When I was pregnant with the twins I read a big pile of ‘baby help books’ and like many mothers I wanted to do the best for my babies and breastfeed them. They say breastfeeding comes naturally but the truth is that it didn’t come naturally for me. I really struggled, my very small babies didn’t drink well, I had way too much milk, I battled a serious bout of mastitis and there was so much around the clock pumping and topping up involved that after three months I saw no other choice but to change to bottle feeding. While at the time I knew it was the best choice for all of us I have regretted it often and I was determined to try again next time.
When baby no.3 arrived I was excited and well prepared for what was to come, when I was hit with mastitis in the 4th week I knew the signs and calmly worked my way through it with antibiotics, cold packs and frozen cabbage leaves. Our baby was thriving, she was stacking on the weight and breastfeeding soon became relaxing and completely normal for me. I hope I will never forget those quiet night feeds, listening to those soft content drinking noises, watching her fall asleep while drinking and seeing the smile on her relaxed face. In the end I managed to breastfeed her, and after that baby no.4, for one year each which I am extremely proud of.
After a total of 28 (some easy, some very hard) months of nursing babies I have learnt a lot about breastfeeding, the most important thing being that breastfeeding is a learning curve for both mother and child. It is a journey you are on together and it may not always go like you have planned and sometimes it takes a while until you are both comfortable with it. It’s also a personal journey and all that matters is you and your baby, everyone’s story is different and you don’t have to take other people’s comments and opinions on board. Personally once we established a good breastfeeding routine I found it extremely rewarding and I very much cherish all the precious moments I spent feeding our children.
One of my biggest problems with breastfeeding was a combination of larger breasts and an enormous quantity of milk. With the twins these two factors caused a lot of issues: they didn’t drink enough and couldn’t handle the continuous milk flow, I had to hold two tiny babies and somehow get them comfortable under two gigantic breasts which was tricky (impossible I felt at the time). Because of all this extra milk I ended up in a vicious circle of pumping to get rid of the milk but producing more milk in response to the pumping (supply/demand), this caused mastitis (several times) and that’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
Aside from keeping cold packs and frozen cabbage leaves in your freezer (I know they smell horrible but they are absolutely magical when dealing with engorged breasts or mastitis!) I have one tip that for me made the difference between a breastfeeding disaster and breastfeeding success: feeding while laying down. It means you can be comfortable and relaxed without hurting your back and your baby can decide on its own comfy position and move, shift, take a breath when needed, baby doesn’t have a big breast in its face and you don’t have to hold your baby’s head in place. Especially in the beginning when feeds can take 30 minutes or longer this is such a comfortable feeding position and as your child gets older/heavier it will save your back.
If you have a great breastfeeding tip to share please leave a comment below, your tip may just make the difference in someone else’s breastfeeding journey.
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