If you’re a Mom, pregnant or ever looked at a child you’ll probably be aware that last week was World Breastfeeding Week (sarcastic yay!) and I’m really resisting the urge to hit publish on a controversial post sitting in my drafts but I can’t be arsed with the trolls that I will definitely attract so I’m going to write this positive post instead: How to make breastfeeding easy!
For the record for anyone that doesn’t follow me, I have a 3 year old – Ollie who was breastfeed for the first few days and then I was in hospital dying from a c-section infection and he was at home on formula. Ted, my 7 month old has been exclusively breastfed so far and we are currently trying out baby led weaning and he’s playing with bits of food. So I’m on both teams, I’m not writing any breast is best bullshit I just want to write something that isn’t moaning about breastfeeding but instead giving some tips on how you can make breast-feeding easy, it isn’t the saggy boob, nipple cracked horrendous journey that some people like to portray so…
Do NOT take him off!
I repeat DO NOT take him off the boob. Nobody really told me this but it’s something I learnt early on. Your baby might give the illusion that he’s finished, even start snoring on you. This is not a sign that he’s finished. Leave him there until he breaks the seal. If you take him off you will experience stress and start to think that your milk isn’t enough and you should go onto formula. You will think, I’ve just fed him and he’s screaming, he can’t be hungry! He is! Some feeds will last 5 mins, some will last the best part of an hour but the way to make it stress free is to let him lead. When he’s hungry, feed, when he’s done -stop. Do not stop on your terms or you will get frustrated and think you’re failing at breastfeeding.
For me, the only indication that he is done is detaching himself. You can stroke their little cheek to encourage sucking but don’t prise him off. He might settle for 5 mins before waking up screaming wondering where you’ve gone.
Obviously there are times when you kind of have to temporarily take him off, for example if you’re answering the door to take a parcel in but put him straight back on when you’re back. I’d say only take them off if you’re able to put them back, i.e don’t go out or get in the bath.
2. Feed before you go out.
One of the reasons I’m not a stressed out person is because I don’t put myself in stressful situations. I wouldn’t go out knowing Ted is due a feed and there might not be anywhere decent to feed him. Formula is much easier to get a time routine going, Ollie had bottles every 4 hours and it was almost military precision, it was rare that he’d wander from the schedule.
With breastfeeding you don’t so much get a time pattern but you get a routine pattern. So I don’t feed Ted determined by time but by activity. He tends to play- eat – sleep – repeat. So I know once he’s fed he’ll be happy to sleep and then play for a little bit before he’s hungry again. He doesn’t tend to wake up screaming for food but then he does have little naps so this is just my routine each baby will differ! So if you’ve got to go shopping or whatever, make sure he’s settled before you go, whatever that routine is for you.
So for me if I feed Ted (and get a burp out) I’m free to go out for a couple of hours knowing he’ll nap and then have a little play so I have a few pushchair toys so if he wakes up while I’m out, he’ll happily play for a bit before he gets hungry then I know I’ve got time to find a good spot…
3. Find good feeding spots!
These stories about women feeding in swimming pools and shop doorways do make me think, what a twat because there’s no reason for it! There are plenty of decent places to feed publicly without causing a scene. Why would you voluntarily sit somewhere that is going to draw attention and make you get into arguments with strangers rather than calm your baby down‽ This is why women get accused of attention seeking.
I’ve fed Ted in loads of public places and never once had a negative experience. Nandos, Frankie and Benny’s, GBK, TGI Fridays, Coffee No 1, Costa, Prezzo, Bodega, Bills Restaurants, I think I’ve fed Ted in almost every chain! Never once any negativity. The reason for this is either that I’m just lucky that I never sit by narrow minded twatbags or it’s because I don’t choose to put myself on display where I could give anybody the opportunity to be negative. I’ll always sit with my back to the busiest section and I’ll wait until I’ve ordered my food so I don’t make the staff feel uncomfortable. Once he’s latched on no-one can tell anyway, it’s only that initial latch where you might flash.
4. Two tops.
No-one can tell, if you do the one up one down method. This is the best discreet way to feed. So basically you wear a vest top, I wear nursing ones but it can work with a normal vest if it’s stretchy, and then any old other top on top of the vest. Then you unclip your bra and vest under the top, secretly get it out but no one can tell because of the top- top, then put baby in position and lift the top-top up and done, no one even knows.
If you are wearing a low cut top or just one top there is another technique that I call the invisibility cloak, which is just a light chiffon style scarf that you can keep in your bag and when he’s hungry put the scarf on so that it covers your boob, then same technique, get it out under the scarf and put baby there and no-one knows what’s going on.
5. Don’t listen to anybody.
The best way to make breastfeeding easy is to just not give a stuff about anyone elses opinion of you. I wouldn’t even bother with ‘support groups’ especially social media support groups, they’re generally just a place to moan! Your midwife should be the best support in the early days and then you’re on your own. And you’ll be just fine, you don’t need validation that you’re doing a good job, have some self belief!
It hurts for a couple of weeks but if you want to do it you’ll do it. Some people will want to tell you the benefits of formula and try and convince you to switch, only switch if you’ve had enough, don’t be swayed by myths that have no substance. Such as;
I wanted my partner to bond with the baby too.
Feeding isn’t the only way to bond and boobs aren’t the only way to deliver breastmilk.
I wanted to know how much he was having.
Why? You don’t need a measurement to know when your baby is satisfied. He knows how much he’s had and that’s all that matters.
This isn’t intended to be critical of formula, like I said at the beginning, I formula fed Ollie. My point is, somebody needs to tell new and expectant mothers that it’s alright this breastfeeding thing. It isn’t the hardest thing you’ll ever do, it can be easy but you can make it easier on yourself in simple ways!
Looking back I think I probably was too quick to give up with Ollie, I’m not going to feel guilty and regret it because I was seriously ill but if I would’ve known then what I know now I would’ve tried to get my milk back when I was out of hospital.
Yes there are horror stories surrounding breastfeeding, I’m not dismissing the fact that some mothers are genuinely ill and there are serious issues. Yes it hurts for the first few weeks I’m not denying that but I just think it would be nice if more people said, actually it’s easy assuming there are no major complications!
Having formula fed Ollie compared to breast-feeding Ted, I can honestly say that the only ‘advantage’ of formula over breast milk was that Ollie was a much better sleeper. He was sleeping through from 6-8 weeks and had proper naps in the day. Ted wakes up 2-3 times in the night and doesn’t have long naps but other than that there is nothing that makes me think formula was easier than breastfeeding!
Hopefully that sounds positive towards breastfeeding… I’m pro breastfeeding, against drama! Haha!