Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow...
Lots of mums find breastfeeding as easy as pie, but if you are having trouble getting to grips with it (like we did), here's some things we wish someone had told us...
1. Happy days - Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience for many mums and their babies. Like anything new, it can take time to master and, at the very beginning, your baby is learning how to breastfeed just as you are. It can be frustrating at times if your little one struggles to latch on (especially after 40 minutes of trying at 4am) but be patient and encourage your baby gently into the correct position. The NHS guide to correct latching techniques is helpful. If you continue to have problems, speak to someone like a midwife or your local breastfeeding clinic.
2. Pump, pump, pump - some women struggle with their milk coming in after the first few days. One of our NCT group had to express from day 2 in order to help her milk flow. It isn't always a pleasant procedure, but it can help if you feel your baby isn't getting much milk. We are also not huge fans of getting our boobs out in public, so found expressing a supply to keep in the fridge or freezer very handy when feeling a bit shy and opting for a bottle feed instead.
3. Overnight boob job...? - When your milk does come in (normally around day 3-5) you may wake up feeling like Pamela Anderson. (R was so dazed and confused during this time, she was certain someone had come in during the night and given her a boob job) Your breasts can feel very engorged and uncomfortable and hard as rocks! A warm shower or cabbage leaves rested on your boobs can make you more comfortable.
4. Leaky Lucy - We were both amazed by how much our boobs leaked and were often changing tops a few times a day if we forgot to wear nipple pads. It's not a good look...
5. Boob of the month - your baby may have a favourite boob (they are funny little creatures). So you may feel a bit uneven... You can always pump the boob that is feeling left out to keep an even milk supply in both (and a more balanced appearance).
6. Ouch! - It can be painful. Cracked nipples, engorged breasts, mastitis, blocked ducts, incorrect latch, thrush - they can all be dealt with easily so speak to your doctor if you are in pain. (If you have sore nipples, put a little olive oil on a breast pad to soothe them).
7. It gets easier - don't despair if you are having problems. Once your baby gets the hang of breastfeeding, they will become pros and take much less time, latch on no problem and everything will be a lot comfier for you.
8. No pressure - If breastfeeding isn't for you, don't worry. Speak to your local GP or breastfeeding clinic for advice. There are no rules saying you must breastfeed and you're not a bad mother if, for whatever reason, at whatever stage, you decide to stop. If you do decide to move on to bottle feeding, make sure you express over a couple of weeks to relieve your breasts of any pain or blocked ducts. You can gradually decrease the amount you pump and your milk supply will gradually subside.