Boobs the words...
Good morning everyone! As I was snuggled up in bed feeding my little one this morning, I thought I should write my thoughts on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the most awesome thing I’ve ever done. Every day since my baby was born, I’ve assisted in his growth and nourishment with milk. I love booby snuggles and spending time with him every day. I enjoy it.
Here’s the thing about getting to where I am… it did not come easy. It was really really hard. For weeks afterwards when seeing lactation consultants I would tell them “I would labour everyday if it meant I didn’t have pain breastfeeding”. I had a really rough time to begin with. In fact it took me 12 weeks to feel completely comfortable breastfeeding.
So why did I have a problem? There’s a growing knowledge base about tongue and lip ties. I had Ollie assessed a few times and his tongue didn’t seem too restricted. The thing about tongue and lip ties is they’re more about function rather than appearance. Everybody has a tongue and lip frenulum – it is only tied if you’re suffering symptoms. We certainly had quite a few symptoms that needed to be addressed. My son would feed for 2hours at a time, on one side. He would fall asleep before being full. He had awful wind pains. My nipples were cracked and bleeding. By day 10 they were so damaged I needed to express and bottle feed until we could have the procedure done to release the ties. Once the ties were released we had some improvement with symptoms but not completely. I worked with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to get a proper latch and I also saw a paediatric chiropractor who massaged Oliver and helped to release some tight spots in his neck. We saw the most improvement after seeing the chiropractor. (If you’re having ongoing issues with your baby, I recommended seeing one. They don’t “crack” babies like they do adults. Alternatively there are physiotherapists and osteopaths who have similar training.) The tricky thing about having your baby diagnosed for a tongue and lip restriction is that you need to see someone who is trained specifically in tongue and lip ties. Your GP usually won’t be able to diagnose because they are not trained in assessing them. It’s a bit of a tricky business.
After this time however, things started to improve. Oliver and I eventually got comfortable together on the breast and the pain started to subside. Because Ollie wasn’t transferring milk properly (hence the pain) there was a chance that my milk supply would have dropped. Lucky for me that didn’t happen. By maintaining a good food and water intake I always had enough milk.
Breastfeeding is now second nature to me. It comes really easily. I breastfeed everywhere I need. If my baby is hungry, I feed him. In my nearly 11 months of feeding I have never had a problem or been asked to leave somewhere. Although there is ongoing media about people being kicked out of cafes etc. I have never had any issues. Breastfeeding mums have a legal right to breastfeed anywhere anytime. You can check this Australian Breastfeeding Page for more information. I believe here in Australia we have an increasing acceptance of breastfeeding in public places. People will surprise you! If anything I get compliments about feeding my baby.
Here’s my other issue with breastfeeding… why can’t we trust ourselves. I spent so much time worrying; what if he’s not getting enough, will he be hungry? Is he upset because I don’t have enough milk. No. I trusted my body to birth my baby, of course I should trust that it will make milk for me! Trust that your body will do the right thing. Why wouldn’t it? The best indicators of making enough milk are weight gain and wet nappies. If your baby has these things you’re doing a great job!
If you’re thinking about breastfeeding, you might be thinking what do I need? Just like everything else baby related, there is a huge amount of choice of breastfeeding things to choose. To be honest, you don’t really need any of those things. You need you and your baby.
In the beginning when I was learning to position my baby, I used pillows… just the pillows from my bed. I did like a “U” shaped pillow when sitting on the lounge although it wasn’t essential. I enjoyed a product called lansinoh on my nipples when they were particularly sore. When I was damaged, I borrowed a breast pump from a friend. I had considered buying one, however there could have been every chance I wouldn’t use it… they’re not essential unless you’re having problems or you want to express down the track. Save your money and see if you have a friend who isn’t using one before you go and spend the money… they’re not cheap! They can also cause more troubles then they’re worth… breastfeeding is supply and demand for the first few months. What your baby drinks today, your body makes for tomorrow. If you’re pumping your body will make an excess which can make it difficult for baby to attach to the breast. Bare breast feeding is best when possible!
What about breastfeeding support? There’s lots of support available for breastfeeding mums. The first port of call is the Australian Breastfeeding Association. You can call them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and they can talk you through any breastfeeding issues. There are lots of facebook groups and pages that are pro breastfeeding. Badass Tribe of Breastfeeders Queensland and Breastfeeders in Australia are a couple of great ones for support. Pages like The Milk Meg and Pinky McKay offer some great breastfeeding advice. Surrounding yourself with other breastfeeding mums helps you get through those tricky times too.
Some more brelfies ... bed boob, lounge boob and beach boob
My pearls of wisdom regarding breastfeeding:
· Stick it out. Get through the first 6 weeks if you can. It’s hard. It’s also worth it
· Seek some breastfeeding support via an IBCLC if possible. The Milk Meg lives at the Sunshine Coast. She is brilliant – she also does appointments via skype
· If you’re having ongoing pain and trouble, consider having your baby assessed by a knowledgeable provider for a tongue and/or lip tie
· You’re not alone. The nights are long and the days are short. It won’t last forever
· When in doubt, whip it out. You can never overfeed a breastfed baby. Babies don’t need schedules; they probably didn’t read the same book you did
· Trust your body, it’ll be making milk for your babe!
At the end of the day, we all make the best decision for us and our baby with the information we have at that time. Perhaps breastfeeding just didn’t work for you. Perhaps it was better for the family that you switched to formula. That’s ok too… you don’t love your baby any less. You’re doing the best thing you can by them at the time… that’s what parenting is all about!
Are you a breastfeeding mum? Did you find it easy or hard? Leave me a comment and let me know about your experience.
Have a great day!