Breastfeeding Tips: Mum, Petra's Breastfeeding Story
Mum of two and parenting blogger, Petra, has kindly shared her experience of breastfeeding and expressing breastmilk, along with some handy top tips. Petra’s story explores establishing the right latch, sore and cracked nipples, expressing, feeding baby expressed breastmilk and weaning little ones off the breast. Breastfeeding isn’t always as straight forward as it may seem, but by sharing others’ personal experiences, we can pick up advice along the way. Mum to mum support really is key!
“Mums if you want to breastfeed, do so and remember that there is support available if you need help or advice."
Mum, Petra and author of the popular parenting blog, A Mum Reviews, shares her experience of breastfeeding her two daughters.
“I always knew I would breastfeed my babies. I’m Swedish and in Sweden most women breastfeed and it’s never looked at as an issue or as something that’s very difficult to do and that attitude is something that I believe makes a huge difference in the success of breastfeeding.
Of course, I knew that there could be problems with latch and pains but I had decided I was going to breastfeed and that I would do so even if it was painful - and it was for a while!
I started breastfeeding straight away after birth and it worked well both times. After watching those breastfeeding videos that they show you when pregnant, I thought it would be more difficult as the videos make a huge fuss about the perfect latch. Both my daughters breastfed for a year each and their latch did not look like it did in the videos so there are different ways that can work! I would tell other mums to not worry so much and to do what works for them and their babies.
I did encounter some problems with both my daughters. With my firstborn, I kept getting sharp pains when she latched on and had sore cracked and bleeding nipples. A breastfeeding support lady phoned me up out of the blue a few days after the birth to see how I was getting on and I told her about the situation and she came to visit me the next day to trouble-shoot. The problem was the angle I was holding my baby compared to the angle of my nipples. She advised me to adjust a very tiny bit and gave me some lanolin nipple cream samples. A day or two later, my nipples had healed! I couldn’t believe such a small adjustment could make such a difference.
With Baby No. 2, I knew all about the right angles so cracked nipples were never a problem and I didn’t need to use nipple creams. The afterpains were horrible though! For a month or so, every time I fed her, I felt like I was in labour again and it was not fun at all. But they gradually got less painful and finally went away.
I expressed from around 2 weeks with both babies as I wanted to ensure that they’d be able to take a bottle of expressed breastmilk if needed and that technique worked very well. I used a few manual pumps with my firstborn and then moved onto the Swing Single Electric breast pump and I used this again with Baby No.2. The electric breast pump works much faster and doesn’t cause hand cramps! I pumped more with Baby No. 2 and got into quite a good expressing routine and even managed to build up a small freezer supply. My best pumping tip is to just feed from one breast during the night and then pump from the full breast in the morning – that gave me a full bottle in five minutes!
Because I expressed more with my second baby, I did experience engorgement a couple of times and had to deal with blocked milk ducts too. This was quite painful but I learnt how to clear them with pumping and massage.
Teeth and breastfeeding is a combination I don’t like and both my daughters have bitten me when feeding. My youngest managed to cut my nipple and it got infected and very painful. During the healing, I stopped feeding from that breast and just pumped instead. Once healed, we continued as usual.
My goal was to feed my babies for a year and I started gradually cutting down on breastfeeds a couple of months before to not make the change too sudden. Both girls would happily accept a bottle as we’d introduced them early on and the struggle was just to find a formula that they liked.
My eldest finished breastfeeding at 12 months and my youngest was 11.5 months. I really thought my youngest would struggle to end the night feeds as we’d co-slept from the start but she weaned herself off them which was great. With my eldest, I weaned her off night feeds by offering water if she woke in the night.
I would say to other mums that if you want to breastfeed, do so and remember that there is breastfeeding support available if you need help or advice.”