what you wish you had known...(70 Posts)
Am due next week am I feel quite relaxed about the birth itself but am worried about getting breast feeding off to a good start. What do you wish you had known before you started, or what would you have done differently?
Breast feeding is great its convenient, no bottle sterilising needed etc. however, you are the only one that can do it. It can take longer to establish than you think. You need to learn very quickly how to do it lying down as this will mean that you can sleep. It will save you a lot of money as formula is expensive.
It is very rewarding.
It is also not the be all and end all should you decide that you want to go down the ff route.
On and drink lots of water, and eat healthy food, preferably protein rich.
Before you start breast feeding you need the following
Lots of water
Ask for help, and if you're not happy that you've got it right after asking ask again and again and again!
That sometimes babies don't latch and that bf doesn't work, no matter how hard you try. I really hope you get off to a fantastic hassle free start but I wish somebody had told me this!!!
My DS is 9 weeks old. Before the birth I could have answered any question you like about bf! I bought a whole nursing wardrobe and didn't have a bottle in the house because I was going to bf for a year. You could not have had a more supportive DH for all things bf than I did.
Fast forward to the first two weeks after the birth - DS screaming at my breast whenever I put him to it, pumping every 2 hours (day and night). No midwife, lac consultant, LLL leader or anyone else able to work out why he won't feed.
My advice (in addition to reading about bf):
- READ on NHS website or similar how to sterilise and make up bottles
- find out where to hire a Medela Symphony (hospital grade pump) if you need it
- keep in the house: at least 1 bottle, some Milton tabs, a couple of cartons of ready made formula. I know some people say this makes you likely to give up but I think it's bollox, better to be prepared for all eventualities.
I had to send a friend out to buy bottles, steriliser, formula etc because I had no idea what to do. It made me feel like a massive fucking failure (bf isn't working and I don't know how to feed my baby I'm such a bad mother) and I started to have really dark thoughts (DS and DH would be better off without me and my useless body).
The Ina May Gaskin book has really good pictures and descriptions of bf positions - was a great help when I was trying every which way to get DS latched in hospital!
Also have heard rave reviews from friends about the BrestFriend feeding pillow.
Things noone told me (but which I figured out, using the principle that nature can't be entirely stupid):
That it is entirely normal for babies to cry a lot/ stay on the boob for hours when a few days old. This is because they want your milk to come in. Just keep feeding (and ignore the midwives mutterings about bottles) and your milk will arrive. The baby will not starve in the interim!
A big baby is not hungrier and does not need top ups because your milk is not in on day two. Nor will a baby die who doesn't feed in the couple of hours after birth. I know number of women who have given bottles (on mw advice) to stop their baby crying on pn wards, and then not bf much thereafter. Which if fine, if they wanted to bottle feed, but the advice that they must top up an 8 pound baby is wrong.
That tiny babies are ruled by their digestive systems. They get hungry, this makes them frustrated. It oesn't occur to them that it is hard to latch when they are screaming. Cuddles and and skin to skin can be the remedy for this.
Sometimes babies just cry. But in the first few weeks it is a good idea to put baby to the breast whenever it cries as this is great for your milk supply.
That babies often prefer one boob to the other. I have a slightly inverted nipple which my two did not like. So they always got that one first so that I didn't get lopsided. When I was very engorged it was harder to latch them on this side so I used an ice cube to pop it up.
At about 14 weeks or so it is fine to no longer feel engorged so much. Your milk is still there.
Breastfed babies can go ages (a couple of weeks even) without pooing after 6 weeks or so.. They don't need orange juice, however much well meaning neighbours recommend it.
Breastfeeding has a psychological element so relax and trust nature and your milk will come. New babies can even drag themselves to your nipple and latch! My DD1 did not feed until several hours after birth when she suddenly did this as I was keeping her in my nightie top!
Breastfeeding can be sore (in which case get your latch and your baby's mouth looked at) but it can be entirely painless and lovely too.
This boils down to: just keep feeding, and it will come good.
Sorry OP not trying to be grim but I would not wish what happened to me and DS on my worst enemy.
I am sure you will be fine!! Good luck for the birth!
Upshot of what I'm saying: fail to plan, plan to fail.
Oh yes, good point from Zara- I had back up bottles and a couple of cartons of formula in the house just in case.
While I didn't need them it did help I think to know that one way or another the baby would get fed. Sometimes when they are screaming it cn feel like you will never get them latched (which made me very upset etc) and as Zara has said in some cases they simply don't. It helped me to know that there were available alternatives.
That there will be a day (or 2) in the first week where baby will feed around the clock. Totally normal and will not last but you will be SHATTERED!
Good luck, also it can be quite easy
Research how to BF, with latch and hold.
I didn't and relyed on midwifes to help, I was so close to giving up but my DP did the youtubing and talked me through it, unfortunaley the midwifes have enough to do without spending ages making sure you are holding baba properly.
Remember it does get easier
Stock up your cupboards, you will have the biggest appetite man has ever seen.
Feeding by the clock (ie 20mins every 3 hours) will not work. Your supply will not get established unless you feed for as long and as often as baby wants to. Do not listen to Gina Ford, some midwives or DM / MIL who may tell you otherwise.
Have a read of this free to download booklet Little Book of Breastfeeding
contains lots of advice (and good pointers) from BF mums. Not just highlighting how fab it is! Good luck.
If you're committed to bfing then prepare to do NOTHING else but that for the first days and weeks. My DH literally put food in my mouth for me and put glass to my lips to drink. Make sure DH is totally on board. There will be times at 3am when you're crying your baby is crying your DH is crying and you'll just want to give up. I'd read all about bf possibly being hard so I was expecting it to be hard but I realised when it WAS hard at first that deep down I'd thought that it wouldn't actually be hard for me..... So that was a shock. Turns out I'm not superwoman :-/
Don't get too tied up on the "tummy to mummy, nose to nipple, gape...etc" mantra. All babies are different and you need to work out what works for the two of you. My DS never gaped and I would get more and more frustrated with his bobbing head and flaying scratchy arms and hands and I remember thinking "it didn't look like this in the Photos!!!" and i could feel myself getting angry and resentful that DS "wasnt doing it right". even now he doesn't gape, he sort of purses his lips and Hoover sucks my nipple into his mouth!
Also, it's not strictly true that if bf is done correctly it doesn't hurt. Once you do get it and your baby gets it then it won't hurt but until you get there, chances are there will be a lot of discomfort and sore nipples. Even with a perfect latch the let down might be painful at first. Lots and lots and lots of nipple cream.
But it does get better. Even when you think it won't. Ask for help over and over and over. Ring a couple of helplines even if you think you're doing fine. Just have a chat about how great it all is if nothing else!
And if it doesn't work for you then that it fine. Don't judge yourself with your pre baby standards as EVERYTHING WILL CHANGE!!!! A happy mum is a happy baby, that's what counts.
I love bf now and can't imagine stopping.... DS is 5 months old. The comfort and convenience element of bf almost outweighs the health benefits!
Chances are your baby will latch on beautifully immediately and feed like a champion and you'll never have any issues :-)
Oh and you'll sweat- I had armpits like rotten onions for two weeks!! No amount of washing and deodorant seemed to deal with it. Must have been hormonal.
Oh and don't let anyone say your baby should be feeding for a certain amount of time. My DS never fed more than 15mins at any one feed. He's still a power feeder.
That it is totally exhausting and painful
Well, it was for me.
I should have asked for more help/support at the beginning. Baby was feeding for 45mins+ at a time and every 2 hours. I literally felt like a cow stuck on the bed/couch.
Your boobs feel enormous and are constantly sore.
Nipples were bleeding, cracked and I literally cried if I knew the baby was going on the left breast next! She was fine once she was on, but it was nothing like the adverts!!!
Needless to say, I only managed 3 weeks.
I then cried and cried feeling like a complete failure putting her onto bottles.
She's now on bottles. What do I wish I knew with this? That Tommee Tippee bottles are BLOODY AWFUL (avoid avoid avoid) and I should have bought Dr Brown's in the first place.
Baby is now a happy settled baby on Aptamil from Dr Brown's bottles. Happy days.
ps. Hopefully you will have a much better experience of breast feeding than I did. If i have a second child, I will try again it hasn't totally put me off, but it was a lot harder imo than I thought it would be, and wasn't a lovely bonding experience at all sadly.
breastfeeding is a mindset
I was determined to feed DD and i did for 3 years
if you had told me that when she was 3 weeks old i would have laughed in your face
your baby will probably want to feed a lot in the early days and weeks - this is normal
you will feel some days that all you do is feed - that normal
I remember being told on here that my job in the early days is to feed my baby and it was a job
trust your body - it has just grown a baby. You now need to trust it to feed your baby
download the phone numbers for La Leche League etc - they are sooooo helpful
be prepared for cluster feeding - not all babies do it, but lots do. My DD did it from 5 - 9 pm each night.
good luck and hopefully all will go well for you
Oooo also a friend said to me during the 6 week growth spurt when I had to cancel all my plans
'You are all he knows, your his mother and he needs you, more than you need anything else'
I spent the whole day in bed with him, it was from then on I looked at feeding positively rather than 'I need to finish feeding so I can get on with such and such'
Feeding is an excuse to slob and watch tv, read a book ect... Enjoy it rather than trying to hurry them to get things done.
Whatever you decide don't feel guilty, your not a failure... A failure would not feed a baby. Formula isn't poison!
Good luck x
Put Lanisoh on your nipples after every feed. They will get a bit sore in the first couple of weeks but the Lanisoh heals them really quickly. You won't need it at all after the first month.
Newborns can feed for hours at first to get your supply going. By six weeks they may only feed for ten minutes at a time.
It's no problem if they just want to comfort suck for a minute to get to sleep whereas you would be annoyed if you had to chuck a whole bottle of milk.
I wouldn't recommend having formula in the house unless there isn't a big supermarket where you can go to get supplies. It's too tempting as it can look like an easy way out, e.g. when you're tired at night is the worst time to be making important decisions about your baby's diet. By all means give your baby formula or mix feed, just make the decision in the daytime when you can think clearly and rationally. Sometimes one feed is bad, e.g. sore or takes ages, but the next one is fine, it was just a blip. Ff babies have bad feeds as well where they bring it all up or fuss at the bottle.
Don't assume your midwife or health visitor knows all about breastfeeding. They may only know what they learned in their training course and may not have breastfed their own children if they have kids. Look at the Kellymom and La Leche League websites or put a post on here, the birth clubs will have lots of mums with experience of breastfeeding issues.
I happily bf both my DD's and only had problems when giving up (mastitis 3 times!) Wanted to recommend BioFemme cream and compresses which I thought hugely superior to Lansinoh as it absorbs much better than the Vaseline-like Lansinoh. The compresses are excellent in the first couple of weeks when you are sore because you can leave then in your bra overnight etc. good luck.
Chances are your nipples will hurt in the first few weeks - someone told me to be prepared and do everything you can do to keep yourself sane in those early days.
For me this was
- building bf slowly, going at your own pace so you and your baby get used to it, for me it was doing it once a day for 2 days, twice a day for 4 days, then 3 times a day for four days etc
- hiring a medela symphony pump, expressing about every 3 hours and giving this instead of formula (although I did give one bottle of formula before bed for a couple of weeks so my stored ebm supply could build up - this stopped completely when DS was 4wo)
- using the medela calma teat to give the ebm/formula - I believe that this teat 'taught' DS to latch on better as it mimics the boob's shape and suction needs.
- lashings of lansinoh cream when required
- going to a bf group at the local hospital, getting support and encouragement from the leaders and other mums is, I think, what kept me going and stopped me from giving up.
Hopefully, you won't have any pain and won't need this advice!
If you aren't sure what your baby wants, stick a nipple in its mouth.
Echo the advice above re baby and for you...
I felt horribly uncomfortable for a good few weeks with massive engorged boobs, nothing fits, bra too tight and digging in. It all adds to the stress and upset (if there is any!) Make yourself as comfortable as possible as it will help you relax- get in bed, wear pjs all day, no bra, whatever!
I'm bfing dc2 at the mo and have had it easy compared to some, but feeling so uncomfortable is enough for me to throw in the towel some days!
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