Whilst breastfeeding came naturally to Isla it’s a skill that I had to improve over the first weeks of her life.
Now that she is 3 months old, and I feel I have completely mastered it, I can say I find it a really easy and satisfying way of feeding her.
Before having Isla, both myself and James went to a NHS breastfeeding class. It was only 2 hours and on reflection it was 2 hours really well spent. The class was run by a midwife and breastfeeding support nurse who provided us with lots of really helpful information including milk production, responsive feeding, benefits for mum and baby, positioning and latching on.
As first time parents we went in not knowing much at all but when we left we both felt really confident in our ability to feed Isla by breast. I say ‘we both’ because James has been vital in this journey too. Without his emotional and practical support in the beginning (making me two lots of sweet porridge and toast in the night haha) I’m not sure I would still be feeding now. During the class the midwife paid great emphasis on dads being heavily involved in feeding and I’m very grateful for that – I’ve got a (small!) reputation as a lazy bones and didn’t want James to think I was using feeding as a excuse to boss him around!
In the very beginning it felt like Isla was feeding almost all the time. She would feed every 45 mins to an hour for short bursts of 5 to 10 mins. Although tiring, I knew to expect this from what I had learnt at my class and I knew things would only get easier. Unbeknown to me until the class, babies are born with a stomach the size of small marble which means they are full up quickly on little milk and digest it at the same speed. Having this knowledge has definately helped our journey as I knew Isla was getting the right quantity of milk in her 5-10 mins of suckling and that her feeding every hour was completely normal. One less thing to panic about!
Now she is 3 months old our feeding routine is very different. She feeds every 2-3 hours for about 30 minutes. Feeding for this amount of time ensures Isla gets to the hind milk – the milk at the end of a feed, higher in fat content which will leave her feeling fuller for longer.
Isla isn’t on a bottle yet which means James hasn’t yet had a chance to feed her and although I don’t require as much of his support anymore he has his place in her feeding as the King Burper. He is phenomenal at getting a burp song out of Isla and is proud that no one else quite has his touch. Well done daddy Daws!
Shortly we will be introducing a bedtime bottle and I already have a stash of frozen breast milk ready to use. When I first started to feed I had milk in abundance and had no choice but to express it to take the pain away. I brought the Medela electric pump and couldn’t have been more pleased with it. It’s so simple to use and pain free. It also comes with handy sachets to store your milk which you can write the date and number of ounces on. Milk can be stored in the freezer for 6 months which works out perfectly for my plans to introduce a bottle of expressed milk shortly.
Below is a few of my breastfeeding essentials that I feel have added value to our feeding success (select the links in Italics to visit the site for each essential) –
Learn to latch – somehow reading guidance on this just didn’t work for me! Get yourself on YouTube where you will find masses of helpful videos.
Supportive nursing bra – I brought mine from Bravissimo and I can’t fault it one bit. It’s pretty (as pretty as nursing bras get!) and it’s amazing for discreet feeding. It has handy clips on the straps which detach the cup away from your breast so you can feed and then clip it straight back up. No fiddling required! It’s a gorgeous material and washes up really well.
Nipple cream – I use Lansinoh relentlessly after every feed. It’s instantly soothing and helps to prevent cracked nipples as well as being safe for your baby.
Breastfeeding pillow – these are available in most baby departments and are a must have, especially if you’re like me and have a bad back. Mine follows me everywhere I go (within reason lol) and ensures a comfy feed for both me and Isla. Mine is from John Lewis – Widget plus multi use pillow . The case is easily removed so it can be washed and the pillow also acts as a sitting aid for Isla now she is trying to sit up.
‘The little finger trick’ – this is genius and saves hella sore nips! If you want to remove your baby from your breast put your little finger between their gums and turn your finger about a quarter to break the suction then quickly remove your nipple from your baby’s mouth. Say goodbye to trying to pull your nipple out of their mouth! Ouchie
Diet – this is everything. If you thought you had an appetite when you were pregnant, think again! I make sure to eat little and often as I know if I’m fed, Isla is too. I make a conscious effort to eat healthy foods including fruit, veg, starchy foods like oats and potato, protein in the form of lean meats and dairy like milk, cheese and yoghurt. This keeps my milk flowing and results in a happy Isla!
Pump – I know I mentioned this above but I feel so strongly about it so I’m mentioning it again – Medela swing electric breast pump – ensure to shop around for this as the price varies from shop to shop. I brought mine directly from Medela as it was the cheapest at the time but now I’ve noticied it’s cheaper at mothercare. Try boots and John Lewis too.
If you don’t have time to attend a breastfeeding class I would highly recommend the online guide, Emma’s diary, for useful tips. It was my go to in the very beginning when everything was a guessing game!
I really hope this helps someone! As we all know every baby and every mum is completely different so what works for me might not necessarily work for you. I’m also by no means a healthcare professional so don’t take my word as gospel. There are plenty of helplines and support networks out there for breastfeeding so please don’t struggle in silence.
Let me know if you find this useful!