There. I‘ve said it. Breast feeding is easy…. Well it can be.
During one of the many herbal tea drinking, hand holding, sympathy nodding meetings with my NCT teacher and new found NCT friends, the question was posed: how are we feeling about labour? My thoughts had always been quite pragmatic: Labour didn’t scare me. We were committed. No way out. No going back. It was going to happen. Now, I’ve climbed mountains, dived oceans and parallel parked in central London, but the real fear for me was that I may not be emotionally strong enough to give my child what my body was designed to provide; breast milk. Breastfeeding was a choice. I could choose to stop if it hurt or I didn’t like it and I’ll be honest, I was terrified the sore nips would be just too much.
I really wanted to breastfeed though. In the build up to having my baby, I read everything I could get my hormonal eyes on to help prepare; the result: I just grew more and more anxious. Tales of pain, embarrassment and inconvenience all connived to ruin the “yummy mummy” cliché I secretly craved. Terror turned to despair as article after article undermined my already waning confidence. A friend told me how she’d used a nail brush on her nipples each day for a month before the birth to toughen them up. I managed it once. The final straw was a NHS short film banging on about how arduous and emotionally draining the whole ordeal would be. I switched it off half way through.
Now, I’m a big fan of positive thinking but it was tough to approach this with any confidence.
As you no doubt are, I was fully aware of all the benefits my new-born would receive if I could do this. But I’ll be honest here, the benefit to me as the mum was the final clincher that really made me want to do this – it would help get rid of my pregnancy tummy. Ker-ching! So this meant I could breastfeed my baby and eat cake at the same time and still be doing a work out. Hell yeah, I was in!
My daughter’s natural instinct to find food kicked in within ten minutes of being born.
After labour, my daughter laid on my bare chest with her head against my boobs. Within ten minutes, she started to move, a bit like a seal; this tiny little 7lb baby pulled herself across my boob to reach my nipple and then latched on. Wow. We watched as she managed this by herself, this may sound corny but to trust in Mother Nature to let her do it alone; to sniff out her food and get to it herself helps establish breastfeeding. I can’t tell you how powerful that was, just watching this simple mammalian instinct. If you take one thing away from this article, I hope its this.
Yes my nips did still get sore, but nothing that made me question whether I could keep going, I would say mostly thanks to this wonderful product lansinoh.co.uk/hpa-lanolin. I highly recommend it. It costs about £10 but the one tube lasted a couple of months, apply before and after every feed. That and the fact my daughter and I absolutely loved the connection that we got from breastfeeding. No one else can do this. Just you, the mum. Now that’s pretty special isn’t it?
And yes, in case you’re wondering, I’m absolutely sure breastfeeding helped my tummy to reduce. For about the first week as my baby started to feed for the first minute or so, I felt mild contractions (don’t panic) – this pain, whilst not nice didn’t last long and strangely felt good, as, like any exercise, pain meant it was working. After a week, the discomfort stopped completely.
I breastfed 100% for a full year and then eased off gradually and finally stopped completely when she was two and a half. I loved the closeness this offered and my daughter and I loved these quiet comforting moments during the busy day. I know I was very lucky as I didn’t encounter any problems breastfeeding but I did spend a lot of time worrying because so many articles about breastfeeding were so negative saying how hard it will be, that I wanted to say; give it a go. Not only will you and your baby both reap the benefits but you might just enjoy it too!
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