Friday, 12 January 2018

5 Things you might not know before you breastfeed

There comes a point during pregnancy that
all women decide how they're going to keep their offspring alive after they've exited the womb. Some choose to breastfeed exclusively, some express and some formula feed. There's huge debate over which is the best way to feed your new baby but truth be told, as long as your baby gets fed, that's all the truly matters. Everyone has their own reasons for choosing their feeding method and no mother should ever be belittled or bullied for her choices. Just do what is best for you and your baby and remember that you're doing a great job. I personally chose to breastfeed for the health benefits to my children and also for the bonding experience. I breastfed my daughter for the first year of her life and plan to do the same with my son. I thought I was prepared for breastfeeding but turns out there were some things I didn't know and weren't prepared for. So if you choose to breastfeed your baby, here are 5 things you might not know about breastfeeding.

1. Your baby probably won't latch straight away.

Might be obvious to some but a lot of mothers begin to panic when their baby doesn't latch on and start feeding straight away. They worry that their baby will starve and immediately jump to the conclusion they've failed and are already a terrible mother. Relax. It's perfectly normal for a baby not to latch first try. It can take several attempts for them to get a proper latch and even when they do, they may not stay on for very long. They will get it with practice though. Also don't worry about them not feeding much straight away. Straight after birth a babies stomach is only the size of a marble so it will fill very quickly. If baby isn't latching a midwife will be on hand to help you express some colostrum and will syringe feed it to your baby. This process may leave you feeling like a milked cow but it will help ease some concerns that your baby hasn't had anything to eat. 

2. Your breast milk won't come in for a couple of days.

You might expect your breasts to balloon up as soon as baby is born but don't be surprised when they don't. For the first couple of days after baby is born, your body produces colostrum. Colostrum is a form of milk produced during pregnancy. It is very rich in antibodies that help to protect your newborn against disease. Even if you choose to formula feed, a midwife may still suggest expressing colostrum on the first day to give your baby those important anti-bodies. After about day 2 you'll notice your breasts getting heavier and fuller, this is your breast milk coming in. If you have been expressing you'll also notice a change in colour of your breast milk as well. 

3. The first few feeds will drain all your energy.

This is something I really wish someone
had warned me about when I first started breastfeeding my daughter. The sensation is almost indescribable. It's like your baby is literally sucking the life energy out of your body. I felt weaker and more exhausted by the minute. It was a fight to stay conscious. A fight I actually lost the first time it happened. Thankfully I had Vala's dad by my side to ensure I didn't drop her in my weakened state. If you find yourself alone and your energy fading fast, buzz a midwife and explain the situation. She should stay close by and monitor you and baby to make sure nothing bad happens. Don't worry though, The sudden fatigue when feeding only last for the first couple of feeds so usually by day 2 you're not effected by it anymore.

4. It will hurt! For a little while.

See this one throws people off because you get told it's going to hurt but the pain doesn't come in straight away. It lulls you into a false sense of security. You might be lucky enough to go a good couple of days with no pain at all but then suddenly it comes outta nowhere. It'll start as a dull pressure at first and gradually get more and more painful to the point you may cry out, clench your entire body and scrunch your face up. It is a lot more painful than you may expect. Good news is it doesn't last. It will last a week, tops. And just as it gradually gets worse, over the week it'll gradually get better. Eventually you'll return to how it felt the first time you fed your baby; pretty much painless. Your baby will be able to latch on with you barely even noticing. 

5. It will get messy. Very messy!

Another fact that lulls you into a false sense of security at first. The reason for this is because as stated above, your breast milk doesn't come in for the first couple of days. Your colostrum won't cause your breasts to fill up to bursting point. Once your breast milk comes in, expect to find it everywhere! At first your body will produce enough milk to feed twins so unless you're actually having twins (or more), you'll find you have a lot more than your baby needs. Not to worry, once your baby establishes a proper feeding routine, your body will only produce the amount needed for your tiny human. This may take some time though. A month, maybe even two. So stock up on those breast pads! Though don't be surprised how often you have to change them. In the beginning you could be changing them every 30 minutes. I wear 3 in each bra cup and I still wake up drenched in my own breast milk. And it's not just wetness you wake up to, it's stickiness too. They say breast milk tastes just like cantaloupe juice, well it feels like it too. Think back to the last time you ate any melon with your fingers, that stickiness is what you will wake up feeling, so get used it. 

Just remember, there is no right or wrong way to feed your baby. Yes there are benefits to breastfeeding but breastfeeding isn't for everyone. Don't give a woman a hard time if you see her bottle feeding instead because you don't know her situation. Some women can't produce milk. Some babies can't latch on. The women you see bottle feeding may have tried breast feeding and been unsuccessful. A fact that could be quite upsetting to her. So keep your opinions and thoughts to yourself. None of the "breast is best" nonsense. Unless you know her and her situation, it's better to just keep your thoughts to yourself. Just remember she is doing what is best for her baby just as you are doing for yours. Just keep doing what you're doing mum, because you're doing great!

Until next time,
Alli xo.

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