On Breastfeeding.

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.


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  1. Katie wrote:

    Lovely post Alice. I am a big breastfeeding advocate, but I also was exactly like you and would rather have been happy, so I would have switched to formula if I needed too. I struggled for the first few months, and got mastitis a lot, including one episode in which I was hospitalised, but still I carried on. I still don’t understand how the NHS say if you are doing it right, it shouldn’t hurt. Jesus christ, it felt like there was a piranha chomping at my nipple to start with.
    But in the end I loved it and carried on for 11 months. I definitely want to try and breast feed the next one, however if it doesn’t work I won’t beat myself up over it. I am hoping for my sakes it does though because this mama likes to eat a lot of cake.

    Posted 8.23.12 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Wow, good for you, I don’t know what I’d do if I had mastitis. It sounds like absolute HELL! The cake is such a good benefit of breastfeeding x

      Posted 8.28.12 Reply
  2. Abby wrote:

    I am more scared about breastfeeding than labour by a long way so it’s good to read a happy but realistic story about the challenges and benefits. Is there anything you would recommend in terms of reading/doing before the baby is actually here?

    Posted 8.23.12 Reply
    • Myra wrote:

      Sorry to butt in here :) i highly recommend checking out the kellymom website (kellymom.com) which is a fantastic source of information. For actual help once breastfeeding the la leche league I found to be really helpful.

      Posted 8.24.12 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Like Myra said below – Kellymom is excellent! I didn’t really read much about it before I started but when I was stuck the advice I got from some breastfeeding was invaluable. At the hospital where I gave birth there was a breastfeeding councillor and I took all the help I was offered from her, she was brilliant.

      Posted 8.28.12 Reply
  3. Lovely post. I breastfeed Iyla for 18 months which was so much longer than I ever expected to but I just loved it. I could feel my uterus shrinking from day one and the way in which you can eat cake all day and still lose weight definitely makes it the best thing ever! I am hoping to breastfeed this time too but I know that things might not go as smoothly and I might not be able to, I definitely won’t be as nervous about doing it in public 2nd time round though. Once that argument is ready, you almost want someone to say something! X

    Posted 8.23.12 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Ooh that uterus shrinking – ouch! I went back to hospital because I was so worried about how much it was hurting.

      Posted 8.28.12 Reply
  4. Stephanie wrote:

    That picture of Huxley at your boobie with a smile on his face just melts me! Lily used to look just the same! Such a special time! Enjoy! Xx

    Posted 8.23.12 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      That gummy milky grin really is the best! x

      Posted 8.28.12 Reply
  5. Myra wrote:

    I was surprised by how much I loved breastfeeding the first time round and how much of an advocate I have become. I am curious to see how my breastfeeding relationship with thing 2 (due on Monday eek) will develop. I breastfed my son until 14 months when I got pregnant with his sibling.

    Anyway if you continue through winter I highly highly recommend the boob jumper for breastfeeding as cold breasts equals total agony.

    Granted it’s not cheap but I wore it until it died and have already purchased a new one to use this time round.

    I’ve heard the second time start up can be a lot more painful so I am curious to see how it all pans out.

    Hux = gorgeous! I loved breastfeeding my son, the older he got he became so responsive to it and would almost cheer when it was time for a feed. Too cute.

    Posted 8.23.12 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Thanks Myra – I’m crossing my fingers you’ll be back here soon with some new baby news! x

      Posted 8.28.12 Reply
  6. HonestMum wrote:

    Just beautiful pictures and I totally agree-I’m an advocate of breastfeeding (and even directed a short film for Breastfeeding charity Best Beginnings) but every woman must do what is right for them and not feel pressured. If you want to check the film out you can here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpnlaT7jrOo

    Posted 8.24.12 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Great film! I was so shocked by that breastfeeding rate at 6 months. I really hope to keep going that long.

      Posted 8.30.12 Reply
  7. Ally wrote:

    I think the biggest myth about breast feeding is that it’s painless….it hurts!!! And then doesn’t when you both learn how to do it and then it’s brilliant!!!

    Posted 8.24.12 Reply
  8. Great post – yes it hurts, yes you need support and for it to all come together but when it does it is the easiest thing in the world (and yup that is never in the first few weeks) – loved the extra calories, only having to roll over in the night to feed and their milky contented smiles :)

    Posted 8.27.12 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Ahh the lying-down night feed. It changed my life!

      Posted 9.2.12 Reply
  9. dieta wrote:

    I’m going to cry, I wrote a long reply and it got eaten!I’ve never added up before what I’ve spent on breastfeeding, it goes a bit like this:Breast Shells – £30 (two sets, useful in NNU)Nursing pads – £10 (one box for each pregnancy plus Bounty samples)Manual Pump – £5 (Tommee Tippee special at Asda, had a steriliser and bottles included)Lansinoh – £10 (only needed one tube)Bras – £100Milk Bags – £8Total – £163£/ baby – £81.50I’m pregnant with #3 going to have to buy more nursing bras because after 5 years these are on their last legs. So an extra £100 makes it £87 per baby. Averaged over 5 years that’s only £17.50 a year breastfeeding has cost me. Yes I have some nursing tops I’ve not counted because they cost the same as normal tops, I also use maternity shirts and maternity night wear usually opens up at the top too.You could also factor in HSV which if I was formula feeding would have to be spent on formula and as I’m breastfeeding they count against my food bill.£83.70 (pregnancy 1)£317.20 (First year of #1’s life)£483.60 (Age 1-4)£86.10 (pregnancy 2)£317.20 (First year #2’s life)£483.60 (Age 1-4)??? (Don’t know how long this pregnancy will last)£317.20 (First year of #3’s life)£483.60 (Age 1-4)Total £2,572.20I think it’s fair to say I’m in credit from breastfeeding!

    Posted 9.17.12 Reply