Meet Louise one of our Cake mums who has gave birth to Arthur, a beautiful baby boy who is now 9 months old.
Louise is currently on maternity leave and has been kind enough to share her personal experiences with us. Each week Louise will talk about the highs and lows of motherhood and how she has come to terms with being a new mum.
Today Louise talks about breastfeeding and what she wishes she knew before she started.
I thought I was prepared for breastfeeding. Prior to the birth of my first child I read countless breastfeeding books and blogs, poured over the websites of breastfeeding groups and authorities as well as watching YouTube videos of how to latch a baby and different breastfeeding positions.
I had purchased ALL the breastfeeding things...nipple creams and butters, breast pads, nipple shields, booby ice packs and gel pads, numerous nursing bras and clothing, a breast pump and nursing pillows (yes plural).
Fast forward to postpartum and I realised I had only prepare for the physical aspects of breastfeeding, nothing could have prepared me for the emotional rollercoaster breastfeeding entails.
The immense pressure of being solely responsible for nourishing and sustaining the life of this tiny baby was mind blowing. More so than during pregnancy, the importance of drinking enough water, as well as eating enough nourishing food was constantly at the forefront of my mind.
The record keeping
Recording of the start and end of all feedings, wet nappies, dirty nappies, naps...detailing every movement your baby makes was relentless but so necessary so in your sleep deprived state, you can answer all the questions your healthcare provider has pertaining to your tiny human.
Advice is contradictory at times
In the first day or two postpartum I saw many midwives who would each show me a different position or technique. At the time I was so frustrated and wished they were all on the same page about the 'optimum way to breastfeed', I know now that breastfeeding is so unique to the baby and mother and you need to find what works best for the two of you.
Lastly the guilt
I felt so guilty over the fact I didn't love breastfeeding right away, that I would be relieved at the end of each feeding and I couldn't envisage a day where breastfeeding would be effortless. Sure enough it did get easier, just as every one said it would, latching became an afterthought, feedings became quicker and pain free, we found our groove.
As we can see from Louise’s experience & hear from countless other women, breastfeeding is not always easy. It does not matter how prepared you are; you cannot account for unforeseen factors.
What we should take away from this is that there is plenty of help available to women. Whilst breastfeeding can be difficult to start, surrounding yourself with key people (lactation consultants) and the ones you love, who can make all the difference. Keep the channels of communication open and talk about your experiences. Bottling your fears and emotions up inside is unhealthy and can lead to other conditions.
It is important that you are relaxed and in the right frame of mind before sitting down to breastfeed. Your anxiety and or stress can be felt by your young baby and may interrupt his willingness to breastfeed. A calm and composed mother is likely to have much more success and a more settled baby.
We are blessed as new mothers to have information at our finger tips. Goggle search, breastfeeding specialist sights, Lactation consultants and copious amounts of literature has been written on the subject of breastfeeding. Formularise yourself with the art of latching, breastfeeding positions and accessories needed. Reading blog posts on other women’s experiences can also be helpful, reading many will help you to understand that everyones experiences are different.
Learn more: Breastfeeding Guide & Tips
Equip yourself with the necessary equipment. Breastfeeding pillow, nursing bras, breast pump, nursing pads, nipple cream, and heat/cooling packs. This way you will be prepared for anything that is thrown your way.
It is important to remember that breastfeeding is not always easy. It can take some women many months to get the hang of it.
It is important to eat a well balanced diet full of fresh whole foods. A combination of fruit and vegetables, meats, oils and carbohydrates are all essential to help maintain your energy levels and to assist in producing breast milk full of valuable nutrients that will help him or her grow.
Learn more: Postpartum Diet
It is essential to drink plenty of water when you are breastfeeding. Keep a bottle or glass of water handy when you are feeding and be sure to have a glass before you begin to breastfeed.
Avoid too many sugary drinks and they are likely to leave you feeling lethargic and dehydrated.
If you are experiencing difficulty with the latch, feel continued pain, feelings of being overwhelmed and or a fussy baby ask for help immediately. Avoid continuing and these types of problems, as they can be resolved fast with some expert help.
Just as we are all unique so is our breastfeeding journey. Stay true to your own self and continue as long as it works for both you and your baby. Don’t listen to other peoples judgements.
With time it does get easier. Not only will the latch and your ability to hold baby comfortably improve, but he will become more efficient at feeding (taking less time).
Never underestimate the importance of a good nursing bra. The comfort, support and fit that a good nursing bra will provide is essential for your own health and well-being. A good nursing bra will also assist in easy discrete feeding.
Invest in a few key pieces of outwear that makes nursing easier. Nursing tops that contain buttons and or peek a boo openings will allow for easy access.
Looking after yourself is essential particularly in the early stages of breastfeeding. Most new mums are sleep deprived due to the irregular sleeping and feeding patterns of a new born. Try to sleep when baby is sleeping to help ensure you get enough sleep throughout the course of a long day and night.
For more breastfeeding advice contact your local Lactation consultant or check out these helpful resources:
Tresillian - a non-for-profit organisation that help parents gain confidence in their new roles as mums and dads and teach new parents about routines in breastfeeding, sleep, settling and nutrition.
Australian Breastfeeding Association - supports and encourages women who want to breastfeed or provide breastmilk for their babies, and advocates to raise community awareness of the importance of breastfeeding and human milk to child and maternal health.
International Lactation Consultant Association - provides you with the essential tools, resources, and information to best support the families you support.
Lactation Consultants of Great Britain - advise and consult on practice and protocols related to infant feeding in the UK and work in a variety of situations using their specialist skills and knowledge.
Don’t miss: Pumping Breast Milk: Everything You Need To Know
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