they will never want to give up, even when they are toddlers and possibly even when they're off to school!"
"Don't start with preconceived ideas (mine was 'BFing is natural i.e. easy')"
But don't panic! You don't have to go it alone
"One thing they don't tell you is that there's loads of support available. So if you decide to exclusively express your local drop-in centre will be able to give you advice. "
"Most problems are fixable, but sometimes you have to try several things to get the right solution. No one who is properly trained will ever judge you for stopping breastfeeding at any stage."
And while it might surprise you in ways you weren't expecting...
"All the videos they show you in antenatal classes have a baby looking lovely and serene and feeding. They should have included the bit where your baby discovers your bra strap and starts pinging it, or whacking you with whatever you put in his hand to discourage it!"
"One thing they don't tell you is how far your nipple can stretch when a breast feeding toddler decides there is something more interesting somewhere over there - without letting go!"
Remember that, as well as all the health benefits for the baby, there are many, many (many!) positives for you
"Breastfeeding produces happy hormones which make you feel good, and helps your uterus contract."
"Once I'd passed the initial bump (a few weeks), it didn't hurt at all. And it was so convenient to feed DD on the go, and to settle her whenever she was poorly or upset. It's a miracle tool."
"It can be enjoyable. Honestly. Lots of advice telling you how good it is for your baby, but oddly not so much telling you how amazing it can feel if it goes well... When it's right, it's very right. And no one told me that! "
"I took it as a chance to sit down with my feet up and a drink, and watch tv or just rest for a bit. And stroke their heads, and stare and marvel at how I managed to produce such wonderful babies!"
So there you have it, the inside track on what feeding is really like.
For more information, advice and reassurance of what to expect when your little one arrives, book yourself a ticket to Bumpfest on Saturday 27 September. The day is designed to be a one-stop shop for parents-to-be, covering everything from birth (the myths vs the reality) to bonding, and all points in between. Get your ticket here.
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