Mum, Mo’s Breastfeeding Story
Did you know you always wanted to breastfeed?
No, I didn’t. I wasn’t even sure I definitely wanted to get married and have a baby for many years. So, details of baby care were not upmost in my mind. Even when I finally got my head around it and got pregnant, I didn’t think about how I’d feed my baby after birth. However, I went to most of the NHS prenatal classes I was offered and breastfeeding was one of them. Perhaps I just took it for granted that it was what I’ll do, I’m not sure. I tell you though, after the NHS session, it was definitely what I was going to do; as a keen bargain hunter, the very obvious point (that I hadn’t thought about) that breastfeeding was FREE didn’t escape my attention. I wish I had focused more on understanding HOW to do it though.
Is there anything you wish you had known before starting your breastfeeding journey?
I wish I understood what counted as a feed – I thought it meant each time on each breast, as opposed to a feed session, fancy that. This didn’t do my supply any good on the 8 – 12 feeds you should aim for at the start with newborns.
I wish I knew that although breastfeeding was natural, it didn’t always come naturally; for lots of women, it’s a learned skill. I mean check out latching; it took me what seemed like forever to get it right! And of course, there was a painful ... very painful cost for most poor latches.
I wish I knew what cluster feeding was about and that it was normal. I wish I understood the supply and demand nature of breast milk supply, and what to do to maintain it. I wish I knew the impact of using breast milk substitute on milk supply, and how to minimize it. Yes, there are quite a few things I so wish I knew before I started.
What difficulties did you face in the early days of breastfeeding?
My first feed was amazing! Unfortunately, it went downhill from there, starting with the fear of dehydration. Our biggest problem at the start was painful feeds due to poor latch, and weight loss. I’ve also had my brush with lumpy breasts due to blocked milk ducts, and more recently with blebs. And oh, I’m massively lopsided.
Did you express throughout your breastfeeding journey? If so when did you begin to express and how often?
I had to pump to save my breastfeeding relationship. It took me forever to learn how to hand express and I spend hours every day pumping for almost 5 months, from around week 4 or 5 (I’m not sure). I didn’t even know about breast pumps until after our problems started. There was a time I used to spend about 5 hours pumping in a day, sometimes every 2 / 3 hours, sometimes I power pumped for 5 / 10 mins every 30mins or so.
The mornings were the best time, before baby work up, and when I felt the fullest. I also did midnight pumping for quite a while.
Which breast pump did you choose to use and/or which pump did you find most effective?
I’ve used both a hospital, and hospital grade double electric pumps, single electric pump, and manual pump. The double is definitely the best, it reduces pumping time. However, I know many find single pumps, both electric and manual adequate; it all depends on why you’re pumping really.
Did you have a plan of how long you wanted to breastfeed for from the beginning? Did you stick to this once your little one arrived?
I had no plans! I didn’t have a clue really. The more problems I’ve had, the more determined I found myself to make it work; I’m so thankful I got the right support to help me on our journey. We are ‘still’ going at almost 22 months and my plan now is for my little one to self wean – yeah, it’s full term breastfeeding for us.
What is the best piece of advice you received from a family member/friend/breastfeeding advisor?
Oh, I received so many good ones. Perhaps the best was to feed whenever baby wanted – fab for family calm and excellent for supply.
Did you attend a breastfeeding support group or visit an online support group?
I did; it took me a while to get going, but it turned out to be a crucial support on our journey. I so wish I knew about online support much earlier. The Medela online and offline Breastfeeding Cafes are fab, and I have recently found and joined a number of Facebook Breastfeeding Groups.
What is/was your favourite thing about breastfeeding?
The closeness and cuddles; it’s incredible to continue meeting your baby’s needs from inside of you. It’s like the continuation, in some measure, of that womb nourishment, warmth, and presence. It’s the little chest to big chest, little face nuzzled against your neck, and so much more.
Mo is a full time working, first-time mum who blogs about her life and thoughts on Adventures of a Novice Mum (@aNoviceMum). A huge thank you to Mo for sharing her Breastfeeding Story with us. If you would like to share your experience of breastfeeding on our blog please email our PR team on email@example.com for further details. Thank you.