“I’ve had these nipples my whole life and I didn’t even realise how they worked!!”
When I was pregnant with my daughter I was hoping I would be able to breastfeed, it felt the most natural thing I could do and I’d also read all about the fab benefits for baby and mum.. some really surprising ones like Mums who breastfeed are less likely to contract breast or ovarian cancer or your baby is more likely to have good communication and speech skills?! Really ? I thought…but hey ho!! I wanted to try it anyway so all the possible positives were a bonus.
I have friends who have been unable to breastfeed for various reasons, so I was very aware I may not be able to…however, like many things when it comes to giving birth and babies I just thought, I’ll wait and see and cross that bridge when I come to it- so many things are out of your control when having a baby it’s best to try and stay chilled and not plan for the un-planable!!
Anyway to my delight when Elsie (7lb.7oz) popped out (not quite popped but this blog doesn’t need the graphic details of induction and stitches!) she latched straight on, with a little help from the midwife! I was amazed! They have such a natural instinct to start suckling immediately!!
After getting cleaned up and waving my husband off at 4am I was on a ward left with other new mums with their little ones…it felt like an age until Rob would return at 10am… I didn’t sleep, instead I just sat gazing at Elsie, wondering if and when I should change her nappy, if she was too hot or cold and trying to recount the birth story in my head to share with my girlie friends the next day!!
We spent most of the next day in hospital, at the time this felt very frustrating as I just wanted to get home, but when I look back it was this precious time and with lots of help from the midwives I learnt how to breastfeed, holding Elsie ‘like a rugby ball’ under your arm, or holding her across the body ‘nose to nipple’ also one lovely midwife taught me how to express, it was a complete shock when I realised nipples were like sponges and the milk came out from several ducts not just one little hole! What?! I thought…I’ve had these nipples my whole life and I didn’t even realise how they worked!!
In the early weeks Elsie and I both got better at breastfeeding, at first I had to go downstairs in the middle of the night get the TV on, the lights on and get very comfy as it wasn’t a quick process trying to get her to latch on and stay on. Also I had a small problem with one of my nipples which needed a bit of extra encouragement, but practice makes perfect! It always pays to have a glass of water, the remote control and your phone to hand, because once she was latched on I didn’t want to move an inch! When the milk came in on day 3 or 4 things got interesting (large and engorged) I tried the usual things, cabbage leaves from the fridge, frozen peas etc.! With a lot of patience from a lovely midwife we got everything working again and it was easier from then onwards.
I remember using scarfs and stretchy vest tops to help keep my dignity in public, (as well as the fab Frugi Breastfeeding Collection of course)! My first outing alone and breastfeeding in a café was interesting…. A bit of a juggling act, holding the muslin (Elsie was a very sickie baby), getting her into position, unclipping my bra, trying not to flash the old man sat to my right, as I poke my nipple in her face.. yikes!!) But I was really proud of myself for sitting there and managing it. It gave me loads of confidence to go on and get out and about alone more and more!! You soon learn about the local places that offer a breastfeeding corner.
It was really great once we’d got to grips with it (it’s a team effort), breastfeeding is so convenient! You can just stop and feed wherever, no carrying of bottles, water, powered milk etc. In the car, out for a walk (literally on the move on a nature trail once) on the side of a road, at a food festival, in cafes and pubs – literally anywhere. Obviously I was discrete and once you’ve nailed it it’s great! 😀
I breastfed Elsie until I went back to work when she was 6 months old. Getting her onto the bottle was a little bit of a challenge and next time around (I’m pregnant again) I think I will express more and make bottle feeding a little more frequent. I did express a bit with Elsie using a fab electronic pump machine thing (which sounded nuts and I felt a bit like a cow in a milking parlour) but I think it will give me a little more flexibility and will make the transition slightly easier next time.
I was so lucky to be able to breastfeed and I’m so glad I did. It felt like a special bond Elsie and I had and I feel I was able to give her the best start in life. 🙂
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