Friday 7 July 2017

Breastfeeding - My journey so far

I am by no means a breastfeeding expert. However, I am a first time mother who has struggled with breast feeding and I have thankfully overcome plenty of initial breastfeeding speed bumps. I get so many questions about breast-feeding. Hopefully anyone who is in the early stages of breastfeeding (and perhaps considering giving up) or anyone thinking about breastfeeding their little one might get some further encouragement or find some useful tips in this post.

Photography Sarah Carton

Personally I always wanted to breastfeed my baby as soon as she/he was born. As I was breastfed and my sisters breastfed their babies, it just seemed the norm. The potential benefits of it were too hard to ignore. I mean who doesn't want a child with a stronger immune system, less chance of being a victim of SIDs and less likely to be obese?

However one misconception I had about breastfeeding was that it would be easy. I just had an ideal picture of my little one latching straight away and feeding happily ever after. Boy was I wrong. It is said most woman who give up breastfeeding do in the first few days after birth. The midwives and care assistant working on the wards are often overworked and too busy so spending the time that is required with a mother who is struggling might not always be an option. And then there are people like me who have incorrect ideals or expectations about it.

For me the problems arose when I returned home from the hospital with Isabelle. I couldn't understand why by baby was still crying with hunger even through her food supply was in her mouth and why our sessions were taking hours. My picture perfect image of me breastfeeding was soon shattered! There is no doubt I considered giving up on more than one occasion, however the more people I talked to the more I realised I wasn't alone. In fact breastfeeding is an art that needs to be learned.

The district nurse was so helpful in informing me of groups that were in the area for breastfeeding moms. I pop along to my local health centre to get baby Isabelle weighted and chat to the other mothers every week. It is a great chance to get out of the house and get some tips from other mothers. One of my main concerns with breastfeeding was not knowing whether Isabelle was getting enough food. Weighing her every week at my health centre gave me reassurance along with plenty of wet and dirty nappies. I also dropped into a La Leche League meeting where one of the leaders took time to troubleshoot the issues I was having which helped me so much.

Get Comfy
In the beginning it so important to find a comfortable spot in your home to breastfeed.  I used a breast feeding pillow and always had snacks and a bottle of water within arms reach. A good boxset is great as the milk session might take some time in the beginning as your baby tries to get your supply up. The more she feeds today the more milk she'll have tomorrow.
I did some research into how I can increase my supply and I find taking Fenugreek capsules helps  me. I'm also drinking Fenugreek tea and eating porridge oats daily in a bid to increase supply. I'm also taking Pregnacare breast feeding supplements to ensure I'm getting the right nutrition during the post partum period.
Dress to Express
Finding breastfeeding friendly clothes and bras allowed me to be more confident breastfeeding in public. Some shopping centres also have breast feeding rooms and I have been a frequent patron to the excellent Dundrum shopping centre room.
Pump it up
Expressing milk allows me a little freedom during breast feeding period. I have been using the Nuk Luna Pump and find the manual Nuk pump particularly great. I bring a few bottles of expressed milk with me if I know breast feeding isn't convenient.
Read up
Other websites such as Kellymom and books such as The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding are so useful at getting tips to help you with your journey. From the correct storage of breast milk to general tips.

This is what I've learned so far and I'm taking this journey one day at a time.


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