Breastfeeding. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. Or is that just what we are lead to believe as a first time mums?
It can be really hard listening to conflicting advice from midwives, health visitors, and even friends and family. You hear stories from people you know who cried in agony attempting to breastfeed their little ones, while others tell you of their blissful breastfeeding journey. Midwives will tell you how important it is right after giving birth while health visitors will en- courage you to breastfeed your baby on each visit.
It can be really overwhelming trying to digest all of the information, especially in the early days. As a first time mum, I said throughout my pregnancy that I didn’t want to breastfeed, but the moment my little boy was born, he latched on straight away and I guess I just went with the flow. After four months of exclusively breastfeeding, we decided to combi-feed and introduce formula at points during the day until he naturally weaned himself off. This hap- pened at six months, since which he has been completely formula fed. After many good days, but just as many bad days of breastfeeding, I realised from my own feeding journey to manage my expectations by not putting too much pressure on myself.
Of course every mother is different, but here are five things that I have learned from our feeding journey.
Five things I’ve learned about breastfeeding:
1. It won’t always be easy
Breastfeeding your baby won’t always be smooth sailing and some feeds will be tougher than others. My baby would have days where he was constantly fussy and feeding him would be a struggle. Other days there would be no fuss and he’d feed really well. Accept- ing that there will be times when breastfeeding isn’t going the way you want, instead of getting stressed about it and giving up altogether, will allow you to figure out what the problem is. Finding out what could be making feeding your baby tricky will enable you to get back on track and start enjoying feeding time again.
2. There’s no right way to do it
Seeking advice from the professionals is not always the answer. I received so much con- flicting advice about how to feed my baby and very soon after giving birth, I decided to just do it my way. A lot of it is about common sense and what works for you and your baby.
3. I’ll really, really miss it
It really is true what they say about the bond it creates between you and your baby and for someone that wasn’t even planning on breastfeeding, I will really miss the amazing mo- ments spent feeding my baby.
4. You stop when you want to stop
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself about how long you are you going to breast- feed your baby for and when you are going to stop. Have no expectations and just go with it. Once I’d got into the swing of breastfeeding, I said that I wanted to do it exclusively for at least six months. But once my baby was four months, I started introducing formula.
5. Having your smartphone at 3.00am is a must
It can be a pretty lonely place breastfeeding you baby in the early hours of the morning, so I’ll be forever grateful for the company of my phone. You’ll be surprised what baby related questions you’ll be asking Google and you might even have time for that social media scroll you didn’t get to do much of the day before! No matter how long you have been breastfeeding for, there are always new ways of keeping your baby content to be discovered.