If you’re reading this before your baby is here Tip 1 is something that I think really helped my experience to be such a positive one.
1.Express before: Hand or Pump? My opinion on both
From 38 weeks pregnant I started to leak very slightly and was encouraged by the midwife to hand express to help encourage my milk to come in. Hand expressing is simply cupping your boob in one hand and using your forefinger and thumb on your other hand gently squeezing them together around the darker area of your nipple known as the areola. I found doing this in the shower / bath was the easiest. I squeezed gently on and off for just a minute on both boobs and although only a few drops appeared this was an effective way to start my flow.
When I reached my due date I read the using an electric pump could bring on labour so I gave that a go for 3 minutes on each boob every other day. I used the Tomee Tippee closer to nature electric pump. I won’t lie, the first time I put it on my toes curled and I wondered what I was doing to myself but I completed the time and was relieved when it stopped. I so desperately wanted to breast feed but was wondering what I was letting myself in for if it felt like this. However, the next time I put it on it wasn’t as bad and it got easier the most I did it. I hardly pumped anything off but stored what I managed in my disposable freezer bags that came in the set just in case breast feeding didn’t take, I had a few I could use.
The NHS website is great for more details should you require them on expressing and storing.
2. Know your feeding cues
The three stages of cues I’ve read and discovered- mouth/ body/ upset
-The first mouth cues include licking lips, opening mouth and turning heads. Elliott turns into a goldfish when he gets hungry.
-Body cues include stretching, kicking his legs out and sucking on his hands
-The final the stage I hate and luckily have only had to experience this twice so far, both times as we were on our way home when Elliott gets fussy, goes red and cries. The cries mixed with my hormones are never good. I can’t help but join in with the tears and my boobs kill.
I found having Elliott close to me helps to recognise these cues early which I think helps to keep him calm and mean he doesn’t feel the need to cry to let me know he needs feeding. Jack also knows the cues to look out for which is helpful. If you’ve read my birth story here then you know that we were looking out for these cues from the moment he was born. When he first came out, 15 minutes later he was latched on to me and fed/ suckled for 45 minutes.
I’ve been told to try not to use a dummy as it would stop me recognising these cues but when the cries happen and he won’t settle until I’ve fed him and I’m not in a position to do it with being in the car or walking home; I have handed one over to soothe him but he spits it out after a few seconds once he’s calmed which is fine by me too. I don’t think any mum should be made to feel guilty for trying to soothe and comfort their baby.
3. Look at different feeding positions and get the perfect latch
Latching: Place your nipple near your babies mouth, touch your nipple to their lips, wait for them to open their mouth wide and then place your nipple in aiming for the roof of their mouth. I find it easier to hold my boob with one hand just above his mouth to help me to get my perfect latch. I use the fantastic app Baby+ that has videos to help with latching techniques if you need the support. If Elliott falls asleep on me, gently pressing on my boob above his mouth helps to encourage him to keep going. If that doesn’t work I rub his back using my fingers. I’ve also found that when he wouldn’t drink more but was still fussy, winding him before putting him back on helped.
Positions: Holly Willoughby’s book I’ve linked to on my top 5 pregnancy books was great for showing me different types of feeding positions.
These two are my favourites however,
Cradle Hold Laidback hold
4. Feed on demand
Ignore the timetables, the ‘what you should be feeding’ and for how long and how much to begin with and just feed feed feed! Don’t look at the clocks. Although I register his feeds on my baby+ app so that I can see how long, how often and which boob he feeds on I feed when he does the cues. I’ve read in so many different books and guides how this helps your milk supply and then you can worry about starting a routine later on.
5.Have the right equipment to help you
HELP I’m a Waterfall; this isn’t even an exaggeration. I hope my milk supply calms down but for now I’ve found that tucking a muslin into my top really helps us to both not end up soaked after a feed. I live in my H&M nursing tops, I have one in every colour available, I mention these all the time but honestly they are a MUST for me. I just can’t find a decent nursing bra that’s comfortable and easy to use so for now… bra be gone! This top allows me to feed him quickly and hold the muslin in place.
Nursing covers: In the beginning I used extra large muslins for nursing but then my sister in law gave me this nursing cover and it was a major game changer. I hadn’t got the nack of how to cover with a muslin without it falling or me flashing my boob. With this cover however I’ve been brave enough to feed Elliott out which has allowed us to have more freedom.
You’ll also need/ like to have just in case:
–Breast pads (I use tomee tippee which seem to hold my extreme flow)
– Nipple cream (I use lanolin- Don’t wait until you’re cracked or hurt to use it. It’s also great at preventing your baby getting dry lips)
–Nipple shields: I haven’t used these personally but have read how they can help feeding to be less painful, If you’ve used them, what are your opinions?
-Heat packs to help with let – down
-Ice packs to help with pain
Luckily I managed to have a quick 5 minute soak in the bath at night after Elliott’s tea time feed which helped not only my stitches and boobs but myself to wind down and reflect on the day. I’ve found however though that when my milk came in and my boobs were like rocks, the only thing that helped me was to get Elliott to feed.
And above all else, if it isn’t going to plan don’t be afraid to ask for help!
I know that I have been extremely blessed to have Elliott. He came out with boobs on his mind and has been such a good feeder but we’ve had our own struggles and curve balls. I was told to not wind him as he was a breast fed baby and they didn’t need to be so at week 3 when he was so fussy and wouldn’t settle, Jack suggested it was because he needed winding. I was so adamant that I’d been told not to it couldn’t be that but it was. You have to trust your own instincts and although listen to other people’s opinions… you know what is best for your baby. And if you can’t breast feed or decide not to then that’s ok. As long as your baby is fed it doesn’t matter how it comes… breast or bottle. Happy Mum = Happy Baby.
Please comment any useful things that you have learnt.