A few facts to share about my early breastfeeding experiences
I wanted to share with you a few facts about breastfeeding. Most of these, I have experienced firsthand, due to me becoming a mum for the first time over the summer. Firstly, if you haven’t read my article “The Truth about Breastfeeding” check that out now. It really is a must read for any mum-to-be who plans on breastfeeding. Additionally, if you don’t yet know all the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding for both mum and baby, you’ll find all that information in my article on “The benefits of breastfeeding”.
I was recently reading a fascinating article about breastfeeding; it described how mother and baby share ‘messages’ between each other during this incredible process. It’s a really great read and I acquired some super interesting facts about breastfeeding which I didn’t know.
However, early on during my breastfeeding experience, I wrote down some facts, ideas and feelings about the whole process of breastfeeding as I saw it. Coming back to this now (my baby is now 6 months) it seems like an age away and many of the ‘problems’ I was having have completely disappeared.
Even so, I wanted to share these “facts” from MY experience, so that anyone going through the early stages of breastfeeding can realise that they are totally normal. Many are things that no-one ever tells you, but which are true for many mothers none the less. As a disclaimer, I must say that this is based solely on my experience and also on the experience of friends and acquaintances, and therefore won’t always apply to everyone.
Realities about my breastfeeding experience:
- For many, breastfeeding does make your nipples sore, but this eases typically after around 4-6 weeks. For me, stopping using any nipple cream actually helped as it allowed my nipples to toughen up – this isn’t the same for everyone though.
- Sometimes, especially in the early months of feeding, you may find yourself feeling reluctant to feed your baby and I certainly did. This can be incredibly guilt-inducing, but from my experience and from talking to others in the same situation, it’s completely normal too. Just remember the pain will ease after a few weeks, but everyone is very different.
- When you feed from one breast, the other one leaks and so it can be a good time to express from the other if you’re wanting to and can coordinate yourself.
- Most women have one boob which produces more milk – it’s important to use both however, otherwise you may look a little wonky.
- When your breasts get over full, it can be painful. However, after about 6 weeks the milk production seems to regulate itself a little more and therefore your breasts don’t often get quite so full.
- Some people find it painful to feed on a very full breast; I myself found the opposite.
- Baby feeds A LOT initially and then feeding starts to lessen and become more regular. Not all babies have a routine, but it usually becomes every 2-3 hours after the first 6 weeks or so.
- In the early days of feeding, some babies (including mine) poo every time you feed them. It can be a really good way of helping them go to the loo if they are struggling.
- On that note – baby poo does change colour – my baby had green poo for nearly two weeks and although it’s not always normal, after a lot of questioning and visiting my GP it turned out to be just fine. It also disappeared after two weeks.
- Initially babies can fall asleep during their feeds – this is apparently normal and completely fine. Giving their feet a tickle or giving them a little poke to wake them is what I was advised to do. As long as they are growing appropriately you know they are getting enough.
- Google is your friend and your enemy – try not to get sucked into online chats, unless answered by an expert. I read that cluster feeding can last until a year (when I was two weeks in and in a lot of nipple pain reading this nearly finished me). Cluster feeding lasted about 3 weeks for me; it’s different for everyone but it seems rare that it goes on for months.
- It’s a very strange feeling when your ‘let down’ happens – I get a tingly, almost stingy feeling in my boobs that I didn’t know would happen. But it’s good because it usually lets me know it’s nearly time to feed.
- You can use feeding as a time to get things done. I often use it as a time to call, message friends or even to send emails, do some work or do some online shopping.
- Waking at night and feeding is hard. I use a book or my phone and a dim light to keep me awake. It’s important (but very hard) not to fall asleep whilst they are on you or feeding so do whatever you can to keep yourself awake.
- It’s not easy, but it certainly gets much easier with time
The most important thing I would say is to make sure you get advice. Don’t be afraid to ask breastfeeding consultants, midwives, GP or health visitors questions about feeding. I had a great set of health visitors whom I could call during the day and who were always happy to answer questions.
Before you sign off with your midwife, make sure you’ve got places to go for support and contact information if you need to ask any questions.