My breastfeeding journey with our toddler Rowan didn’t quite go to plan. I have to admit before and during most of my pregnancy with Rowan I was completely against the idea of breastfeeding, please don’t judge me yet! It was something that made me really uncomfortable when I saw women breastfeeding in public and basically I didn’t understand it, my ignorance – no one else’s.
Once we found out we were pregnant with him I was adamant that I wouldn’t be breastfeeding him, fast forward until a few weeks before my due date and I had completely changed my mind and couldn’t wait to begin our breastfeeding journey. I’m not sure what changed in me but all of a sudden I thought it was an amazing thing and I felt like a bit of an idiot for my previous pre-judged thoughts. I think part of the problem was that certain members of my family were saying that I shouldn’t do it as Alex wouldn’t be able to bond with the baby (which is a load of rubbish!).
Rowan was born via emergency c-section and immediately after surgery the midwife passed him to me for some skin on skin contact and immediately he found the place for food and latched straight on, he was the ultimate milk monster, and it was the most amazing feeling in the entire world and I knew I’d made the right decision.
Unfortunately, Rowan was born with a 90% effaced tongue tie, his latch was very poor and I gave up breastfeeding after five days as I was in too much pain. I was in floods of tears every time Rowan needed to feed and he was getting upset too as I had to keep unlatching him so Alex and I made the decision to begin bottle feeding him.
This time round I feel much more prepared, extremely positive and really excited about the road ahead with breastfeeding baby number two. I’m absolutely determined to make it work even if we find obstacles along the way. I’ve done my research, I understand more about how it works and know of where to go should I need assistance along the way.
The only thing I fear really is breastfeeding in public, it’s something I never got to do with Rowan as I didn’t go out anywhere during the five days I nursed him as I was either in hospital or on bed rest. I’m not the most confident of people and I’m extremely shy, so it’s going to be very interesting to see how I cope with that. If anyone has any tips for me or words of encouragement around breastfeeding in public please do share them with me.
I’m really excited to announce that I’ve been chosen to be a Medela Mum during my breastfeeding journey with baby number two and I’ll be sharing stories about our journey and also reviewing some absolutely amazing Medela products. I’ve also had the opportunity to ask Medela’s Lactation Consultant, Sioned, a few questions that I had and hopefully they’ll help others that may also have the same questions. Here are Sioned’s answers:
My little boy was tongue tied when he was born and I had to give up breastfeeding after five days as he was unable to latch properly and each feed was extremely painful and my nipples were very sore, so we reverted to formula feeding him which broke my heart but I had no idea what else to do and had no idea where to go for support. His tongue tie was snipped when he was two weeks old. I’m quite anxious this time round as I’m determined to have a successful breastfeeding experience and wondered what tips you could give me to reduce my anxieties this time round?
Every baby is different and whilst there is a possibility that tongue tie can be familiar it isn’t proven. Given this – this time round you may have a very different breastfeeding start and your newborn may not have a tongue tie.
What is important is that the valuable experience you had last time will mean you will pick up difficulties early and that you will ask your midwife to double check for any tongue tie at his first check and make a referral to the infant feeding specialist so that you can get it snipped early. Having this early support can help you to look at ways of latching on and finding a position that is comfortable for you both.
Having tender nipples is normal but excruciating nipple pain and cracking is not and are signs of a poor latch as well as a wedge shaped nipple – so look at them after feeding. Expect to have after pains which is different to nipple pain as you latch and your let-down triggers – these are overwhelming uterine contractions that do take your breath away but they are short lasting and do ease over the first few days.
If you are experiencing feeding problems you can express from birth and we would advise for this initiation phase that you hire a double hospital grade breastpump or if in the hospital use the symphony plus program. If baby isn’t feeding well, pump after every feed to help your milk come to volume and then when you and little one overcome those early days your milk is establishing and their ready, you can try using nipple shields to help with those sore nipples but it is with the advice of your midwife.
The key thing is lots of feeds and great support and advice. There are the national helplines as well as the Medela UK webpage, app and Facebook page with weekly drop-in-clinic for support.
How do I know if I’m producing enough milk and baby is getting the amount he/she needs?
In the first day or so your baby has super concentrate colostrum and has some body fat as a store, as your milk comes to volume. You will see his urine get greater in quantity and his nappy on day 2 onwards will feel heavier. Looking at his stools his poo will change from the thick sticky meconium as he takes in more colostrum and milk, and within 3-5 days after birth his poo will be loose yellow mustard coloured and lots and lots of it. This will be a key sign that you are producing lots of milk – the more poo the greater the volume.
He should settle after feeds for an hour or so but expect to feed every 2-3 hours. In the early days you will both be a little uncertain and feeds can take longer and you may find that one feed falls into the other but it does get better.
Weight is an indicator but expect a little weight loss in that first week but he should have regained his birthweight by days 10-14 , after this your baby will have growth spurts. You may not always see leaps in weight but you can see growth through his length and head circumference too. A baby that is alert, active and content means that you are on the right path, if there is steady or slow growth, your health visitor should carry out a feeding assessment and have a good chat with you to see if there are any feeding difficulties.
What’s the best way to care for sore nipples and engorged breasts?
Expect to have some tenderness in that first week as your nipples adapt to your baby sucking at a moderate vacuum and learns to breastfeed. To keep them in tip top condition apply nipple cream such as Purelan after every feed and you can use a little expressed milk and massage into the nipple. Change your bra pads every 4 hours to keep the breast and nipples dry as soggy breast pads are super foods for bacteria, especially if you have broken skin and nipples. You can air dry the breasts. Avoid using any moisturiser etc. that are perfumed as this may mask your unique mummy smell in the early days as you will have a flight path for your baby to help him to latch and feed.
To manage engorgement expect it for when your milk comes to volume around 3-5 days after birth but try and avoid it later on by feeding regularly, avoid wearing a bra that is too snug, empty the breast effectively with nursing or pumping.
To treat engorgement in the early days to get you comfortable – apply cool flannels, to ease, hand express a little milk off or have a warm shower to help drain and drip the milk. This can help to get baby latched on when they are really full and nipples are flat. Be cautious about expressing to empty in the early weeks when you are establishing breastfeeding as you may lead to having more engorgement – what you aim for is getting to comfort and being able to latch and feed baby easily.
If the engorgement continues and you start to have mastitis symptoms such as flu like, pain, red hot breast and inflammation – you need to feed more frequently, seek advice and support from your midwife to help and assess feeding, look at the latch etc., take pain relief, rest and recuperate and if necessary pump. If symptoms do not ease within 12-24 hours seek advice from your GP.
I will be keeping you all updated throughout our breastfeeding journey and if you have any questions for me or if you have any breastfeeding tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
Please note I wrote this before the arrival of our baby boy and have only just around to publishing it, I can’t wait to let you know how it’s been going since.