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What advice would you give a first time BFer?

(40 Posts)
ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Tue 14-Jun-11 10:47:25

Am currently 24+3 with DC2.

Never attempted to BF DD, for many reasons. I was young and very body conscious and the main reason I never tried was the constant anxiety of people seeing my breasts. It was a stupid reason and I do regret not even trying.

Now after, having a baby and being pregnant a second time, I am much less body conscious than I was and am thinking I would like to give BF a try this time. This will be my last baby so my only chance to try.

Don't want to put pressure on myself, so if any of you has any advice for me of things I will need, how to do it, or any other essential niggets of advice, I would really appreciate it smile

A bit nervous and apprehensive of it hurting and don't know what to expect. So please be honest smile

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Tue 14-Jun-11 10:48:10

Nuggets* obviously blush

VoilaAnotherGimlet Tue 14-Jun-11 11:16:52

I'd probably say don't expect it to be easy but after the first 4 or 5 weeks it suddenly is easy - so keep it up if you want to! I fully expected to fail to bf so it has been a delight for me, but hard at the beginning. Savoy cabbage is your friend. Also drink loads water. And eat like a pig.

I don't know if my experience is typical though, looking fwd to reading other posts.

notso Tue 14-Jun-11 11:32:57

Be open minded but determined, I have friends who were half hearted from the start and didn't make past day one and also friends who were convinced it would 'work' and ended up depressed and guilty when it didn't.

I think understanding that although it is natural it is something you both have to learn and that can take a good few weeks is helpful.

I am on DC3 and only just learned that the more you feed the more you make, and that growth spurts happen and my LO's were trying to make more milk by feeding more rather than not getting enough milk and needing top ups.

With reguard to pain, there is usually a reason and therefore a soloution, though I will admit to spending 8 weeks curling my toes everytime DS fed from the right side until one day it just didn't hurt, however the support round here is pretty much zero. Hopefully you will have more.

roundthehouses Tue 14-Jun-11 11:54:43

notso put it really well. Its hard to urge people on without feeling like you are just adding pressure instead of helping. You may well need to work at it a bit, it might hurt, s/he might want to feed almost constantly at times. But it is so good for them, and you, and as you get the hang of it you really feel the benefit of always having food on tap, as it were, no trying to make up a bottle (or warm it) while the baby is hysterical, or while out and about.

With ds1 it hurt quite a bit and it was sheer bloody mindedness that I had to battle through until about 11 weeks, he had a tongue tie which caused bad latch etc. I then fed him until 20 months very happily. With ds2 I was steeling myself for weeks of pain, in the event I think it was a bit sore for only a few days and haven´t had any problems yet (15weeks). I have friends who said it has never hurt at all, ever.

www.kellymom.com is a great resource, can be a bit confusing to wade through but the search facility is good and should be able to answer most questions. Also arm yourself with numbers of local la leche league, you can always call them if you aren´t sure what you are doing and they are lovely.

thesurgeonsmate Tue 14-Jun-11 11:55:23

The advice I would give is to be clear about the telephone numbers they give to you call for advice, or make your own list of telephone numbers to call for advice. The only foot I put wrong in sorting out my breastfeeding issues was wasting time locating telephone numbers.

TadlowDogIncident Tue 14-Jun-11 12:22:19

It may be natural, but that doesn't mean that it's easy - you and the baby both have to learn, and it takes time.

Ignore people who say if it hurts you're doing it wrong - for a lot of people it really, really hurts for the first couple of weeks, even if the latch is good, and then settles down. Having said that, it's always worth getting someone to check your latch, because if the baby's positioning isn't right then it won't stop hurting.

Be prepared not to be able to do anything much except feed for the first few weeks, and make sure your DH/DP knows that too and is prepared to pick up the household slack. Lots of babies cluster feed for hours in the evenings - my DS did and it was a real shock that there was absolutely no way I could cook dinner for the first few weeks, because I was lucky if the feeding stopped for long enough for me to go to the loo.

Make sure you always have a glass of water in reach while you're feeding: you get very thirsty.

Feeding out and about is much less embarrassing than you might think - I've never even noticed anyone looking. I wear a vest top under another top and pull the vest down and the top layer up, so there's almost nothing to see.

All I can think of that you need are nursing bras (Royce are good) and stretchy vests. If you want to express milk so that someone else can give the baby a bottle and you can have a break, no doubt other people on here can recommend brands of pump - I never got on with expressing so can't be much use there.

Post on here if you have feeding issues and don't have RL support (or even if you do) - tiktok in particular is very knowledgeable and helpful, and there are lots of others who know all about BFing.

peanutdream Tue 14-Jun-11 12:27:26

get to six weeks without supplementing or making any knackered decisions if at all possible

get help asap from LLL/NCT/IBCLCLC/BfN/SupportGroupNHS

instruct people to get you water/bring you food

EauRouge Tue 14-Jun-11 13:10:00

Yes, agree with what others have said. Go to a LLL group now so that you can get as much info and support as you can before your DC arrives.

And give yourself time, no one is expecting you to be out and about, BF like a pro and in your pre-pregnancy clothes when your DC is only a week old. Be kind to yourself and make sure you've got your DH and the rest of your family onside.

Get your DH to cook you meals you can eat one-handed!

kookysides Tue 14-Jun-11 13:12:01

Your local Children's Centre will be able to give you advice and support, helpline numbers and access to breastfeeding counsellors. Ask your midwife for any local breastfeeding groups or Baby Cafes and visit them before you have your LO to get to know where the suport is. Baby Cafes usually have 'peer supporters', mums who've breastfed, who've also had a bit of training to support others. It's the best thing you can possible do for your baby so Good Luck!

Cosmosis Tue 14-Jun-11 13:13:59

lurk on here a lot to realise what is normal - seemingly constant feeding early on, cluster feeding, growth spurts etc so you are prepared to be tied to the sofa for a few weeks.

CointreauVersial Tue 14-Jun-11 13:18:59

Lots of good advice!

Try to get the latch sorted as soon as possible, and don't persist with a feed if the baby isn't on right - it will knacker your nipples in no time. I spent three hours with an NCT BF counsellor to get it right.

Even so, expect it to be sore for a few days, but just persist, it will get better.

After each feed, smear some milk over the nipples and let it dry - sounds strange but it soothes.

Don't worry about being stuck to the sofa with a cluster-feeding babe - it means someone else will be making the tea, clearing up etc. etc!

ohnororo Tue 14-Jun-11 13:30:19

Don't expect to do much except feed for the first few weeks. Get a very comfortable chair, a pillow (an ordinary pillow works fine) and a lot of DVDs/sky plus/boxsets. Try to have help around for your older child and breastfeeding is very time-consuming in the beginning. Try to stick it out for a few weeks and it will get easier and easier. It only hurt me the first week until I started to really pay attention to baby's latch each time he went on and would unlatch him and put him on again if it hurt. Watch YouTube videos of breastfeeding/latching so you can see how it should look once baby is on. It's really great once you get the hang of it, much easier leaving the house with baby, you just need your boobs and a scarf if you're worried about getting your boobs out. I ended up feeding everywhere and stopped bothering with a scarf most of the time as it got in my way, people didn't really notice/care. I also loved the extra sleep, no getting up to make bottles. I stopped at 8 months (3 weeks ago) and am already kind of wishing I'd gone longer!

friendcat Tue 14-Jun-11 13:31:41

Sounds harsh I know, but the best advice I was given (by my hairy old MW back in the day) she pointed to the little scrap that was DS1 (now a 6ft 21yo!) stuck to my engorged, aching boob and said, "Its not about you anymore" It taught me to put aside my own feelings, those pains and annoying leaks and look at the amazing good its doing my baby.

Its hard but then the rewards are worth it. Hope it all goes well for you two

ohnororo Tue 14-Jun-11 13:32:22

Don't expect to do much except feed for the first few weeks. Get a very comfortable chair, a pillow (an ordinary pillow works fine) and a lot of DVDs/sky plus/boxsets. Try to have help around for your older child and breastfeeding is very time-consuming in the beginning. Try to stick it out for a few weeks and it will get easier and easier. It only hurt me the first week until I started to really pay attention to baby's latch each time he went on and would unlatch him and put him on again if it hurt. Watch YouTube videos of breastfeeding/latching so you can see how it should look once baby is on. It's really great once you get the hang of it, much easier leaving the house with baby, you just need your boobs and a scarf if you're worried about getting your boobs out. I ended up feeding everywhere and stopped bothering with a scarf most of the time as it got in my way, people didn't really notice/care. I also loved the extra sleep, no getting up to make bottles. I stopped at 8 months (3 weeks ago) and am already kind of wishing I'd gone longer!

ohnororo Tue 14-Jun-11 14:28:54

Oops don't know how I double posted?!

mrsgordonfreeman Tue 14-Jun-11 14:42:22

^

What they all said.

I found MN invaluable. It gave me the knowledge and confidence to continue when, had I been a little more naive, I might have started supplementing.

You have asked the right questions at the right time, finding out about bf when the baby's already here is too late imo.

TadlowDogIncident Tue 14-Jun-11 15:18:04

friendcat, I don't think the MW's advice was good, actually. I'm pro-BF and (with hindsight and now that DS is 10 months and I'm down to just morning and evening feeds) glad that I managed it for as long as I have, but I don't think struggling on at all costs, including your own mental health, is wise or good for the baby. If you find after a few weeks that you're miserable and BFing is getting in the way of your bonding with the baby because you hate it so much, there are much worse things than throwing in the towel and giving formula.

TadlowDogIncident Tue 14-Jun-11 15:20:48

Sorry, OP, my post above sounds really negative - you will probably be fine.

There is one thing I should have added, though, that no-one warns you about: it can be as hard to stop BFing as it is to get started! If you will need your baby to take a bottle at any stage, it's worth introducing one early (could be a bottle of EBM, doesn't have to be formula) and making sure you do it regularly. We didn't and had total nightmares when I went back to work, and actually I think that's the thing I most wish someone had told me.

mrsgordonfreeman Tue 14-Jun-11 15:49:52

Tadlow, I agree, but there is a danger that someone can fixate upon bf as the source of all their problems when it really isn't, they pack it in and find that little's changed but now they feel guilty about stopping.

Debs75 Tue 14-Jun-11 16:00:32

Take each day as it comes. Every feed you manage successfully is a bonus.
I told myself with DD1 that I would give her 1 bf, then it was 1 day, then 1 week and on and on until she was 8 months old when I stopped.

As others say it isn't as easy as some make out. I have been lucky with my dd's, they all took to it but ds was a different story and we struggled.

Try and be calm when you feed and always take the time to get a good latch as first time bfing can be painful if they are just sucking nipple. Get comfy in a chair as you have more support then the bed. Experiment with different holds. Ask the hospital as well if there are any bf counsellors you can talk to for support.

It helps if your dp and family are supportive and will be aware that during the first 6 weeks you feel like a milking machine so they need to keep you well watered and fed. If dp wants to get involved then let him do the settling down or bathing instead. You hear of so many dads who feel left out and that pressure can make mums stop.

PrincessOfWails Tue 14-Jun-11 16:06:02

It might not hurt at all - you could be one of the lucky ones. smile
I was indifferent about bfing but now it's the zeal of the converted...

Don't be afraid to ask for help - the advice above to have phone nos ready is good - and in the hospital be insistent. That might be the toughest bit. And keep asking, keep asking if you're not getting the answers.

Think in terms of small targets. First, try to manage 1 week. Then another week. Then maybe a month, and go from there - because 'breastfeeding for 1 year' is a big target, but doing it for 1 week is doable, and will make the next week even more doable; before you know it, you'll be sailing through. That advice - from a friend - helped me a lot. (When I was knackered etc, and thinking everything was crap, I could say 'well only 4 days to the end of the week and then I can stop' - funny, though, I never did...)

It's great that you're really determined. Don't think in terms of success/failure though - it's awful that women feel so bad because they don't manage to bf for whatever reason. Tadlow has made the same point very well: work at it, but if it doesn't work out, move on - no need for shame, crying, a lifetime of counselling and beating yourself up etc.

PrincessOfWails Tue 14-Jun-11 16:06:50

LOL, x-posted good and proper with Deb! Same advice - day at a time! LOL

TittyBojangles Tue 14-Jun-11 18:53:13

Don't underestimate the support you will need from your DP/family, even if bf is going well and normally. If it is a struggle as it can be at the beginning then their support will be essential. Try to educate them on what to expect if they have no expreience with bf i.e. baby is likely to be feeding LOTS and LOTS, so you can avoid and 'oh he/she CAN'T be hungry AGAIN' 'are you not overfeeding that baby' comments that can really undermine your confidence.

MN is a great place for advice, but do remember that you tend to get a skewed view of bf as lots of ppl post on here with their problems. But it is useful to be able to recognise problems if they occur such as thrush/mastitis/tongue tie so you don't waste time wondering if things are normal.

And definately try to attend a bf group before your LO arrives, make friends with some bf mums, find out where you can go for help in the early days, does your trust have an experienced bf support system etc. The bf helplines are good too, but its helpful to know where you can go if you need rl help. Remember that lots of mws and hvs aren't that well trained in bf support and can give some dodgy advice.

CamperFan Tue 14-Jun-11 20:07:18

Don't feel pressured to do things because other people around you are, eg. expressing/top ups (unless there are medical reasons of course). Forget Gina Ford type routines for a bf baby for the first couple of months - ime, they are not geared up to successful bfing. Expect it to be hard work - it might not be for you, but it could well be. And if it is, you need to be a bit bloody minded about it and prioritise feeding over anything else. Your DH/DP can do housework, cook, etc and the house can be a mess. Your older DC will not be harmed forever by you focussing on bfing for a few weeks, in the grand scheme of things. It REALLY helps if your DH/DP is completely on board and does some reading beforehand. Hassle MWs into giving you as much support as they can and find out beforehand where you can go for help. Get the MWs to check for tongue tie while you are still in hospital.

And definitely take it one day at a time.

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