It’s been 20 days since I officially became a mother and with that a member of what seems to be an elite club of people who spend their nights staring down into the eyes of tiny people who feed at all hours. In those moments sitting in the dimly lit night whilst your partner snores away next to you, when those big eyes are staring back at you and you feel nothing but love, you forget that you haven’t slept for three nights, you’re middle of the night snacks are just out of arms reach, baby is already feeding and you need the loo!
Having opted to breastfeed the new addition to our family I entered this new chapter of our lives not knowing what I was doing, I had no idea what it would be like and from what I’d heard it was going to be hard. Everyone has an opinion on your choices as a parent and I lost count of the amount of times I was told breastfeeding was going to be hard, that if you only manage the first few days then switch to formula it’s okay, at least you tried. I was told it would hurt, it’s so painful that I’d spend days crying over the pain until I got used to it.
Overall everyone I spoke to about breastfeeding had something negative to say. It was worse than the birth horror stories people love sharing with pregnant ladies, I’d heard so much I even warned my partner of what was to come “I’m probably going to cry, it’s going to be painful and you’ll need to support me if I’m going to do this”
So what has it actually been like? Am I a crying mess? Have we switched to formula already? Do I have 10 Savoy cabbages clogging up my fridge already? NO!
When the midwife handed me this small soft bundle who was going to be dependant on me for everything they encouraged me to try feeding him. I chose not to take anything feeding related in my hospital bag to ensure I didn’t give up too easily. Of course my head was still filled will the breastfeeding horror stories I’d been told for the last nine months, all of that went out of the window in the moment my baby latched and fed from me.
It wasn’t painful, I didn’t cry, it was perfect.
Yes we fumbled around like two confused apes initially as we were both learning what to do, but once we got past the initial learning curve we were fine. This isn’t the case for everyone and for some people the stories are true, I’m just thankful that so far our journey has been great.
Day 1 – I could only get him to latch if we were skin to skin and both lying down in the reclining position, but he was feeding and thats all that mattered. The midwives were happy and so was I.
Day 2 – We managed to master the cross-over hold meaning I could feed him while sitting up, this made things much easier.
Day 3 – The cradle hold
After four days my milk really started to come in and as somebody who has never been very busty it felt like I was sporting footballs, not only were they huge they were sore. After a feed they went down but were still aching a little, this is where I’ve found the Medela Hydrogel pads to be a miracle worker, they cool and soothe giving you instant relief, they can be reused over a 24 hour period and so far work brilliantly.
It’s not all been 100% perfect of course, their have been evenings where we’ve struggled to get the perfect latch and it takes a few attempts, but if you don’t get it right that’s when it hurts, it isn’t supposed to hurt so I take him off and we try again. The last three nights baby has been very congested and this hasn’t helped him to latch at all, he’s finding it hard to suck when he can’t breath easily through his nose. We’ve managed to get past this by using saline drops in his nose before night time feeds making it much easier for him to breath. Those few nights of him being unable to latch easily led to me having rather sore nipples which wasn’t great but also nothing that couldn’t be fixed with Purelan nipple cream, certainly an essential to keep handy while your nipples adjust to their new life.
When it came to baby T being weighed to see if he had regained the weight that newborns tend to lose in their first few days I was amazed to find he had gone from 6lb 14oz to 7lb 10z and this confirmed for me that my boy was feeding and we were doing okay.
– Cue my silent cheers of success after knowing I was doing something right and my baby was thriving because of me! –
So far we have been feeding every 3 hours although the first few nights he did cluster feed all night long which was exhausting, thankfully a couple of weeks in we are past that and starting to establish a routine that works for us.
We’re going to be waiting until baby T is around 8 weeks old and we’ve fully established feeding before we try him with some bottles of expressed milk, this will mean dad can spend some time feeding the little man and he can still feed if we were to need to leave him with anybody in future. I’m looking forward to putting our Medela pump and calma bottle to the test!