This ‘Newborns 101’ series will follow along with the first couple of major hurdles and milestones of having a baby to help out any other first time mums out there like myself in hearing some experiences from other mums who have actually been there. You can check out the previous posts in this series here.
Today I’ve got the lovely Lauren from Create Bake Make sharing her wisdom on surviving breastfeeding issues.
Before I even fell pregnant I knew that I wanted to breastfeed our babies and like so many women out there I naively believed it would easy – ha! Just like my difficult pregnancies the breastfeeding journey I went on with both of our boys was extremely hard at times and on more than one occasion I found myself in tears, feeling like a failure and just wanting to give up. What kept me going however, were those special moments (which were few and far between in the beginning) when we managed to complete a full feed without any spills, the look they would give me when they met my eyes while feeding, the milk drunk grins they would give and that precious time after a feed when they would lie against my chest and I could relax and simply enjoy them.
By sharing some of the challenges I faced while breastfeeding, I hope that I can help other Mum’s feel as though they are not alone and reinforce that there really is no ‘normal’ when it comes to breastfeeding.
Expressing Breast Milk
Both of our boys were born early (30 and 32 weeks) which meant neither of them were able to breastfeed for some time. Knowing that I wanted to breastfeed, I began expressing within hours of their births and over the months that followed I became very familiar with my breast pump!
My top tips for expressing are:
- Find a quiet spot and have everything you need – phone, remote control, magazine, photos etc within reach.
- Relax! Yes it’s easier said than done but it really does impact the amount of milk you will express.
- Distract yourself, watch tv, read or call a friend to catch up. When you are not thinking about what you are doing you relax and produce more milk.
- If you are separated from your baby look at photos or videos of them or sit with a blanket or piece of clothing which belongs to them.
- Double pump if you can. Yes it does require some manoeuvring to begin with and I did feel like I was at the dairy, but it drastically cuts down the time and the quantity of milk is actually higher in many cases than single pumping.
I was ‘lucky’ enough to experience countless blocked ducts when breastfeeding both of the boys. As soon as I felt a hard area in my breast I immediately took action by:
- Keep feeding. The sucking action of your baby is the best way to clear a blocked duct. Offer the breast which is blocked first as their sucking action will be stronger when they are hungry. You can also try massaging just behind the blocked duct while feeding or expressing to help get it moving.
- Massage. Gently massage the blocked duct when you are in the shower to help get the milk flowing again or use a heat pack to warm the area.
I experienced the joy of mastitis four times with our youngest little man. Fortunately my first bout coincided with my postnatal check up and I was able to start antibiotics within hours which I soon learnt was the key to getting on top of this condition. If you think you have Mastitis, visit your doctor ASAP! In the meantime, while it may hurt or be uncomfortable, keep feeding as much as you can to try and help drain the breast.
If you are an over thinker like me, one of the hardest things about breastfeeding is not knowing how much milk your baby is actually getting. As both of our boys were slow to put on weight, I naturally questioned my supply and worked myself into a state over it many times. Although there is medication you can take to boost your supply, I also found the following worked well too:
- Looking after myself. Yep it sounds easy but making sure that I was drinking plenty of water, eating well (think Oats for breakfast, snacking on almonds and dried fruit while feeding) and trying to relax as much as possible had a huge impact on my supply.
- Natural supplements. I found a great supplement which was filled with all the good stuff (think Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle) you need while breastfeeding and as it was in tablet form it was really easy to take.
- Expressing. It may not be the most glamorous activity, but I found expressing a couple of times a day after a feed helped to increase my supply and gave the added bonus of being able to have a supply of breast milk stored in the freezer.
If there is one thing I have learnt from breastfeeding both of my boys, it’s that every breastfeeding journey is different and the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up or compare your breastfeeding experience to others. Yes it’s cliche, but what’s most important is a happy and heathy Mum and Bub. Lauren lives in Brisbane with her three boys (two little and one big) and blogs at Create Bake Make, which she started as a way to justify her serious baking addiction!! Other than her delicious recipes, she shares stories from her life with her gorgeous family and is one of the creators of the awesome Fabulous Foodie Fridays link party (check it out if you haven’t already, it is truly awesome). You can also check Lauren out on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
Did you struggle with breastfeeding? What worked for you?
Today I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT (I blog on Tuesdays)
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