Advice on breast feeding?: I'm looking into breast... - NCT

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Advice on breast feeding?

Kirssty profile image
Kirssty

I'm looking into breast feeding & wondered if anyone who had done it before had advice good or bad thanks x

10 Replies

The only advice I would give if you decide to breastfeed is to make sure that the baby is latched on properly. I made the mistake with my first born and let him suckle despite not being latched on the correct way, I ended up with raw nipples which in turn led to a painful infection, two nights in hospital and having to stop breastfeeding only 3 weeks in. Now I'm pregnant with my second I still want to give them breast milk, for them to get the benefit of it but I'm debating wether to just express and give from the bottle which would mean I'd know exactly how much milk the baby will be taking and daddy will be involved with the feeding too. But that's my experience with it, I know other mums that really enjoyed it and loved the special bond it gave them with their babies. Hope that helps.

I had lots of problems breastfeeding my first too. As with AlexSweetMommy, I'm hoping that experience will allow successful breastfeeding with my second.

My first at home, my baby had a longer sleep (needless to say, this meant I did too!) and I woke with double engorgement, which led to four days hospitalisation and mastitis. Obviously this is NOT the typical breastfeeding experience!! So don't be disheartened.

I would suggest that you read up on how to express by hand in order to prevent issues. In my case, I was given reading material on breastfeeding at the hospital after I'd had my baby - much too late! Ask your midwife for reading material on breastfeeding now (if you don't already have it), and ensure that you're familiar with it. That way, when you're exhausted with a newborn, it'll be a little easier to spot and troubleshoot issues before they are serious. Talk to your midwife about any other resources in your area such as breastfeeding classes, and I'd again suggest going along before your baby arrives.

You will always have choice about how you feed your baby, but information means you'll have a better chance at successful breastfeeding if you decide to go that way.

Bear in mind that it is critically important to ensure that your baby is breastfed for the first week or so. Your body produces colostrum in the first few days, which is full of exactly what your baby needs. If for some reason you can't breastfeed during that first week, hand expressing the colostrum to be fed to the baby is advisable.

The only real note of caution from my tale is that I desperately wanted to breastfeed, plus midwives are trained to really push successful breastfeeding. The end result in my case was me and baby exhausted (following advice of midwives to the letter!!), and a hungry baby who had not reached her birth weight by 3 weeks resulting in additional health checks at the neonatal clinic. If breastfeeding is not working, your baby will not be harmed by supplementing until you get it right, or by switching to supplements.

Information now will help you when your baby arrives, but at the end of the day the choice is yours. Yes, there are benefits to breastfeeding. But not at the cost of your or your baby's physical or emotional health.

R x

I am glad I breastfed my son. He is now 21 months old, and I actually breastfed him until he was 14months old, though by then it was only the bedtime feed. When he was brand new he was fed every 1 1/2 to 2hours, this is because their stomachs are so small that they can only take small amounts at a time for the first few days. Often if he was over fed he would just bring the surplus back up. It's a big committment but the benefits to mum and baby are huge.

The baby suckling actually releases hormones that help your womb contract back into place quicker and can help protect against certain female cancers as just the tip of the iceberg. For the baby, breastmilk suits baby's system better than modified cow's milk, so there's less risk of adverse reactions and tummy upsets. The antibodies that are passed onto the baby through the milk helps protect the baby from colds, chest infections, ear aches and many other childhood ailments.

Breastmilk changes according to your baby's needs too. It's fantastic stuff! And it's all made by mum. :)

Yes, breasts can get very painful when overfull and mastits can develope, the more your baby drinks, the more you will produce. At times if my son slept longer than usual I would have to express a little from each breast to relieve the pressure, if the breasts are too full the baby can also find it difficult to latch on too. It can be a balancing act as your breasts get used to the demand of the baby's feeds. I often didn't need to check the time to see if he was ready for a feed, his mood and my breasts were my clock.

On a practical note, there is no need to get up at night with a screaming baby waiting for the kettle to boil to make up a night feed, no need to sterilise bottles ( unless you're expressing of course), all that's needed is mum and a cuddle. It's not so easy though to breastfeed when you're out and about, but many places have a quiet place now where mums can feed their babies, and there are discreat ways to feed your baby without feeling too exposed.

The only negative thing I found was that in the early days, when it was short feeds but often, his dad would seem to cuddle him when he was settled and calm and I would get him when he was upset and needed feeding, to be honest, at times I felt like his mobile milk machine, though I had to be realistic about it. It was nobody's fault I felt like that, and it did quickly pass as he stayed more alert between feeds. Though secretly I was jealous of my partner for a while. That's just something you may want to be aware of if it happens to you. Try not to feel negative about it, and remember, at the start, breastfeeding is a new experience to both you and your baby, so be patient for the two of you as you learn the technique together.

Good Luck. x

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Hi Kirssty,

It's great that you are looking into feeding options before your baby is born - it will help you be prepared when he or she arrives, whichever decision you make.

We have loads of information on breastfeeding (and bottle-feeding) on our website in the Feeding section: nct.org.uk/parenting/feeding

NCT runs breastfeeding courses, which you can learn more about here: nct.org.uk/courses/antenata...

We train breastfeeding counsellors and breastfeeding peer supporters all over the UK to support mums to feed successfully whichever path they choose. If you do find that when your baby comes you need support in your local area, do contact your local NCT branch and they will help any way they can! nct.org.uk/branches.

I hope this heps!

Best wishes,

Alice x

Try not to feel guilty nor smug no matter what you decide!

I breastfed both my children - my boy until he was six months old and then got it into my head to quit NOW and regretted it a bit after. I fed my daughter until she was 1 and really enjoyed it. I think we were both sad to quit.

But I've lots of friends who tried and didn't manage or could never bring themselves to think about it (among other things, they figured they'd shared their body for long enough). That was six years ago and I think the health services were so keen on breastfeeding that they didn't help enough with those that opted for bottle-feeding and some felt really guilty that they hadn't done it.

If after your reading you decide to try it, just keep a level head. It can be hard at the beginning (latching on, the drain on your body and the responsibility that it all depends on you - although sometimes that's a nice thought) and again at about six weeks when they suddenly get a hungry surge. If you do manage through those two periods, enjoy it and stop when you are both ready. If you don't want to try it or it doesn't work for you, don't worry - your child will thrive either way and there will be lots of 'best' decisions to make throughout his/her life. Just being interested - and keeping that level head - means you're setting yourself up to be a wonderful mum.

Best wishes

K

Ok, so I wish everyone well who successfully breastfed their babies. I also wish for that for my second baby.

But it is unfair to mothers who have problems feeding to suggest that breastfeeding is some sort of magic bullet for screaming babies, warming feeds, or the need to sterilize bottles. For my baby's first three weeks, every feed involved breastfeeding, then supplementing with whatever had been expressed after the prior feed, then using the pump to express whatever else I could extract and to tell my body to boost supply, then I had to clean and sterilize not only the bottle but the pump accessories. After three weeks, I was advised that it was absolutely fine (and preferable!!) to give additional supplements so that my baby's health didn't suffer. So each feed from then until my milk dried up was breastfeeding, supplementing with whatever had been pumped, then giving the baby additional bought supplements, then expressing for the next feed, then cleaning and sterilizing all of the paraphernalia used.

When my milk dried up, I moved entirely to supplements, and found the stress free feeds and my baby's easily filled tummy FAR preferable from a sleep, contentment, and bonding perspective for both my baby and myself.

Throughout all of this, my baby (once she started getting enough food - ie with bought supplements) never once woke crying for a feed because I was so finely tuned to her that I woke at the early signs that she would be needing a feed, and had all of the paraphernalia that went along with feed times lined up and ready to go before she woke.

And my now 19 month old, despite being predominantly supplement fed, has never suffered an ear infection, has rarely been sick, and has barely even had a runny nose. My understanding (and I'm not a medical professional) is that all the antibodies your child needs are passed to the baby in the first week.

Choosing not to breastfeed or having problems with breastfeeding will not impair your bond with your child or impair your child's health.

What I resent the most is the first three weeks, when there was pressure not to supplement (even though I was conscientiously pumping to boost supply and my baby was exhibiting no sign of 'teat confusion' while switching from breast to bottle). During that first three weeks, my bond with my baby suffered, and perhaps more importantly, my sleep suffered. And after even a small good sleep, my milk supply was slightly higher. Perhaps supplementing in the early days, and the resulting additional sleep and lack of stress, was in fact the magic bullet needed in my case that may have allowed successful breastfeeding.

bobby70 profile image
bobby70 in reply to rmh2012

rmh2012,

Obviously my comment on here offended you which certainly was NOT my intention. I was only expressing my own experience and the facts that I was given that helped me decide to breastfeed. How you have taken parts of my post and got so defensive about it makes me now wish that I hadn't even bothered posting a comment, or even joining this forum!!! I was not being judgmental towards women who choose not to or who can not breastfeed, if it came over that way then I appologise. Kirssty asked if anyone had breastfed before and if they could share good and bad experiences, and that is all that I did. Shared my experience. I did not once critisize mothers who don't breastfeed. I felt lucky that I managed to breastfeed myself. That's all. !!!

rmh2012 profile image
rmh2012 in reply to bobby70

Sorry - this is an issue which I am sensitive about.

It's just that there is a lot of misinformation which leads people to think that ongoing breastfeeding is better for their child in ways which are not supported by medical facts. And it's exactly that type of information which kept me trying to breastfeed a child who was not getting enough food to the point of her health being at risk - and under very strict midwife supervision! Only to be told by doctors at the neonatal clinic that supplementing is just fine.

So, yes - I tend to overreact on this one issue. And I apologise if this has been off putting in any way for you - that was certainly not my intention. All contributions to this site are valued and welcome, and this site has far better quality and more supportive responses than some other sites.

I would just hate a new mum to be making decisions based on information which has gone unchallenged. I'm sure that you were given the same information that I was, and I'm sure I'd be passing on the same advice if I'd not had cause to look into it further.

I have breast fed all 5of my children and am lucky to say it has come very naturaly to me. My Best advice is to be relaxed and know that it will be uncomfortable for a little while, but if you can get past that stage, I promise it will not hurt a bit. Good luck x

Here are a few things that helped me 7 years ago when my Daughter was little, I fed her for over 6 months before my shift work got in the way.

1) Make sure to get yourself a drink and a snack before you sit down to feed. You're not going to be moving for a little while, so make the most of the time to look after yourself :) Breast feeding burns a lot of calories, so it's important to keep you healthy too. Get a partner etc to make some food up ready to grab if you'll be on your own for a while.Be aware some foods/medicines/alcohol etc can affect your milk and/or your baby's digestive system, so do a bit of research on those.

2)Remember to start the next feed on the last side used as it may not of been emptied. An easy way to do this is to use a small pin/badge and pin it to your top on the side you use last, then start on that side next time.

3)Make the most of family and friends when they come round: get them to make you a cuppa, do the dishes etc. Don't fret over the housework for a while until you and baby find your routine :)

4)Make sure you have a good fitting and comfortable bra! Once your milk comes in proper your chest can feel quite hot and heavy until it settles down. I woke up one morning about 5 days after my girl was born to find my boobs had been replaced with two small, hard and hot rugby balls! Whilst waiting for my girl to wake up I decided to lean on the bedroom windowsill in my nightie and watch the traffic, and suddenly found my feet getting wet :)

5) Get some breast pads. Nothing worse than being out in public with two wet patches on your shirt lol.

6)Be aware that the first week or two your nipples can get uncomfortable whilst they get used to being constantly used and moist. There are creams and things available to help soothe, just remember to wipe them off properly before the next feed. Cold flannels and things can help to calm them just after a feed too. Breast feeding should never be painful, but can be uncomfortable as baby makes the first few sucks, and your boobs might tingle a bit as the "let down" of milk flows through. Never be embarrassed to ask your midwife or health visitor to check how baby is latching, as they make be able to make a minor adjustment to positions to make things more comfortable for you both. I did this in the hospital, and it was worth those couple of seconds, of someone's hand on my boob showing me how to get the initial latch, to be sure I was doing okay.

Anyway, just a few things from my point of view. It may or may not be of any help to anyone, but thought I'd share it along. Good luck with whatever you decide, and best wishes

x

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