In all honesty I didn’t think Hux and I would ever get this far and still be breastfeeding: 3 months and counting. I didn’t set myself any goals – I didn’t want the pressure – and I promised myself that if the pain of it outweighed the positive aspects that I wouldn’t feel guilty about switching to formula. Saying that, I am very proud of how far we’ve come. I’m a firm breastfeeding advocate but also a fan of doing what’s right for you; Elfie only breastfed for a couple of weeks and at the time that was what our situation required. There’s no point flogging a dead breastfeeding horse if it’s not right for you and your baby: happy mama, happy baby, right?
You read so many articles and receive a whole pile of information about breastfeeding when you first begin, NHS leaflets, blogs, baby websites, books… but so much of it I found completely irrelevant, felt didn’t suit me, or was slightly different to my experience. It’s not a one-size-fits-all deal.
It’s natural to feel a bit intimidated about feeding in public – I was terrified I’d flash my nipples to someone who really didn’t want to see them (or worse, someone who did) – but I got over it sooo quickly. You might think you’ll stick out like a sore thumb but pretty much the only prrople who’ll notice what you’re doing are other breastfeeding mothers or former breastfeeders, i.e. my own mum who likes to stare wistfully and gooey eyed at a breastfeeding mother til I elbow her to stop. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself with one of those big breastfeeding coverup things so at the times I do feel conspicuous I use a scarf (I have a couple of lovely Alice Temperley ones – nothin’s too good for my boy) to cover up. But on the whole nobody will notice, or even care. And I find that I’m so defiantly into my breastfeeding now that I would floor anyone who dared question me (the 1973 Sexual Discrimination Act innit! It’s illegal to challenge a breastfeeding mother, regardless of the age of the baby being fed).
Nursing bras worked for me at first but I’m pretty over them now. They’re ugly and I cant operate the stupid clippy bits with one hand: you need two, and two hands you don’t have when winding a baby. So I’m back to softly cupped bras which are comfier on my medium sized boobs than the larger nursing bras, plus as soon as your done the cups pop back into place. So much easier. The best bras I’ve found were £7 from Sainsburys and bought out of necessity when my nursing bra got rained on, but I love it!
(NB. don’t attempt to do those clippy bits of nursing bras back up if you’ve just painted your nails. You WILL smudge them).
When expressing I have found that a simple hand-held pump works much better for me than a big old electric one. I only pump here and there so Will can get involve in feeding Hux (read: so I could go to the pub) and I’ve found that expressing from one side while Hux fed from the other works so much better than expressing before or after feeding. Pumping and feeding a baby at the same time is a bit of a logistical nightmare but my milk yield is literally twice as much, I think because the added benefit of the letdown is there.
Breastfeeding HURT for me at the start, like, reeeeeally hurt. But it soon stopped and the memory fades away, much like childbirth I guess. And once you’re done with your Lansinoh it’s great for other purposes: lip balm, cracked heels, your husband’s joggers nipple… I will be eternally grateful to some wonderful Twitter friends, without whom I think I would’ve given up breastfeeding in those first tough weeks.
I see a lot of breastfeeding mothers sticking to a wardrobe of button-down shirts and I thought they would be the best thing to wear but I’ve found I prefer tshirts. Lifting the top up and maneuvering Hux’s head to my boob is a lot more discreet for me rather than labouriously undoing a shirt and I find it a lot easier to rearrange myself when he’s done. I don’t mind if anyone gets a glimpse of my mum tum but when I first started breastfeeding I wore a camisole that could be pulled down so my tummy was covered.
Finally, breastfeeding burns a load of calories (around 500 a day, according to most sources). It took me a year to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight after I’d had Elfie, and 4 weeks with Hux. This fact alone means I’ll be a breastfeeding fan for life.