My breastfeeding journey

This is my third time breastfeeding yet a very different journey to all of them.

I am in no way a breastfeeding expert but I think I have pick up a few good tips along the way and I have also followed terrible advice so maybe my experience will help others to overcome some fears and get a few tips.

Let’s start from the beginning. When I was pregnant with my first boy I was sure I really wanted to breastfeed. I read a bit about breastfeeding but definitely not enough.

I honestly didn’t think it was too much to it, you just feed the baby and first weeks might be a bit sore and you put cream and that’s about it.

Well no it turns out you have to be a little bit more informed than that.

I got terrible advice from a midwife saying: “don’t feed in demand otherwise he’ll be using you a soother! Feed him, wait 3 hours then feed again” I remember I tried to follow this because I trusted the midwife was giving me good advice. But obviously my supply suffered and he wasn’t gaining weight.

I was devastated, I started to go to ‘La leche league’ meetings but they couldn’t really help me after the first weight in I was feeding on demand trying to bring supply back up.

I tried everything until I was told by health nurse I had to top up by 2oz after every feed. After this and pressure from family I gave in and gave him the top ups.

I was feeding him for 40 min then making a 2 oz bottle then washing the bottles and sterilising. As you can imagine that was a very hard job. I didn’t have a minute to do absolutely anything.

My husband was after getting redundancy in his job and he was doing everything in the house. Cleaning, cooking etc. Needless to say that didn’t last long and at 12 weeks he had moved fully into bottles.

I was heartbroken, I felt I failed him. Because at hat point I had already finished the book “The womanly art of breastfeeding” (which I widely recommend if you are planning or are breastfeeding) so I knew I had done things wrong, I was now informed but it was too late.

My milk supply was gone and I was very emotional. It took me a long time to get over that. I was embarrassed to give him a bottle in public. I thought people were looking and judging.

But look he was happier fuller and now he is a very healthy 6 year old whom I adore and thank God he is very healthy.

My older boy was only 6 months when I found out I was pregnant again. Big surprise. I knew from day one I was going to breastfeed him.

I prepared myself so much (so I thought) The first thing I was going to do was to feed on demand. Nothing better than that that to increase your milk supply.

And in December 2013 a big boy weighting 10 pounds arrived to this world. He latched on straight away and with a baby at home I got around feeding one while making bottles for the other one.

I loved my journey the second time around. I felt so proud of myself he gained his weight back and had no issues until we hit sleep regression at around 5 months.

Something I didn’t have a clue about. Yes even though I had read the book and all. I just thought he was a big boy and he needed more. I genuinely thought he was too hungry.

And because he wasn’t sleeping at night I was exhausted I gave in and started giving him a bottle at night time. The night he got a bottle of formula slept all night so from then on he got a bottle every night and I combo feed until he moved into solids.

I breastfeed during the day he got formula at night time. And it worked very well for us (luckily) because this doesn’t work on everyone. I know about a lot of people who give a bottle and baby still wakes an hour or two later. So please beware of that in case you want to try that.

Giving a bottle of formula is not the solution and I want you to keep that in mind if you are breastfeeding. Because I do regret a bit doing that because then the next day you have to go somewhere and the formula is already there so you give a bottle and so on until you think you are not producing enough milk so you give more bottles and then thats it.

I honestly do wish I had persevere more and breastfeed him for longer.

Another thing is that I wasn’t as informed regarding drinking a glass of wine and eating spicy food (two things I love) so I was kind of happy to move to bottles so I could eat spicy food again and have a glass of wine.

Now when I think of it I rage that I could perfectly have had those things as milk is produced by blood and not by the foods you eat.

If you would like to read more on drinking and feeding click HERE to read more

And now let’s move on to my little lady. We have been feeding on demand, I understood very well all about sleeping regression and the fact I could eat and drink occasionally in moderation.

When we were in hospital she was a bit jaundice so doctors said I had to give top ups as the light can dehydrate them but I refuse and they brought me a pump (hospital grade) and i pumped the milk she needed and we had no issues.

I have now downloaded the wonder week app and it is an amazing tool to see when your baby might be a bit fussy.

Here is an example:

Another app that have been very helpful is this one:

It has a clock so it times the minutes on each side and it’s a great way to help you remember when did you feed last etc.

It is very helpful the first few weeks . To be honest I no longer use it as feeding has got easier. We are on week 27 and I am loving feeding my little girl.

One thing I always get asked is for tips as baby always want to be on breast. The truth is there is no tips as such. Weather baby is formula feed or breastfeed, most babies will cry for their mammy. If you think about it, they were in your tummy nice and cosy/ warm and never hungry.

The world outside can be lonely, cold and too much for little humans. So pick up your baby and nurse and cuddle them as much as you can!

I don’t know for how long more am I going to feed. To be honest the feeding is going so well I don’t wanna stop. But I have this thing where I don’t lose weight while breastfeeding.

I eat very healthy and exercise and haven’t lose a gram. I don’t think I can go for very long on this situation.

I have 3 stone on me and nothing fits me and I’m very uncomfortable. I have read that once they go on solids you are feeding less and therefore your hormones might balance out and the weight will start to fall off so I will definitely wait until this happens and we’ll see how it goes.

Routine

The one thing everyone asks me is “how can we have a routine?”

The truth is the first few 16 weeks there is no routine. You feed on demand! And understanding this will help you mentally to prepare yourself to relax, be at home, and forget about house work. It might stress you at the time will fly by.

From 16 weeks on you can have some sort of routine!

Here is what I did when I started to have some sort of routine:

– Feed at 7am (no matter how rough the night was)

– Come down feed boys, have breakfast myself. Prepare boys for school

– Bring boys to school

– come home feed her again (9:30am) and she had a nap. I had an hour to either do a bit of cleaning, prepare dinner, have a shower or have a nap while she slept if I felt I needed to

– 12:00 pm have lunch

– Feed her again from 12:30 – 1:30 (by the time we changed nappy, do tummy time etc)

– 2:00pm collect boys

– Come back feed the boys. Feed her again she’ll nap again for at least 1 or 2 hours again another little gap to cook/clean/blog etc.

– Then at 6:00 pm we would all have dinner

– from 7pm she used to cluster feeds until 10pm (she no longer does this and by 8 shes down for the night)

Once you start on solids you will get a routine and is when you can go do your normal life as baby has breast/ nap/ lunch/ breast/ nap/ dinner/ breast/ bedtime so there is exactly when you have your routine and you can organise your life better

Going out of the house

When you are breastfeeding is a lot easier to get out of the house. You don’t have to bring bottles, you don’t have to be asking for boiling water to warm them up you just bring nappies, wipes and yourself!

I find really easy to get out of the house and instead of bringing the buggy and the hassle of putting it in the car etc. Just bring a wrap or a carrier.

The first week weeks I used a wrap:

My wrap was from a brand called Moby and can be purchased in earthmother.ie

Now that shes a bit older I use a Stokke carrier:

I love it! Is so practical when going shopping, going to town, I bring it everywhere!

If you feel shy feeding in public just bring a big scarf with you. And put it around you.

I go to the park, coffee, cinema, everywhere and feed where I need to.

Sleeping

Babies can be great sleepers weather they are breastfed or not.

I know there’s lots of girls that message me asking me for tips as they have to get up to make formula every 2 hours.

I know my baby girl slept all night for a period then hit sleep regression and it wasn’t the same.

We’ve been doing top ups of expressed breastmilk every night and she’s sleeping much better.

I put her down at 8 and at around 10:30-11:00 pm I give her a top up of 5oz. And she is sleeping until 5-6 am which is great because before this she was waking ever 1 or 2 hours.

And when she wakes at 5 or so I put her on the bed with me and she feeds away while i sleep. So I’m not really missing out much on sleep.

Your baby will begin to comfort himself and to sleep for longer stretches at his own developmental pace. If your baby wants to nurse at night, it is because he/she DOES need this, whether it’s because she is hungry or because she wants to be close to mom

Pumping Milk:

It is not recommended to pump milk before 6 weeks postpartum so you can start pumping after this time frame.

I have never used an electric pump but I’ve read they are amazing and so efficient. Unfortunately I can’t speak for myself in that regard.

I tried using a manual pump (tomee tippee) when I was feeding the boys but I was never able to get anything maybe half an ounce after pumping for lime 20 minutes so I never got into it.

This time however I tried the medela manual pump:

And I also used the haakka. They are both brilliant but the haakka is my favourite because it’s only one piece of equipment and I found it was handier to clean, carry anywhere etc.

If you want to read my haakka review click HERE

For storage milk information click HERE

I would really recommend joining a Facebook group for support. They answer all the questions you might have and see other mothers going through the same obstacles is very reassuring.

I once read something like: “if there was a liquid you could buy for your baby that would prevent obesity, prevent allergies, asthma respiratory illnesses etc. Would you buy it? Yes? Well guess what? That liquid is breastmilk and it’s for free”

I really hope I covered all the topics and tips. If you think I should add anything else please message me on Instagram (@momfitnessfiary) or leave a comment below

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