Breast is best, but boy is it difficult

After Missy was born, I breastfed with such ease. Then the no milk thing happened and I had to use pre-mixed bottled formula to make sure she was fed. First few times we used it, no problem, but after that, her little tummy just couldn’t hack it- that and the varied advice from all the midwives. After two terrible nights of crying and endless shrieking, we decided against bottle and to try my utmost hardest to breastfeed. Sunday morning I woke up in the middle of the night to what can only be described as an explosion of breast milk- all down my PJ’s, over my pillow, my bed, myself. My boobs had leaked with such force, you’d actually think I must have wet myself.  With the gold nectar finally in my system ready to feed, getting Missy to latch on was a heck of a lot harder than I thought. In breastfeeding, the latching is the glue that makes the good stuff happen. And if you can’t get your baby to latch, the feeding part is hard work and very stressful and in times painful. 

When it comes to breastfeeding, Missy should just take a big mouthful of my nipple, resulting in her sucking which eventually brings out my milk. But she’s struggled to latch on. My nips have been sore, very sore and relying on those bottles when you know she might not sleep another night. Currently, even with the amount of milk coming through, trying to nurse Missy can prove difficult at times. Sore nips are a frequent complaint amongst breastfeeding mothers, with many, like me (until assured by my midwife) feeling really sore and 8/10 times the pain is unreal and from that, something isn’t right. When your baby has latched on properly, suck, they draw out milk ceasing the nipple soreness and providing them with all the nourishment they need. 

On suggestion from my midwife, she recommended I do the following to help ease the discomfort: 

Join a breastfeeding class 

If I didn’t have a blasting cold before she arrived, I most definitely would have attended one of these classes. Thankfully there’s a weekly class at the children centre where I get weighed every Tuesday which I’ll definitely be going to from next week. The classes involve: 

  • Midwives demonstrating latching with videos and 1-2-1 help to make sure you and your baby is getting the best out of your breast 
  • Connecting with other mums and new mum’s-to-be 

Get comfortable 

The more comfortable you are the better. If you’re relaxed, chances are baby will be too. 

Start breastfeeding as soon as your baby is born 

Thankfully missy took to me straight away and fed well when she was born. The annoying thing was that as my hormones changed it got harder for her to latch on and formula had to make an appearance. Sunday morning, early hours I was woken up to my pillow being wet, I was lactating, lactating hard, which meant the pain started and unless I fed her quickly or expressed milk in some way, they’d either get ridiculously uncomfortable or she’d find it difficult to take to it. My nips aren’t big enough for her to latch on which makes them sore but thankfully I use nipple shields. 

Nipple shields 

A nipple shield is a flexible silicone nipple that is worn over the mother’s own nipple during breastfeeding. Nipple shields can help establish breastfeeding with some babies who seem to have difficulty achieving and/or maintaining attachment to the breast.

  • Flat or inverted i.e. non protractile nipples.
  • Soft nipples.
  • Tongue tie.
  • Breast refusal.
  • Sore, cracked bleeding nipples.
  • Weaning a baby from bottle to breast.
  • Re-lactation or induced lactation (adoptive breastfeeding).

Where to buy: Boots, mothercare and other selected retail stores. 

Cost: From £4 

Use your breast milk to help soothe the discomfort 

All the creams in the world won’t beat your own number one healer. Apply a little breast milk and let them air dry. Be cautious about using lanolin or other creams; if you do have some thrush present, these creams can encourage it to grow. If that doesn’t soothe it, try a warm damp cloth or frozen peas applied directly to your breasts and massage gently. 

Ask for help if you need it 

I think my midwife is fed up with the constant phone calls from me. QEQM, the kingsgate ward, my GP surgery and the midwifery team for Ramsgate must think ‘oh please do sod off Danielle’ as I call up for the fifteenth time this week asking why she’s crying constantly and ripping my nipples off. Although constantly reassured by all of them it’s cool to keep calling being a first time mother. Ask for help if you need it, you’re not alone. 

If breastfeeding is not for you,  don’t feel guilty, it’s your body no one else’s 

If it hurts to breastfeed, something isn’t right but it can be resolved and don’t feel that you have to breastfeed, there are plenty of formula’s available. I’ve considered it quite a few times and if it doesn’t ease up in the next week or so, then, best to leave breast for formula. How yo choose to feed your baby is entirely up to you. Don’t ever feel guilty. The main goal of parenthood is to make sure your baby is fed, looked after and loved. If you can do those three you’re doing everything in the world possible for your child. With the options  available these days with formula, there are plenty of options for your little one, including lactose intolerant. Speak to your midwife or your doctor for advice further if you’re unsure. 

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