This is my honest Ode To Breastfeeding. I’m not going to bother extolling the virtues of it because at the end of the day a fed and nourished baby is happy baby, regardless of breast or formula.
And for my guy friends – this’ll probably wander into TMI territory – you have been warned.At 14 months, Adelyn’s still getting breastmilk straight from the source (we really really tried but she just absolutely refused the bottle). Even though I’m back at work, and with her eight (!) teeth we still manage to get a morning and a bedtime feed in – I’m not in a rush to stop as I love the bonding time we get and I know it won’t last forever (because I have no intention of being GoT’s Lysa Arryn).
I’ve had some of my funniest, most memorable experiences of being a mum because of breastfeeding – from wandering outside with my nursing top still in feed position (i.e. exposed), to enjoying a walk in the woods with Adelyn dangling in her sling nursing happily. From leaky boob situations out in public (always wear a dark colour!) to now; prising her little hands away as they seek to pull my top down to get access.
I thought I’d read a lot of stuff to prepare for a baby before Adelyn came along and I was still surprised by so many things when it came to breastfeeding. Though I guess it was a nice surprise to discover that you (usually) don’t get your period if you’re Breastfeeding loads!
We had to have a C-Section to give birth so I had the worry about skin-to-skin and not being able to breastfeed straight away – I’m so grateful that she didn’t sense any apprehension and simply suckered on for a good 40 minutes as soon as I was able to hold her to me.
A lot of the books talk about the importance of getting your milk supply up and maintaining it – I was so worried about “what if I can’t produce enough milk for my baby?”. So imagine my surprise as I realised really quickly that the opposite was actually possible; Overproduction.
Milk went EVERYWHERE.
My bra size went up to EE, which I didn’t even know was a thing.
When you’re feeding your newborn baby on demand every few hours and your milk is literally spraying all over said baby, do you realise how many time you have to change them into dry clothes?!
Breastfeeding Adelyn always meant frantic screaming for “more muslins!!”, many bibs, those milk cup collector things and even that wasn’t enough to stop my poor baby from getting soggy.
I went through so many breast pads, and I tried all the brands (from supermarket to eco-friendly to bamboo pads to branded) and can honestly say that Lansinoh are the best (this isn’t an ad by the way). They could absorb a stunning amount of liquid and stay dry against your skin whilst staying quite discrete.
The Let Down Reflex:
My biggest shock was that when you experience “let down” it happens in both boobs – i.e. your baby is suckling on one boob and as the milk starts coming out (basically of it’s own accord as a trickle or a stream or a downright watering-can-style-spray) it comes out of BOTH nips.
It felt weird too – like a pins and needles feeling. Kind of shocking because who the hell is used to having pins and needles in their jugs, for goodness sake.
Hearing Adelyn cry would sometime trigger my milk let down. Having a hot shower would also set them off. Literally spent at least the first 5 months of being a mum with SOMETHING held to my breasts.
A Favourite Breast:
As we had a C-Section, it made holding her bloody awkward in those first few weeks – thank goodness they come out tinyish.
For some reason Adelyn was fine feeding from Left but struggled to latch and would get frustrated about Right – which meant Left was making a lot more milk than Right and I was panicking. The Rugby Hold didn’t work too well (as a way to try to let her feed as if she was being held to the Left but actually feeding on the Right) and I was NOT impressed when the health visitor thought it’d be a great idea to nurse lying down sideways – how is a woman who’s stomach muscles have just been cut through supposed to sit back up again to wind the baby? With said newborn conked out next to her?!
We managed in the end though, through perseverance and improving the latch and my nifty pregnancy pillow turned feeding pillow. I did dread feeding from Right for what felt like an age but was probably more like 3-4 weeks.
I now take it for granted that I’ve been able to breastfeed for a year now without much thought – she knows what to do and can basically attach herself from any angle. It’s not unless I stop and reminisce about the early days that I remember the extreme discomfort one’s nipples experience as they learn to get used to having a little being attached every few hours through the day (and night). I never had to use any balms but I do remember a hint of blood blistering and tenderness (it hurt to feel clothes against them FFS) – but thankfully that only lasted a couple of weeks and I barely remember it now.
They definitely got darker in colour too – I wonder if that’s to help the baby hone in on them…?
They go back to normal after a little while!
Pumping – Bloody Annoying:
After I discovered my alarmingly overzealous milk production in the form of poor Adelyn spluttering during her feeds, I found I had to pump a teeny bit before our night feeds (as she’d sleep for a little longer between feeds) to basically ease the pressure. I would also have to wake up in the middle of the night to pump even when she didn’t wake up for a feed because guess what? Breasts that are full of milk get pretty damn swollen and uncomfortable.
Top tip: a manual pump was easier than an electric one. That thing went with me everywhere at one point. On holiday, trips to the shopping mall – if I was out of the house and knew there was a chance that Adelyn would miss a feed, it was a boob-saver.
14 Months On:
Before I had Adelyn, I kind of figured I’d probably have stopped breastfeeding by 12 months. Yet a year went by and it still didn’t feel like it was time (even though 4 teeth had come through by then).
Yeah I have my days where I feel like this:
And sure, she’s developed a habit of sticking her other hand down my bra and slapping me mid-feed.
But hey – I don’t know how much longer she’ll want to come to me with her arms thrown wide – so I’ll happily go on for a bit longer.