I’m at that stage in my pregnancy, where I’m actually starting to think about this little baby girl being here.
Do you know what I mean? Where it goes from stocking up on nappies and clothes and teeny, tiny socks, and then, all of a sudden, you’re actually imagining the changes about to come your way.
The changes to your family dynamics. The changes to your sleep (don’t, just don’t). The changes to your life. Your heart. And even you.
One of the things I’ve started thinking about is breastfeeding.
I breastfed my son for 18 months in the end. After a rocky start and a fair few challenges that stemmed from being a working mum.
He had a lazy latch, which saw us stay another night in hospital, which I hated. And really, I felt like it was me and him that cracked it. Without much support from anyone else.
Then, I went back to work when he was eight weeks-old. So I spent about an hour a day, locked in the server room, expressing milk. I’ve written about my tips for expressing at work already on the TalkMum blog, so if you’re in a similar position, make sure you have a read.
Make sure you watch my latest video where I talk all about my breastfeeding journey first time hopes for breastfeeding a second time round:
But I also have some general tips overall, which I thought I would share today. Because a problem shared, is a problem halved, and I like to think that I could help fellow mamas like me.
Buy some Lansinoh HPA® Lanolin for sore and cracked nipples. This stuff is a holy grail product, and I know lots of mums will agree. Apply before and after each feed to prevent your nipples getting sore and cracked. Eventually, the poor things will toughen up, but, in the early days, this stuff is genius. I already have a tube ready to go. Plus - it last ages
- Perfect your hold. This sounds a bit bizarre, but if you have particularly big boobs, it can be difficult to get a good hold and a latch. There are lots of holds you can try, but the two I found the most useful were the rugby hold, where your position baby under your armpit, with their head near the breast and feet pointing behind you. Plus, I also used to roll up a muslin to wedge my boobs up a little bit, so my son wasn’t smothered!
- Look after yourself. I know it sounds like a really simple one. But I barely remembered to eat in the early days. Keeping well fed and watered is key. I used to force myself to not sit down without a drink (usually a bottle of water) and a snack. There’s nothing worse than being pinned down by a feeding baby when breastfeeding thirst kicks in. It’s torture that I’ve never known
- Take some supplements. I have already got Pregnacare Breast-feeding ready to go, to help make sure I’m looking after myself really well. They contain lots of important vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. Plus the Omega-3 capsule contains DHA which contributes to the brain and eye development of your breast-fed baby
- Feel proud and confident. How you choose to feed your baby out in public is up to you. But never let anyone make you feel ashamed. You don’t always need fancy clothes or covers. I found layering worked well - vest tops underneath other tops as an example. And a muslin was useful as a cover. But remember, you don’t have to cover up. You’re doing a brilliant thing and you have rights. So always try and remember that!
- Download some good books on a Kindle or your phone. One-handed reading is handy, and a proper book doesn’t quite cut the mustard when you’re not quite hands-free. Plus, backlit devices mean you don’t need to put a light on at night, so you don’t rouse baby too much, and if your other half has been up already, he can get some extra sleep while you tackle the night feeds with a good book. You might as well enjoy it! Read things like the TalkMum Night Feed Nine to keep you company. Fun fact - I read all of the 50 Shades of Grey books when breastfeeding my son. Bit weird…
- Take notes. In the early days, especially with your first, it’s useful to take notes at every feed, just to help you remember which side you fed from last time, and how long for. It’s a handy tip while you are getting into a routine, and stops you from worrying.
- Ask for support. If you are struggling, don’t struggle alone. Even if it’s 3:00am, there’s bound to be a fellow mum doing a night feed on Twitter. Use a #breastfeeding hashtag. Or ask for advice on Facebook. Failing that, your midwives and health visitors are there to help. And not to forget the breastfeeding support groups too!
- Get treated quickly. I was lucky never to experience mastitis, and I got away with noticing a blocked duct very quickly. But if you feel unwell, or your girls aren’t feeling their normal, perky, milky selves, it’s time to ask for help. Things can get serious pretty quickly, and you’re important, so don’t forget to put your needs first too.
- Try expressing and learning how to use a pump. There are so many reasons for this. a) It can provide relief when you’re engorged. b) Building up a stash in your fridge or freezer is amazing for emergencies. c) It lets baby get used to a bottle. d) Your partner, children, or other family members can experience feeding your little one, which is a lovely bond to nurture. e) Mama gets some time off!
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Whether you manage one feed, one day, one week, one month, one year, or beyond - you are amazing. Being a breastfeeding mother doesn’t define you. This is one part of your journey and you’re doing brilliantly.
If you have any extra tips for me, leave them in the comments below! And good luck if you are expecting like me. Not long now!
Charlotte blogs over at Write Like No One's Watchingabout her take on motherhood.