Everyone knows the saying, you know the one, ‘breast is best’. It’s almost common knowledge. I’ve only just become a mother and knew pretty much nothing about babies and parenting until I became one, even that has only been a few weeks, and again, like they say, there’s no guidebook, no ‘technical‘ right or wrong, just practice and testing.
Looking back, I actually didn’t give breast feeding much thought, if any actually (maybe that’s due to denial or naivety) through out my pregnancy. I had tender and sore breasts towards the end of my first trimester, and ended up on a journey to Marks & Spencer buying a load of nursing (granny) bra’s (read about the whole pregnancy comfort haul here) which have actually been a total God send for every day since. Other than this early pain, I knew I wanted to breast feed, based on the whole ‘breast is best’ saying and of course, I want the best for my child, what mother wouldn’t? If anything I thought I’d do it for as long as I can.
As soon as I’d had Baby A at hospital, the nurses put him on my breast to initiate skin to skin, hormones, production and ultimately the mother-baby bond. Being my first child and having that experience right after the birth was lovely but surreal at the same time. Thinking that there’s something coming out of there, really?!
I stayed in hospital for 5 days and through out this time the nurses and my family would help with this soon to be breast feeding journey. The first few days production is actually colostrum, a baby’s stomach (rumoured to be the size of a pea) is so small that the tiny amount of colostrum produced is still sufficient, it’s high in nutrients and a little goes a much longer way versus breast milk once that ‘comes in’.
When Baby A is crying its either a dirty nappy, wanting a feed, wanting to sleep, needing cuddles or possibly some irritation or pain being felt. Knowing what the baby needs takes practice, understanding baby’s movements, types of crys, sounds and much more, of course every baby is different, it’s a whole other world. When it came to needing a feed I was taught the “burger” movement on the breast, squeezing a shape or expressing a little to encourage the baby to latch on. This was by far the hardest part to learn and has been ever since.
Latching has been painful, stressful, rewarding and all sorts of feelings rolled in to one. Having had a caesarean birth, the nurses helped with various feeding positions, it seemed at the time that when the nurses were around or family helped, everything was simple, but alone, I found this part the most difficult. Having the baby across the stomach can also be really tender following a caesarean, let’s not forget we’re talking major surgery requiring weeks of recovery here.
Once the baby was a week and 10 days old I felt like I must have been doing something wrong, so I think. My left breast became engorged and I was totally freaking out. How can I feed him with one boob down?! The pain was SO extreme I just wanted to avoid the left breast all together. Mum encouraged me to carry on and use a hot towel and warm showers through out the day and just before a feed to ease the pain. Hot flannels really helped, although its a major faff, if someone isn’t there to run to the sink and warm a flannel for you whilst you’ve got a screaming baby to feed, how would you do this?! In the end my gut told me to get over the pain and try feeding from the left. As much as it killed me with pain. It worked. The hardness slowly went over 1-2 days, although this felt like forever, especially if you consider the number of feeds over 24 hours (esp at night when you’re knackered!). I also bought a few nipple creams which I’ll be reviewing soon.
It’s been 4 weeks now and I feel like I’m slowly getting the hand of breast feeding. It’s definitely not as easy as I thought it would be and I have HUGE admiration for all the breast feeding women out there, seriously!
I’ve been using a variety of different techniques, products and even apps to help me on my journey. Having family around for guidance and support is also a total God send.
Love, Anisha xox0