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First time breastfeeding tips / things you wish you knew

47 replies

HelloWorld2577 · 10/07/2021 08:41

Hi all,

I have two children and pregnant with 3rd. Wasn't particularly interested about breastfeeding with previous so went straight to formula and this was completely accepted by all health practitioners I came into contact with so I am extremely happy I was never pressured!

But this time around with it being my last pregnancy I would really like to successfully breastfeed.

I would just like BF mums tips on must haves like the best pumps, products like lanolin or others, manual & electric pumps, collecting devices such as Haakaas, coverings etc.

Would just like to get myself off on the right foot by preparing!

Thank you

OP posts:
SuperSange · 10/07/2021 08:47

Don't expect it to be easy to begin with. If you buy a pump, buy electric. I bought a second hand Medela swing and it was fantastic. You can buy plastic bags to freeze the milk in to store it. Not sure what you need to cover; it's perfectly possible to BF without showing any skin at all if you layer your tops. I wouldn't get any creams or anything yet, you may not need them and they're easy enough to buy if you do happen to need them.

maehsa · 10/07/2021 08:48

Read about cluster feeding. Be very ready for it!

katienana · 10/07/2021 09:02

I used Lansinoh from day 1 and never suffered with sore nipples. So I would 100% recommend doing the same before and after feeds.
Just be prepared to feed a lot! People will say baby can't be hungry again but they might be thirsty or after comfort. Either way the best way to get established is to feed feed feed.
It might not hurt and it might be easy, I found it really straight forward.

Amirite · 10/07/2021 09:03

It’ll hurt the first few weeks but gradually gets much easier until you don’t even feel it anymore. Cluster feeding (little and often) is super normal and does not mean you’re not making enough milk. Trust your body and give yourself a break. Have drinks and snacks within an arms reach as you’ll be hungry and thirsty all the time!

IwasntGoingToBeThatMum · 10/07/2021 09:09
  1. Read Read Read and read about it

2. Harvest colostrum ASAP before birth, speak to your MW and get syringes from her
3. Take harvested colostrum to hospital (read how to do this)
4. Practice if you can with a doll/sack of potatoes (yes! Potatoes) different positions of BF
5. Practice cupping breasts /nipples into different shapes to help with latching issues (research on Internet)
6. Get a nursing pillow
7. Get some nursing bra's slightly bugger than you are now
8. DO NOT TAKE ANY FORMULA TOP UPS SUGGESTED BY MIDWIVES..... DO NOT DO IT... only until weight is measured days to a week later if necessary
9. Be prepared for tits and tears day (day three to five) when your milk comes in
10. It may take a little longer for milky-way to come in if it's a traumatic birth
11. It will hurt towards milk coming in day when baby latches, like a little vampire sucking BUT this draws out the milk and it will stop once milk is in, if BF is still painful a week in get Hv/ MW advice as latch may be wrong
12. Dont believe it if a MW tells you baby has no tongue tie. Lots of them talk crap, id you suspect tongue tie as feeding isn't going well/poor weight gain ask for the hospitals lactation consultant
13. Might not be tongue tie it might be lip tie or even a recessed lower jaw
14. Try not to panic if you can't due to medical emergency but IF YOU CAN... GET THAT HOUR SKIN TO SKIN IF NOT MORE AND BF ASAP
15. Invest in different size breast shields for your pump, make sure you use the right size
16. Everytime baby even whimpers put to the breast
17. They only feed about the size of a cherry worth of mikk atvthe start so it's often often often not every three hours!
18. Sing whilst feeding to promote bond, oxytocin, positive association, weight gain
19. Take vitamins
20. Drink like a fish
Roseability18 · 10/07/2021 09:10

My tips:

Lanisoh nipple cream is great - use it after every feed in the early days and it stops your nipples getting cracked and sore.

A couple of comfy nursing bras - I like the Bravado Body Silk ones.

Pump - I love the Medela Swing mentioned above but I’d probably wait to establish feeding before buying one as they are not cheap. I find expressing quite a hassle so would only do it to get a night out away from baby, not just to let someone else give a bottle for fun! The best bit of breastfeeding is that it’s so handy (once established) - no cleaning bottles etc.

Google ‘one up one down’ method - easy way to adapt your existing clothes for breastfeeding.

Don’t be scared to ask for help! The midwifes in hospital gave some good advice to me, but I had to ask for it. The letdown reflex can be uncomfortable but this improves a lot over the first few weeks so don’t be put off. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a good book to read (despite the cringe name!).

Good luck! I am writing this feeding my 2 month old while she gives sleepy smiles - it’s the best feeling.

IwasntGoingToBeThatMum · 10/07/2021 09:13

Don't use nipple cream from the start as this interferes with the heal prick test, only use it if you need it..... I've never needed it. If BF is all fine there is never a need for cream xx

IwasntGoingToBeThatMum · 10/07/2021 09:17

Sorry that was a bit Baz Lurhmann, Don't Forget to Wear Sunscreen type of post 😂

IwasntGoingToBeThatMum · 10/07/2021 09:21

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jamsandwich1 · 10/07/2021 09:25

It gets so much easier! Stick with it and in a few weeks it will be like second nature.

ANP88 · 10/07/2021 09:35

Congrats OP!

My advice is always to do what works for you and baby. See how you go and don’t let people pressure you into anything. This is your decision. Go with the flow and dont be worried if things don’t work out either way. Some babies will only take a bottle, some only breast. It’s all good!

My best tips are:

Invest in an Elvie pump. You already have 2 kids, so a hands free pump will be a life saver. The after service is great, so any problems, email them. It’s expensive, but worth every penny. Mine started leaking and I had a new set sent down within days. Wait to buy this until you know what you want to do and how baby is getting on.

Nipple shields are amazing. Modela sell the best ones. Check the sizing too.

Lanolin is good and cheap so try that too.

Stop and give yourself a break if there is any bleeding etc. This is where nipple shields can really help. A good latch shouldn’t hurt. Some babies are better than others, so if it doesn’t work, switch to bottles and you can still express if you want to.

You can control your supply, so just know that any bumps in the road, you can slow or increase supply as you wish.

Spend time in hospital making sure baby has a good latch.

Keep formula on handy ready.

Don’t be scared to introduce a bottle early. I promise, it won’t mess up latching once you’ve got that nailed.

Cluster feeding in the evenings is crazy. Be prepared to spend 2 hours feeding. Get your partner on board for cooking, cleaning and bed times.

There are plenty of positions to bf. Including lying down. Great for snuggles!

Pumps are great for let down if your engorged. Mastitis is super painful and will leave you feeling like you have flu. If you’re breasts feel uncomfortable in between feeds, use a pump to encourage let down.

The Hakaa didn’t work for me. Elvie do a similar one called Elvie curve, which I think looks better, but I never tried it. Again, it’s expensive, so do some research.

Exclusive pumping is doable, but tough as hell. It requires round the clock pumping, which means you can be up through the night feeding baby, then pumping. If you choose to do this, get two pumps / double pumps.

Muslins are great for covering. Get some good maternity bras too. Don’t be ashamed to feed in public. A well placed muslin will stop anyone even noticing. There’s also plenty of clothes available for bf mothers out there too.

You can get milk storage bags to stock up if you do pump extra. Check out online how to store milk. It can also be used in baby food like baby rice and cereal for weaning.

Embrace combination feeding if you struggle with supply etc. It’s rarely discussed, but definitely a best of both worlds option.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

ArchbishopOfBanterbury · 10/07/2021 09:35

Fill a sports bottle of water, to keep in arms reach, before you start to feed. Breastfeeding made me instantly parched, and being "trapped" and thirsty was so hard. Ditto going for a pee.

If you do have any pain, and lansinoh isn't helping, other creams are available. It turns out it's possible to be allergic to lanolin, and that was a big cause of my pain, rather than the solution.

Don't stress about pumping and bottles until breastfeeding is second nature for you and baby.

I got myself far too worried about it, it never worked for us and baby never took a bottle (and I think in part that was down to how stressed I got and him reading my mood.) Second baby I'm just not going to bother.

TooMinty · 10/07/2021 09:36

As you have older children, you need to get stuff to entertain them while you feed the baby. Depends on their ages but I usually tried to read a story. Or go to Toddler Group so they have other kids to play with and adults to help out. You don't need lots of equipment, I think the most important thing is clothes you are confident feeding in public in. I did the one top up, one down technique by wearing a strappy vest from Primark under a t-shirt. H&M used to do good nursing bras too. Make sure your partner/family are on board. Partner to do housework/food prep. Family so they don't whine about wanting to feed baby themselves. Good luck x

BertieBotts · 10/07/2021 09:45

Find some IBCLCs or breastfeeding specialists to follow on social media. The constant drip drip of info is really helpful. I like Lucy Ruddle, LMJ Feeding Support, The Eco Midwife, Milk Matters infant feeding support.

Find out where your local support is. Understand that midwives can either be brilliant at BF support or terrible or just a bit lacking. Health visitors generally terrible or lacking, occasionally good. This is just because their basic training on breastfeeding isn't very detailed. It's still a good idea to ask your midwife first, but once you're discharged from midwife care it's worth locating which of the following exist near you:

NCT (breastfeeding counsellor/support group)
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers
Baby Café
Sure Start peer support group
La Leche League (LLL leader)

Then the kind of "gold standard" in breastfeeding care is an IBCLC. You can search on IBCLC GB to see if there are any local to you. Sometimes they run private support groups for a small fee, or free. Other times they work purely in private practice with paid consultations.

IME breastfeeding is not so much about how prepared you are, although knowing how it all works/how it's meant to work is helpful, it's mainly about what info you get when you have questions or problems. If you struggle or even just wonder for example with frequency of feeding, it can be helpful if someone says no don't worry this is normal, it will pass, vs if someone says oh no, that sounds terrible, do you think you're not making enough milk? That introduces doubt and worry in and you can get stuck in a top up trap where you're supplementing which reduces demand on your boobs which reduces supply which leads to more topping up, etc.

But on the other hand, if the feeding frequency really is unusual, then being told to just keep going because it's normal isn't necessarily helpful, as baby might have some kind of problem getting enough milk, in whether it's a low milk supply or problems with milk transfer. And just keeping going can then result in slower weight gain or (again) lower demand on your boobs resulting in less milk being made and you can get into all kinds of problems. In that scenario you'd have benefited from someone saying oh no actually, that doesn't sound quite right, let's have a look at a feed and see what's going on here. (And then offering support that's not just formula top ups if you do need a bit of extra help).

Learning about every possible problem in advance isn't helpful - it can make you worried and paranoid that things are going to go wrong, when in all likelihood they won't. Knowing where to go for accurate information and support if you have questions or problems is (IME) much more helpful!

MyFloorIsLava · 10/07/2021 09:48

My tip: yes, the baby can be hungry again already. Breast milk digests faster than formula and the consistency of it varies so your baby may need more frequent feeding than you're used to. It settles down.

FrancesFlute · 10/07/2021 09:52

It isn't easy.

Get help with latch.

Nipple shields can do wonders. I used them every feed for about four months. I couldn't have carried on if not. Some people say baby won't get enough using them, but its just not true. My MW recommended as I was at my wits end and in so much pain. They saved our 'journey and son ended up on 91st centile for weight.

FrancesFlute · 10/07/2021 09:56

Oh and dry nipples after a feed. If you don't and pop your bra and top back up when they're wet, it sticks and is like ripping off a plaster on already very sore nipples Envy

whereislittleroo · 10/07/2021 11:17

Learn how to breastfeed laying down.
Be prepared for cluster feeding.
The right clothes help with feeding in public. I bought a bunch of nursing tops with hidden zips or folds. You can also wear two tops, lift one up and pull one down for easy access.

BirdIsland · 10/07/2021 11:59

Keep asking for help, don't feel like you should have it nailed within days or even weeks. We have an amazing local breastfeeding support group and I remember a few weeks in having a group of ladies stood around me in Costa all looking at my boob to check DDs latch. If you can find one of these groups they are a huge source of support, they usually have Facebook groups too.

Bex000 · 10/07/2021 12:22

Mama mio nipple balm liberally after every feed for the first month or so!!

HelloWorld2577 · 10/07/2021 22:37

Thank you everybody wow. So many helpful pieces of advice! And many things I hadn't even thought of!

OP posts:
Alwayschilly · 10/07/2021 22:50

Your baby might feed what feels like ALL the time! This is normal. I had no idea and was surprised by this. Once I came to terms with it as being normal I got on so much better.

Foxhasbigsocks · 10/07/2021 23:02

Used to work in bf suppprt (peer, I’m not an hcp)

Mine are

  1. buy a bf book and read it now. When pg is the best time to read it. With a new born it will never happen! Lots of things that when they crop up you won’t be blindsided as you will already know about it.

  2. join a bf support group now - hopefully there is still one going near you even if only virtually. La leche league is great

  3. know where to get help - make a list of bf groups, helplines eg the la leche league helpline is amazing. Know which sites to use eg kellymom is an Ibclc and a la leche league leader and is evidence based

    Seen many mums successfully bf subsequent l.os having previously ff!
Foxhasbigsocks · 10/07/2021 23:04

Meant to say the bf books I think are best are the food of love - cartoons, very practical and matter of fact. Also the womanly art of bf - the la leche league (lll) book. The lll book is huge but there is almost nothing you would need to know that isn’t in there!

Elune · 10/07/2021 23:07

It's short-term pain for long-term gain. The first few months can be really hard, BUT once you get over the hump, it will almost certainly become really quick and easy. Once we finally got established, it was so quick and easy to feed her anywhere. You just have to push through the early bits to get there, but once you do it's so convenient and baby learns to feed much more quickly!

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