What They Don't Tell You About Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding will always be something that I'm passionate to write about. I think there's a real lack of education when it comes to breastfeeding, and I think it's so important for bloggers, vloggers, etc, to use the platform that they have, because you never know, it might just help someone else. So, here I am. 

In terms of the lack of education, I think there's a big lack of support for breastfeeding mums which, in order to improve the UK's shocking breastfeeding rates, something needs to change. 

So, I thought I'd write all about some of the things that I certainly wasn't told about before I had Edith, or even after.

It might hurt to begin with

For a first time mum, perhaps I was ignorant to just think you simply put baby to the breast and the rest happens naturally. No, it doesn't. Even babies who latch perfectly to begin with, might cause you a bit of discomfort. Your breasts are not used to having a baby feeding from them, especially as a first time parent. 

It will take time for your body to get used to feeding your new baby, and it is a definite learning process for you and them. However, although some discomfort is totally normal, constant pain is not. If you've followed the start of my breastfeeding journey, you'll know about the sore, cracked and bleeding nipples (TMI, but it's my reality!). It was horrendous, and on reflection, we hadn't quite established a great latch. Edith's latch back then was quite shallow, so it took a lot of reading, and tutorial watching exercises from me to be able to perfect it.

I would suggest, if you're struggling for a latch, then reach out. Mention any discomfort to your Health Visitor, Midwife, find a Lactation Consultant or find out if there is a local breastfeeding group where you can seek help.  

Cluster feeds are completely normal 

I'll be honest and say that I'd never heard of a cluster feed before, so when Edith was doing it as a newborn, I was questioning my ability to breastfeed. Was she getting enough? Can I produce enough milk? Should my baby be feeding so much? Why is she feeding so much? The list was endless

However, cluster feeds are completely normal. Cluster feeding, is an important part of your baby's development. Breastfed babies feed for all sorts of reasons, but especially in those early days, the cluster feeds are essential in building up a mums milk supply. So feeding on demand is crucial.

It may feel like you spend every second, of every hour, of every day breastfeeding but cluster feeding is not an indication that your baby isn't getting enough. It's not an indication that there is something wrong. The only main indications that your baby is getting enough, is by having good nappy outputs (both wet and dirty) and that your baby is gaining weight. 

As I said, babies feed for all sorts of reasons; for signalling extra milk to be produced, for comfort, for routine, because they want to. The list is endless, but cluster feeding is normal!

Feeding on demand is essential

As well as cluster feeding, it is so important to breastfeed on demand. As I said, there would be times where it felt like all I was doing was feeding. In no uncertain terms, I felt like a cow

Of course, I know that it can take up a lot of time, especially when there are lots of other jobs to get done, however feeding on demand is so important to establish a milk supply. Milk supply works on a supply and demand basis, so when feeding on demand, it will allow your breasts to produce the milk that your baby is signalling that they need when they feed.

Just because your baby has teeth, doesn't mean the end of breastfeeding

I couldn't believe the amount of comments that I'd been given with regard to teeth and breastfeeding. I heard countless times that when I'd mentioned that Edith had started cutting teeth that 'oh that's her off the boob then!'. Babies/toddlers cannot bite and latch at the same time

Edith went through a phase where she would occasionally bite me, not to be malicious, but because she was teething. In the event that she would bite, I would sit her up and move her and tell her that biting wasn't kind, and then we would try again. There would be times where she would bite again, which I would then remove her completely. However, it never became a habit, so just because your child has teeth, doesn't mean your breastfeeding journey has to end. 

In my experience, I had to watch Edith's cues when she was near the end of a feed to stop her before she could bite.

It's not everyone's cup of tea

I know that everyone has an opinion, and I know that breastfeeding isn't for everyone, and that's ok. However, just because it's not for everyone, doesn't mean that support should go out of the window just because someone else doesn't agree. 

Quite often I'll hear stories where breastfeeding mums, who were struggling with breastfeeding, have reached out and were instantly told to just give a bottle, which if a mum wants to do that is absolutely their right to do that. However, if a mum is telling you that they want to breastfeed, then telling them to just give a bottle, is very counteractive. 

Emotionally, breastfeeding can be hard to process because it's demanding and can very much be an invasion of personal space. When a mum is telling you that she's struggling but wants to continue, then telling her that she should just give up is probably one of the most unsupportive things to say. Everyone has a right to say that they are struggling and by dismissing that struggle, completely invalidates their feelings.

Bottle feeding can impact breastfeeding journeys in the beginning

I'm very much pro-fed your baby however you deem fit, but also very pro-breastfeeding, and I'd be lying if I said introducing a bottle early wouldn't affect your breastfeeding journey.

Sometimes it's necessary to give a bottle, when breastfeeding. I know it all too well, especially on the times that I could cry from the pain and chose to express milk instead. Edith, would never take to a bottle, but there are many babies who prefer to switch to a bottle than to continue breastfeeding, which can be a very emotional experience for mums who want to breastfeed. When it comes to bottle feeding, the milk is released much quicker than it would be from the breast and babies become used to that flow, as opposed to having to wait for a let down from the breast. So, it's important to have this information because so many mums that I've heard hadn't heard of that breast aversion.

If you are considering to combination feed, definitely look up paced bottle feeding to avoid your baby from rejecting the breast. 

Pumping is not an indication of a lack of supply

Some mums, like myself, struggle to pump. I physically could not get anything from a pump. I tried various brands, but my breasts would just not produce to express. This is more common than it sounds. 

I tried all sorts of things, watching videos of Edith, looking at photos to try and trigger more of a let down, but nothing worked for me. It was very much boob or nothing, in my case.

So, if you're worried that you're not getting lots of mls when it comes to pumping, it is not an indication of how much milk your baby is getting direct from the breast. Again, the indicators that your baby is getting enough is via nappy output and weight gain.

I hope this will serve to help someone in their breastfeeding journey, but remember to always seek advice and help from professionals if you are concerned about your breastfeeding journey

Thanks lovelies.

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