Breast Feeding: Getting through the first 2 weeks

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Today we’re talking all things boobs, that’s right boobs, those things that have either got a baby attached or a pump if your pumping, and they are either tingling because your baby needs a feed or their leaking because your baby slept too long. Either way today’s blog is all about surviving those first 2 weeks of establishing breastfeeding.

I’m writing this blog, not only from the knowledge of my most recent experience but also from my previous two breastfeeding experiences, taking into consideration the “mistakes” I think I made last time, and things that could have helped me even more. This breastfeeding experience has definitely been my easiest, maybe because I felt I was armed with a brain full of information, or maybe it’s just third time round, learning from previous mistakes.

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One of the first things I’d say is most important with breastfeeding is too remember their is no routine, their are no “set” times to feed. Some babies may be great and feed every couple of hours, some babies cluster feed and need feeding maybe every 20 minutes. So don’t panic when you baby isn’t going long between feeds, eventually a routine will come.

The second most important thing new mom’s need to know, is your not the only one learning here, your baby is too. Midwives give this impression that baby should latch beautifully within seconds and off you go, when really that’s not the case at all. You can have a perfect latch, or you can stress yourself trying to get the most amazing latch ever but your newborn is learning too. They need to learn what’s comfortable for them, and so do you. Sore nipples aren’t just caused by an incorrect latch, your nipples need to time to adapt to being sucked on for up to an hour for every feed, they need to “toughen up” so to speak. So to a degree sore nipples are to be expected to a degree.

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With my first baby, I actually made my nipples worse by constantly trying to switch breast while I was feeding as I was told by a health professional to feed Tyler on both breasts to make sure he wasn’t taking more from one boob, explained to me as 20 minutes on one breasts then another 20 on the other etc. However you don’t need to do this at all! As long as you remember which breast you last fed on so you can use the other one for your next feed! Simple.

Engorgement: I’ve always become pretty engorged by day 3, with each of my babies. So be prepared for boobs that look like you just had implants put in. They will be pretty tender and leaky. I’ve never known how to deal with being engorged before. With how leaky your breast can become I’ve always kept a bra (nursing) on. However the best advice I got was from my sister in law, to strip down from the waist up, skin to skin with baby so he can have access to the breast when he wants. Not wearing anything stops you breasts being restricted, and lets any leaking just happen naturally – just remember to pop a towel under your bust to catch any leakage! I also expressed just enough to get some relief however don’t over express as you body will continue to produce the same amount of milk, and then it becomes a continuing cycle.

Both with my second attempt to breastfeed and this time I ended up with a blocked duct in my right breast, which can be pretty painful. With William (second baby) I couldn’t feed on that breast at all it was too painful, so I pumped. I also got very little support from the midwife I had seen. I was also suffering a really bad cracked nipple too so that also didn’t help. This time around I actually got a small lump in my breast, (the same breast as last time) this was within the first week. I got myself an appointment with the midwife, and she was fantastic. She examined the lump, checked my breasts for any other signs of infection. Then she offered me an electric breast pump to use to get the duct to unclog. Again only using the pump after Tristan had fed, for a little extra relief. However ended up I didn’t use the pump at all as massaging my breast with the palm of my hand worked really well to relieve the blocked duct. I was so pleased we got through it as with William it just seemed to get worse and worse and I couldn’t put him on the breast at all. Which ultimately lead to expressing, combi feeding and then all formula. Due to my supply decreasing and him latching less and less to the breast.

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A mistake I think I made along the way, especially with William, as he was originally Breastfeed to begin with then as explained above we introduced bottles. With Tyler he started on bottles as I hadn’t planned to breastfeed.  Is combi feeding or introducing a dummy. It doesn’t matter how “alike” a bottle claims to be to a human nipple, nothing can really compare to that. As you can imagine a baby has to work a lot harder with a bottle and the shape is completely different. This with William I think is were our path went wrong (other than the blocked duct and pain) Perhaps for some people combi feeding works but for us it just didn’t. Tristan has been exclusively breastfed, and he’s thriving. I’ve never been so proud of myself.

With things like this though, I think it’s so important to remember you did what you thought was right at the time. I have absolutely no regrets for how I fed my eldest two, they are thriving, both of them are healthy and happy, just like Tristan. I’m 100% behind believing that a fed baby is a happy baby, whether that be from a boob, expressing or giving formula from a tin. It doesn’t matter as long as you are happy. Their’s no point stressing yourself over what could have been, or the what if’s. If your stressed your baby will pick up on that. So just let all those feelings go, look at your baby and smile.

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That is THE most important thing to remember when your surviving those first two weeks, keeping yourself happy and stress free. Don’t worry about the little things. If you need to sit around the house half naked, ignore that front door and just sit with your baby.

I really hope this helps someone struggling to get through those hard 2 weeks, I promise now, from the experience of sore cracked nipples, to blocked ducts and over engorged boobs, it DOES get better. You just have to push through and remember why your doing it. It does get easier.

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Lady Sara xo

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